Skip to content

Brisighella, Italy Guide: 11 Best Things to Do in Brisighella

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. We earn a small commission on every purchase made at no extra cost to you.

Are you wondering what to do in Brisighella, Italy? After falling in love with Brisighella during our visit last fall, and having explored Italy extensively over the years, we can confidently say that Brisighella is one of our favorite small towns and one of the most beautiful villages in Emilia Romagna.

Brisighella is a hidden gem in the verdant hills of Emilia Romagna, known for its stunning landscapes, rich history, and masterful cuisine. This medieval town has everything from delicious food to scenic spots and cozy places to stay, making every visit memorable.

Brisighella is perfect for a peaceful day out or a relaxing weekend break. It’s a place that makes you feel as though you’ve stepped into a storybook, with its old clock tower, green olive groves, and vineyards stretching as far as the eye can see.

In this guide, we share the best things to do in Brisighella, including top dining experiences and charming accommodations, to help you fully embrace the tranquil allure of this hidden gem.

Whether you are exploring Italy for the first time or are a seasoned traveler, Brisighella’s unique charm is sure to captivate your heart.

Best Things to do in Brisighella, Italy

1. La Rocca Manfrediana (Fortress)

Brisighella is a medieval village dominated by three hills that overlook the city. Atop those hills sit three of the city’s main attractions; La Rocca Manfrediana fortress, the Clock Tower (Torre dell’Orologio), and Santuario del Monticio.

One of the best things to do in Brisighella is to visit each of these sites, starting with the Rocca Manfrediana.

The Rocca Manfrediana is a fortified castle that overlooks Brisighella from one of the gypsum hills. Built in the 14th century by the Manfredi family of Faenza, the fortress is a splendid example of the military architectural style of the time.

You can park your car in the parking lot behind the fortress and take a short walk around the castle, soaking up the views of the city down below. If you arrive before 5 p.m., you may visit the castle with a tour group to walk around the inside.

However, even if the tower is closed, we highly recommend visiting the fortress and taking a walk to the lookout point where you can view the clock tower sitting across the small gully, for one of Brisighella’s most impressive views. This viewpoint makes for a perfect photo opportunity, especially at sunset when the lighting hits the tower just right.

You can easily walk between the Rocca Manfrediana and the Brisighella clock tower. There are two different paths. The first takes you from the lookout point the the clock tower and requires a lot of trekking up and down steps as you make your way across the gully.

The second, and much easier path, is to take the road connected to the parking lot all the way around to the clock tower. The walk is beautiful at sunset on a warm summer or autumn evening.

2. The Clock Tower

Situated on the top of the second peak in Brisighella, the Brisighella clock tower is the city’s most iconic landmark. Originally built as a fortress by Maghinardo Pagani in 1290 A.D. the fortress was converted into a clock tower in 1850.

One interesting thing you’ll notice about the clock is that the time only goes to 6, not 12, which was a common thing for clocks built in that period.

You can climb to the top of the tower for a great panoramic view of the old town, Rocca Manfrediana, and the beautiful Brisighella rooftops below.

We recommend climbing to the top of the clock tower if possible, but the hours are always changing, and you can still get a spectacular view from the base of the tower even if the doors to climb to the top are closed.

Taking a day trip from Bologna? Book this private full-day tour of Brisighella and Dozza with a local guide.

3. Monticino Sanctuary

The Monticino Sanctuary (Santuario del Monticino) is located on the third hill of Brisighella. This church dates back to the 18th century and contains a beautiful ceramic image of the Modanna with Child inside the doors. The polychrome terracotta image dates back to 1626 and was created by an unknown artist.

The church was built in 1758 and has gone through several changes including updates to the facade.

Chalk used to be mined from a cave at the back of the sanctuary. This cave has since been turned into an open-air geological museum.

Unfortunately, the church is currently under renovation and is closed to visitors. The timeline for when it will reopen is unknown.

4. Taste some olive oil

One of the best things to do in Brisighella is to taste some of the local pressed olive oils. Due to the weather and climate of the nearby Adriatic Sea, Brisighella is a perfect place for growing olive trees and pressing oil.

The oil here is produced from local varieties of olives and has been cultivated in Brisighella since Roman times.

We highly recommend visiting Frantoio Olive Ossani, a local olive oil producer that presses olives using an ancient, traditional technique. When you visit, you can watch an introduction video that explains how the oil is pressed.

While you are there, you’ll see many locals coming up to refill their empty olive oil containers. Before you leave, you’ll want to purchase a bottle or two of the sweet, fresh olive oil to take home with you as a souvenir.

Another great store to visit is Negozio Terra di Brisighella, which has a location on the main street in the center of town, or they have a larger market located a short distance outside of town along the SP 302 road.

Here, you can taste one of the very first olive oils to be awarded DOP status in Italy. Their olive oil has been awarded by the Slow Food organization for having some of the finest olive oil in Italy.

Negozio Terra di Brisighella also sells local wines and local produce, including Moretto artichoke and Mora Romagnola salami, two regional products.

5. Via degli Asini (Donkey Street)

One of the more interesting and unique things to do in Brisighella is the Via del Borgo o Degli Asini, which translates into “The Village Street” or “The Donkey Street”. You are unlikely to find another road quite like it an all of Italy.

The road is so fascinating because it was built up above the main road, as an old defensive bastion that could look down on the village. Guards would patrol the walkway to keep the village safe. During this time, the road was uncovered.

Then, when the road was no longer needed for defensive purposes, the road was covered and incorporated into houses.

Later, the road was used as a path to transport gypsum from the nearby quarries using donkies, hence the name “Via degli Asini”. When you walk on this street now, the road waves up and down, giving the appearance of a roller coaster.

As you walk by, you’ll notice homes attached to the road, many of which are still occupied by locals.

Historically, the doors that you see as you walk down the Via degli Asini would have been stables for the donkeys. The residents would have lived one floor up.

We recommend walking up and down the road. As you do so, you can look out the arched stone windows onto the village below, watching locals and tourists in the streets below.

6. Museo Civico (Civic Museum)

Located just below the Via del Borgo and next to the tourism office, the Museo Civico is a surprisingly good museum. Featuring the artworks of Giuseppe Ugonia, the museum is two levels full of Ugonia lithographs, as well as special exhibits.

Most of his works feature landscapes of the local hills and nature, which is perfect for nature lovers.

The Museo Civico costs €5 per person and is cash only, but the ticket also includes entry to the Rocca Manfrediana fortress.

7. Wander around the city

Brisighella is a tiny town, making it a fun and easy place to explore on your own. As you walk around town, you’ll pass local stores selling local products, and many highly-rated restaurants.

We recommend taking a slow stroll through town and passing by some of the other smaller sites in town. These include the Collegiata church located in Piazza Carducci, the Chiesa dell’Osservanza, which was painted by Guiseppe Ugonia, and the Parco G. Ugonia, a quaint park with tall pine trees and a fountain where one can stop to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and a gelato.

8. Go hiking

One of the best things to do in Brisighella is to get out into the verdant hills and enjoy one of the many nearby hiking trails.

There are many hikes around Brisighella, including the popular Sentiero dell’olio or Olive Oil Path that starts right in the center of town at the train station. This 7.6 km (4.7 mile) hike takes you out of town along the SP 302 until you reach Pieve del Tho, the oldest parish church in the Lamone Valley.

We recommend stopping here as the parish is a stunning piece of architecture, dating back to at least the 10th century. You will also want to stop here to find the ancient olive mill that dates back to Roman times.

From Pieve del Tho, you’ll take the path up the hills through the olive groves that overlook the beautiful villages below. This hike is relatively easy but does contain some uphill climbing.

If you want to head outside of Brisighella for a hike, we highly recommend the Vena del Gesso Regional Park. The park was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2023 for its more than 200 cave formations. Many of the hikes in the park begin in Cassano.

9. Taste some of the local foods

While olive oil may be the most famous product produced in Brisighella, there are many locally produced and grown foods that you do not want to miss! One of our favorite things about visiting Italy, is that seemingly each town has its own food traditions, and we always make sure to seek out the dish that is famous in the area.

When visiting Brisighella, you’ll want to try spoja lorda, a stuffed fresh pasta that is filled with Raviggiolo and Parmesan cheese and served in chicken broth.

Additionally, a popular dish to get is a variety of bruschetta, which is toasted bread with a variety of local toppings, such as meat and cheese. We saw this at most of the restaurants and ordered some to try, which you can see in the photo below.

Outside of fresh, handmade pasta, Brisighella is in the middle of a renaissance of forgotten fruits. Local farmers have started to grow crops of popular fruits from the Middle Ages that have almost been forgotten and lost and wild plants.

This makes for a fun tasting trip if you happen to be in town during the harvest season for these crops.

These forgotten fruits include:

  • Volpine Pear | Harvest time: October – November
  • Arbutus | Harvest time: November – December
  • Cornelian Cherry | Harvest time: November – December
  • Quince | Harvest time: October – November
  • Jujube | Harvest time: September
  • Medlar | Harvest time: September
  • Sorb-apple | Harvest time: October – November

Some of these fruits aren’t very tasty when eaten fresh, so even if your trip dates don’t align with the picking season, you can try many of these as preserves or jams.

Finally, many local vineyards in Brisighella produce local wine, which makes for a great activity.

Some popular local wines that you will want to discover include:

  • Sangiovese di Romagna | Red Wine
  • Cagnina di Romagna | Red Wine
  • Romagna Pagadebit | White Wine
  • Pignoletto | Sparkling White Wine

10. Thermal Springs

The area in and around Brisighella is full of thermal springs. While the thermal baths in Brisighella proper have been permanently closed, you are a quick drive from the town of Riolo Terme, which offers a top-rated spa by the Italian Ministry of Health.

Constructed in 1870, this thermal bath and surrounding area look like you’ve stepped into a perfectly manicured movie set. At the Riolo Terme, you can take a mud bath, or simply relax in the thermal pools.

Riolo Terme is only open during the Thermal Season, which typically extends from early April to late November.

11. Pieve di Tho

Pieve di Tho, officially known as Pieve di San Giovanni in Ottavo, is the oldest parish church in the Lamone Valley. Located one kilometer from Brisighella on the road to Florence, this beautiful building was constructed sometime between the 8th and 10th centuries A.D.

The architecture of the building is in the Romanic style. It is believed that the church was built in place of an ancient temple dedicated to the Roman god Jupiter Ammon. If, like me, you didn’t know who Jupiter Ammon was, he was a North African oracled believed to be an embodiment of Jupiter.

Inside the parish, you can find beautiful artwork, such as frescoes from the 14th and 15th centuries, a wooden crucifix, and an impressive crypt.

The church is only open to visitors on Sundays. From April 15th to October 15th the opening hours are from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, and from October 16th to April 14th, the opening hours are from 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm.

However, even if you aren’t in Brisighella on a Sunday afternoon, or you have other conflicting plans during the opening hours, a walk or a drive to the Pieve di Tho is still worthwhile to observe and soak in the history of this building.

Map of Brisighella

This map includes the best things to do in Brisighella, plus the best places to eat. You can use it to easily navigate your way around town.

To save the map to Google Maps on your phone or computer, click on the star next to the title. Once you do this, you’ll be able to find the map in your “saved maps” list on your phone.

To see a list of all the items on the map, click the box with arrow on the left. To enlarge the map, click the box on the right.

Where to Eat in Brisighella

For being a small city, Brisighella sure knows how to pack a punch in the culinary scene. There is no shortage of restaurants for you to try within this charming medieval village.

Here are some of our recommendations for places to eat while in Brisighella.

  1. Ristorante la Cavallina | Located just outside of town, Ristorante la Cavallina is attached to a hotel sharing the same name. This little restaurant offers stunning views, fresh ingredients, and friendly service. They are only open for dinner on the weekdays but do offer lunch on the weekends.We recommend doing the tasting menu, where you’ll get to sample all of the best menu items highlighted at the restaurant.
  2. Ristorante L’Infinito | Ristorante L’Infinito is a modern Italian restaurant tucked in the gulley between the La Rocca Manfrediana and the clock tower. If you go for dinner during a summer night, you’ll dine with some of the best views in all of Italy.While their menu is always changing, we highly recommend trying their spoja lorda (a local specialty), their fried eggs with black truffle and parmigiano reggiano sauce, or their Passatelli.
  3. Ristorante la Grotta | Ristorante la Grotta is one of Brisighella’s most revered restaurants. Set inside the ancient chalk caves, the setting and ambiance couldn’t be any more unique. As this is one of Brisighella’s most popular restaurants, we highly recommend making a reservation if you wish to dine here.The menu is constantly changing with the seasons to bring you the best fish and meat for the time of year. Ristorante la Grotta is worth a visit, bringing you the authentic flavors of Romagna’s cuisine.
  4. Cantina del Bonsignore | Housed inside a medieval cellar in the city center, Cantina del Bonsignore is a staple in Brisighella. When you dine here, you feel as if you’ve stepped back into medieval times.We recommend ordering the bruschetta fantasy, a sampler of 4 unique bruschetta flavor pairings that we are sure you’ve never tasted before. Just be prepared, Bruschetta does not always contain tomatoes.We also highly recommend trying either the Cappelletti or Spoja Lorda in broth. These traditional local dishes are worth the meal, especially on a cooler fall or winter night.
  5. Carletto Cafe Gelateria | This small corner cafe is the perfect spot to pick up a coffee or drink on your trip, and they have a wide variety of freshly made gelato. Located next to the park, you can either grab your gelato to go as you wander around town or enjoy your treat in the park.

Where to Stay in Brisighella

We spent 2 nights in Brisighella and stayed at Azienda Agricola Baccagnano. It’s located just a 2-minute drive from the center of town and is hidden away near vineyards and the hills. We highly recommend staying here!

The owner is very personable and the rooms are stylish and clean. They make their own wine, so you can enjoy a wine tasting with the owner if you like. The breakfast is also excellent.

Here are a few additional hotels in Brisighella:

  • Casa Maghinardo | Located in the center of Brisighella, this lovely hotel features rooms with a private terrace and a delicious breakfast.
  • Albergo La Rocca | This modern hotel is located in the center of town and some rooms have a view of the clock tower.
  • Agriturismo Torre del Marino | If you’re looking for a charming Brisighella agriturismo with amazing views, then stay here. It’s located about a 10-minute drive from Brisighella overlooking the hills.

How much time to spend in Brisighella

If you are short on time or are simply passing through on your way to or from Florence, you can visit the main sites in Brisighella in a couple of hours.

However, if you have more time in your itinerary, we highly recommend spending one to two nights in Brisighella to fully experience everything it has to offer. Brisighella is easily one of the best villages in Emilia Romagna, and with other towns nearby, it can serve as a great hub for a long weekend trip.

When is the best time to visit Brisighella?

Brisighella is best in the spring, summer, and fall, between May and November. If you have a choice, we’d recommend visiting in late summer and early fall so you still have long nights, but you will also get to see the trees and plants in their most beautiful states.

Is Brisighella worth visiting?

Yes, Brisighella is absolutely worth visiting for anyone who enjoys breathtaking views, charming medieval villages, and a serene escape from the city. This is one of our favorite villages to visit in all of Northern Italy. Brisighella is an easy place to spend a day or a weekend surrounded by stunning views, fantastic food, and ancient history.

How to get to Brisighella

While Brisighella is a small town tucked into the Apennine Mountains, it is easily accessible, with a train station, bus stops, and a well-paved highway. Whether you are driving by car or taking public transport, Brisighella is an easy destination to plan on your journey.

As a bonus, Brisighella offers free parking near the train station for those who are making the drive.

Faenza to Brisighella

  • Public transport: Trains from Faenza to Brisighella leave frequently and only take 11 -15 minutes. This short journey makes it easy to get to and from Brisighella for your day trip. Train tickets cost around €2.50 for a one-way journey.
  • Driving: If you have your car, you’ll head towards Via Firenze or SP302 which will take you to the center of Brisighella, where you can find free parking located next to the train station. The drive only takes about 18 minutes.

Ravenna to Brisighella

  • Public transport: From Ravenna train station, you can catch the train early in the morning to get to Brisighella. You will have to transfer trains at the Faenza train station. The total travel time on the train is about 68 minutes. You can also catch a bus from the Ravenna train station which also takes around 68 minutes to reach Brisighella. Tickets cost around €6.80 for a one-way ticket.
  • Driving: If you are driving from Ravenna to Brisighella, you’ll take the road towards Faenza where eventually you’ll connect with the SP302 which will take you into the city center. Estimated travel time is between 45 minutes and 1 hour depending on traffic.

Bologna to Brisighella

  • Public transport: If you are headed from Bologna to Brisighella, you can catch the train at Bologna Centrale station. While there is not a direct route that takes you from Bologna to Brisighella, you only need to make one transfer at Faenza train station. The estimated travel time is around 1 hour and 20 minutes. Tickets cost around €6.80 for a one-way ticket.
  • Driving: To drive from Bologna to Brisighella, you can either take the toll road, or if you prefer, you can take the scenic, but toll-free road. If you take the toll road, you’ll head onto the E45 where you’ll continue until you reach Faenza. From there, you’ll take the SP302 into the city center. The drive time takes between 50 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes depending on traffic.

    If you opt to avoid the toll road, you’ll need to make your way onto the SS9 highway. This is a single-lane road that takes you through the outskirts of many towns through Emilia Romagna. You’ll take the SS9 until you reach Faenza, where you’ll switch onto the SP302 until you reach Brisighella. The drive on this road can take between 1 hour 5 minutes and 1 hour 40 minutes depending on traffic.

Florence to Brisighella

  • Public Transport: Florence offers a direct regional train to Brisighella which takes around 2 hours in total travel time. Tickets only cost around €9.10 for a one-way ticket.
  • Driving: The shortest and most scenic route from Florence to Brisighella is to take the SS65 highway which later connects with the SS302 in Borgo San Lorenzo. The drive takes between 2 and 2.5 hours.

More Information for your Trip to Italy

ITALY TRAVEL PLANNING GUIDE

Italy Travel Insurance – Should you get travel insurance for Italy? YES! We always get travel insurance before all of our trips for peace of mind. Check out Travel Insurance Master to find the best plan for you.

Italy Rental Cars – Is it safe to rent a car in Italy? Yes! We’ve rented a car in Italy too many times to count, and it’s definitely the most convenient way to get around the countryside. We rented our car through Discover Cars (our go-to rental agency), which helps you find the best rates no matter where you are traveling.

Italy Phone Plans – If your phone plan does not offer free coverage in Italy, then we suggest getting an eSIM. We used Airalo during our trip to Italy, and we had fantastic coverage the entire time. It’s easy to download and you can even top up via the app if needed.

Italy Hotels – Wondering where to book your accommodations for Italy? We’ve been reserving all of our hotels through Booking for years. Their messaging tool makes it easy to communicate with the hotels, and there are endless options to choose from.

Leave a Reply

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