Located within the province of Bologna in the Emilia-Romagna region of north-central Italy, Imola is one of the many sleepy provincial towns with a story or two in its past and an enchanting atmosphere for the visitor.

Founded in 82 BC by the Roman dictator Sulla as the Forum Cornelii, the actual name of Imola was only bestowed upon its inhabitants by the invading Lombards in the 7th century in reference to the town's fortress (now known as Castellaccio).

This name proved somewhat apt considering Imola's later history, being filled with attempted invasions from the Saracens and the Hungarians in the 9th century right up to the Bolognese noble family in the 15th. However, the town remained loyal to the papacy, and its ties to the Catholic church are visible throughout Imola today, its most famous son still being the 12th century pope, Honorius II.

With a small but welcoming population, Imola is an oft-forgotten but attractive proposition for anyone wishing to see more than the big cities of Italy.


Home of the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola's main claim to fame is hosting the Formula One San Marino Grand Prix. Held each year in late April with Michael Schumacher the most recent victor, the contest itself is chiefly associated with the tragic mid-race death of the Brazilian Ayrton Senna in 1994.

Culturally speaking, Imola's chief place of interest is La Rocca Sforzesca in the piazzale G. dale Bande Nere. The former seat of the dominant Sforza family, the 13th century fortress remains a fine example of medieval and Renaissance architecture. On show within is a collection of ceramics and arms ranging from the medieval period.

The via Sacchi is also worth a visit, being home to the mid-19th century Museo Scarabelli, the Gothic-styled 14th century Chiesa dei SS. Nicolo e Domenico and the local art gallery, which has been recently restored.

For something slightly different though, the via Garibaldi offers a rare delight in the Palazzo Tozzoni. Purposefully set up as a museum in 1981 by Sofia Serristori Tozzoni, the last descendant of the family, it provides a glimpse into noble life in a provincial town with its baroque trimmings and lavish touches.


Although not a centre for major shopping, Imola still provides its fair share of markets and festivals throughout the year (particularly around the via Sacchi), offering the finest local produce.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Imola contains its fair share of pizzerias, restaurants and sandwich bars. The local cuisine specialises in dishes from the Romagna region, and the Baccanale festival in November celebrates the regional cuisine for two weeks, including dishes such as garganelli (hand-made macaroni), ciambella (dry cake) and the famous piadina (a unique type of flat bread served with cold meat and locally-produced cheeses).

As well as the Teatro Comunale, which can be located on the via Verdi, a number of pubs (including an English-themed one down the viale Rivalta), taverns with live music and discos can be found. Be sure to check out the via Romeo Galli if you’re interested.

Tourist Information

Imola Tourist CentreVia Mazzini 14Tel: +39 (0)542


Imola can be reached via Forli and Rimini airports, but Bologna is recommended, being just 35 minutes from the town (and accessible using public transport or car).

The airport offers international and domestic flights daily, with British Airways running from London Gatwick.

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