Earlier this month I got back from an amazing time in Italy – two nights in Bologna and three nights at the BlogVille apartment in Rimini overlooking the wide sandy beach.  BlogVille is an ingenious new concept which aims to harness the creativity and social media skills of travel bloggers to pass on the word about the beautiful Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy.  And there’s lots to tell – the area is abundant with art, history, architecture, stunning countryside and, of course, delectable food and wine.

Over the last three months the BlogVille apartments in Bologna and Rimini have been ‘home’ to over 50 bloggers, of varying nationalities, with an age range from early twenties through to mid-fifties – some even brought their children along.  BlogVille was to be a place where bloggers would ‘live like locals’, immerse themselves in the Italian ‘way’ and have time to discover the region at their leisure.  BlogVille organised visits to surrounding cities; Ferrara, Modena, Ravenna and Parma – all easily accessible from Bologna and Rimini.  They also provided a fridge full of delicious local food to get things off to a good start.

I met up with Kathryn from Travel with Kat – we were too late for BlogVille in Bologna but we liaised and booked a couple of days there independently of the project.  Although we’d never met, other than through e-mail, our blogs and twitter we had lots in common and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring both cities with her.  Plus I now have a lovely new friend who doesn’t mind me photographing everything in my path!  In Rimini, in the next apartment along, were Erin from Our Tasty Travels and Norbert from GloboTrek – both fun BlogVille housemates.

During our six days we discovered Bologna’s incredible piazzas, palazzos and porticoes, we peered up at leaning towers,  saw statues, churches and cathedrals. We ate some wonderful food – but couldn’t find spaghetti Bolognese anywhere – I’ll tell you why later.

We discovered that, after being struck by an earthquake, in May the city of Ferrara was shaken but thankfully not stirred

In the Rimini hinterland we met Dante and some sheep, learned a lot about cheese, made Piadina and gorged on creamy gelato.  We ventured into a bat cave, saw some outstandingly beautiful countryside, explored the old town, met some wonderful people and finally crashed on the beach before heading home.  Posts featuring all this and more to come.

My thanks to the impeccable ‘Master of the House’ Nicholas Montemaggi and to the Emilia-Romagna Tourist Board for looking after us all so well.  BlogVille was brilliant!