Nature & OutdoorNature & Outdoor

Emilia-Romagna for children: Cesena and the Casentinesi Forests

by /// August 24, 2023
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

72 h

72 h




72 h

72 h




Are you looking for places and activities to do with the whole family in Romagna?

Here is a 3-day tour between Cesena and the Casentinesi Forests, designed especially for children. Culture, nature and lots of fun await you!


Let’s start from the centre of Cesena, a lovely, human-scale town in Romagna (or rather a child-scale one!), and specifically from Piazza del Popolo, the Malatesta heart of the city.

Surrounded by colourful little houses, the square has a fountain at its centre, the 16th-century Masini Fountain; walking around this place will feel like stepping into a painting.

  • Cesena (FC) Piazza del Popolo Ph. Erich Zangheri CC BY-SA 40
  • Cesena, Masini Fountain in Piazza del Popolo h. ermess via shutterstock
  • Cesena Ph. ermess via shutterstock

Right in front of the Masini Fountain starts a short uphill path – Via Malatesta Novello – that leads to the Rocca Malatestiana fortress.

The fortress stands on the summit of Garampo hill, surrounded by the Parco della Rimembranza park.

Here you can visit the ramparts, enjoy the view as far as the sea, discover the inner walkways and visit the two central towers. The Maestra tower displays some original armour and saddles, while the Palatium houses the Museum of the History of Agriculture. Many events take place at the Rocca, such as guided tours at sunset, aperitifs, tastings, concerts and cultural meetings.

Descending again towards the centre, a few steps away from Piazza del Popolo, a visit to the Biblioteca Malatestiana Antica (Malatestiana Library) is not to be missed. It is the only example in the world of a perfectly preserved humanities library both in its building and in its furnishings.

For this very reason the Malatestiana Antica was the first one in Italy to be listed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, the UNESCO programme aimed at safeguarding the documentary heritage of humanity.

The Library, built inside the Franciscan convent, was built starting in 1447 at the behest of Malatesta Novello, and completed by Matteo Nuti in 1452.

  • Bibloteca Malatestiana Antica Ph. Archivio Comune di Cesena
  • Biblioteca Malatestiana Antica Ph. Robert Dawson, Archivio Comune di Cesena
  • Biblioteca Malatestiana Antica Ph. Robert Dawson, Archivio Comune di Cesena

Once through the majestic portal displaying the elephant, emblem of the Malatesta family, you will find yourself in an almost mystical place, pervaded by a soft light filtering through the large rose window at the back. The library has a three-aisle nave punctuated by 20 elegant columns with shield and leaf capitals.

For safety reasons, visits to the Malatestiana Antica are led by an expert guide only. Find out more here.

Bagno di Romagna

Bagno di Romagna (FC) | Ph. Claudio Giovanni Colombo via Shutterstock
Bagno di Romagna (FC) | Credit: Claudio Giovanni Colombo, via Shutterstock

Let’s now move towards the Romagna Apennines, where we will spend the second day of our trip. In less than an hour’s drive (about 50 km) we can get to Bagno di Romagna, a pretty village – belonging to the Borghi Più Belli d’Itali and TCI Orange Flag networks – famous throughout Italy for its hot springs.

Here, nature lovers can take part in a guided hike in the Bosco del Benessere (Wellbeing Forest), a forest bathing trail suitable for everyone. Divided into 9 stages, the trail leads from the village centre to the hills.

Younger children will also enjoy Il Sentiero degli Gnomi (Gnome Path), an easy route starting from Bagno di Romagna’s centre, dotted with wooden houses and stone sculptures depicting friendly gnomes and other fantastic creatures of the forest.

After exploring the green areas surrounding Bagno di Romagna, an afternoon at the spa is simply the perfect way to relax your mind and body.

Terme Santa Agnese offers many opportunities to take advantage of Bagno’s beneficial waters, known since Roman times. This is the ideal place to relax in the pool, try the Roman-style spa experience or one of the massages and treatments of the wellness centre.

Following the flooding that hit our region in May 2023, this area may be subject to closures or detours. Please contact the local tourist office before setting off.

The Ridracoli Dam

Lago di Ridracoli (Bagno di Romagna, FC)
Bagno di Romagna (FC), Ridracoli Lake | Credit: Sansa55, via Wikimedia

The next day is dedicated to both the Ridracoli Dam and its lake, an enchanted corner of Romagna that lies within the Casentino Forest National Park.

Built in the 1980s to supply water to the area, the dam is the perfect place to spend a day in nature. There’s plenty of activities to do in the area and they’re suitable for all ages: the ideal starting point is Idro, the Ridracoli Water Ecomuseum, where you can learn more about the history of the dam and the close relationship between man and water.

Once at the dam, you can choose to explore it on foot, following one of the many nature trails of the park, or admire it from below, aboard an electric boat or during a fun guided canoe trip!

Near the dam you can also find some bars and restaurants where you can recharge your batteries while savouring traditional Romagna dishes. One example is the Ca’ di Sopra Refuge, which can be reached by boat or with a 5-kilometre walk.

Santa Sofia

Santa Sofia (FC) | Ph. SonickWork1 via Shutterstock
Santa Sofia (FC) | Credit: SonickWork1, via Shutterstock

Our itinerary between Cesena and the Casentino Forests ends in Santa Sofia, another unmissable destination of this surprising area.

This small village surrounded by greenery allows you to experience what it’s like to live in a “slow city”, a place where respect for the environment is intertwined with the preservation of traditions and the principles of well-being.

In addition to hosting one of the visitor centres of the Casentinesi Forests Park, Santa Sofia is renowned for its flair towards contemporary art, so much so that it boasts an open-air museum located along the Bidente river.

The river park is in fact scattered with sculptures and installations by great artists of our time, such as Arnaldo Pomodoro’s ‘Cono Tronco’.

During a visit to this charming mediaeval village, don’t miss the chance to savour the typical local dish. We are talking about tortelli alla lastra, a tasty street food made with pumpkin and potatoes, traditionally cooked on stone. Simply the best way to end our trip!

Following the flooding that hit our region in May 2023, this area may be subject to closures or detours. Please contact the local tourist office before setting off.


Elisa Mazzini

Social Media Manager for @inEmiliaRomagna and full-time mom.

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *