Emilia-Romagna is a region of the north-eastern Italy, officially formed in June 7, 1970, with capital Bologna. It is wet on the east by the Adriatic Sea, bordered to the north with the Veneto and Lombardy, on the west by Piedmont (sharing a border of just under 8 km) and Liguria, south of Tuscany, the Marches and the Republic of San Marino.
It is made by joining two historic regions: Emilia, which includes the provinces of Piacenza, Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Ferrara and the capital Bologna, and Romagna, with the remaining provinces of Ravenna, Rimini, Forlì-Cesena. The historical Romagna, however, cover small areas in the Marche and Tuscany. In 402 AD Ravenna became capital of the Western Roman Empire and subsequently capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. The long Byzantine domination of the Adriatic coast explains why the Riviera provinces got the name of “Romagna” or “Little Rome”.
The areas which constitute the region today are populated since ancient times, as we indicate several findings: the most famous case is the site of Monte Poggiolo, near Forlì, where there were found thousands of artefacts dating to about 800,000 years ago, demonstrating that this area was already inhabited in the Palaeolithic.
The Via Emilia was constructed in 187 BC by the Roman consul Marcus Aemilius Lepidus to link Piacenza to Rimini, with its route which roughly follows the line in the foothills northwest-southeast direction and divides the territory of the region into two approximately equal parts with extensions: the northern part (47.8% of total area) is flat, while the hills (27.1% of the territory) and the mountains (25.1%) are located along the southern part of the region. The slope Emilian Apennines consists of a series of spurs from the main watershed down to comb and separating valleys are also parallel. The higher elevations are in the central sector, culminating in Monte Cimone (2.165 m).
The plain is the result of alluvial deposits carried by the Po and Apennine rivers. In the high plains were deposited coarse materials (gravel, sand) and therefore the soil is very permeable. In the lowlands the deposits are smaller and therefore less permeable. The great plains overlooking the sea coast, the wide sandy beaches and shallow waters lend themselves very well to the intensive tourist resort.
Emilia-Romagna is a region of contrast: in its north-west there is austere Piacenza on the banks of the Po river and in the south-east, sunny Rimini on the Adriatic and ringed by gently rolling hills. On the broad, there are friendly beaches in the Adriatic coast, ancient civilisations lie at the historical heart of the cities of art, e.g. the capital Bologna, Ferrara and Ravenna, which possess rich artistic treasures and their attraction and fascination is endless. Their worldwide success in fashion, design, arts and crafts is an example which expresses the Region’s astonishing creativity.
The secluded Apennines, the nature parks and the vast protected areas of the Po delta provide a perfect setting and give the visitor the unforgettable opportunity to explore them and to enjoy an experience of perfectly conserved and uncontaminated nature.
Emilia-Romagna is considered one of the richest regions in Europe, with employment rates exceeding 70% (80% in Modena and Reggio Emilia). This has led in recent years a massive arrival of immigrants in its cities and provinces; the impact of immigrants on the total population is of around 10%. In statistics (June 2007), Bologna and Modena were respectively the third and fourth richest cities in Italy. In the ranking Bologna is the Italian city with one of the highest level of life.
The main demographic and economic “numbers” of Emilia-Romagna are the following ones. This Region has a surface of 22.445,54 km2 and a total population of 4.395.606 inhabitants, with a demographic density of 196 inhabitant per km2. The gross domestic product (GDP) is 138.675 millions of Euros: agriculture, animal husbandry, food processing, ceramic sector, engineering industry and tourism are the main productive sectors of this Region.
About the climate of Emilia-Romagna, the regional mean values (reference period: 1961-1990) are 940 mm ca for the precipitation., and 8°C (minimum) and 16.8°C (maximum) for the temperature.
The hydrographical network is made up, in the western half of the region, by a series of rivers, trending more or less parallel valleys that cross the foothills and then flow into the river Po; in the eastern part of the region, starting with the Reno, the rivers flow directly into the Adriatic. Apart from the Po, all rivers in the region have brought torrential irregular pattern. It is remarkable network of branch canals that draw water from the Po River for irrigation and provide for the drainage of low-lying areas. It therefore has a “low” irrigation farming dedicated to the production of milk and cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano and Grana Padano), then the “valleys” reclaimed, mostly planted with cereals, then the plain non-irrigated, cultivated specializing in fruit, and the hills or vineyards used for mixed cultivation, and finally the meadows, pastures and woods of the hills and mountains.
The most important river of the Emilia-Romagna is the Po, with its 652 kilometres of length. Other rivers are Reno, Trebbia, Taro, Secchia, Panaro, Enza, Savio and Parma. There aren’t natural lakes, but only artificial reservoirs: Suviana, Brasimone and Ridracoli are the most known. Within the environmental context of Emilia-Romagna, the entire plain is characterised by significant groundwater bodies, which include Apennine alluvial fans, Apennine alluvial plain, and alluvial and Po delta plain. There are some important transitional waters (2 coastal lagoons and 1 delta), as Valli di Comacchio, Pialassa Piombone and Baiona, and Sacca di Goro. The whole coastal area is an open basin characterised by a linear coast, whose currents flow mainly in the north-south direction.
In 2005 the Emilia-Romagna Government approved the Regional Water Protection Plan, which represents the main tool to achieve the objectives defined by the Water Framework Directive by 2015. The regional strategy is based on an integrated approach which connects the qualitative and the quantitative aspects (“twin track approach”). The Water Saving and Conservation Program is part of the Water Protection Plan. The agricultural sector is the main responsible of the total water withdrawal (66%), then there is the civil sector (23%), and at last the industry (11%).