East of Bologna, the Via Emilia passes through a clutch of small towns – some of them industrialized and mostly postwar, like Forli, the unappealing administrative capital of the region, others, like Faenza, with medieval piazzas surrounded by towers and battlements. Both started life as Roman way stations and were under the rule of the Papal States for much of their subsequent history. The lowlands to the north are farmed intensively, while on the southern side lie hilly vineyards and pastures, narrow gorges that lead up into the mountains and a couple of ski resorts around Monte Fumaiolo (1407m).

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