Exploring Brisighella With Kids
We didn’t stay in the Baby Bus during our time in Brisighella, however, we have included a few bits of info about where you could stay in a motorhome/campervan for anyone interested.
Brisighella – a beautiful gem
Brisighella has been another of those gems that we have discovered almost by chance – a bit like stumbling upon Lagrasse in France. My parents flew to Bologna for their summer holiday, and so that’s where we headed after our time in France, to meet up with them. When they arrived we had been staying at a campsite in the hills south of Bologna. I fell ill with a rotten cold, the heat was beginning to get overwhelming again, and we were 2 hours away from my parents.
They were staying at an agritourismo just outside of Brisighella (details below), so we decided to look for somewhere around there to stay. In the end, my cold and the increasing heat, meant we decided a few days in a hotel was the best way for us to enjoy the time with my parents.
La Rocca Hotel in Brisighella
A quick search threw up the La Rocca Hotel in Brisighella, and the reviews were quite outstanding. There we especially high reviews from families, which for anyone travelling with kids is very reassuring to hear. We were impressed with the nightly price, which also included breakfast, so we booked 3 nights after checking where we could leave the Baby Bus.
Our room was clean and specious, with a double bed and two single camp beds. There was a modern bathroom and even a balcony overlooking the street below. The owners were helpful and friendly, the son and chef even helped Nick out with finding a local garage to do the work we needed on the Baby Bus. Plus the breakfast that was included was delicious – lots of cakes, biscuits and pastries (this is Italy after all), hams and salami, cheese, and then cereals, toast, yoghurt and so on.
La Rocca also has a beautiful roof terrace over two levels, which we first visited just after the sun had set. It was magical! Looking out across the roofs, over the smokey coloured hills, up to the illuminated clock tower, and all beneath a glowing moon. We could hardly believe that we were staying in such a beautiful place that was welcoming of families.
Brisighella playground and park
A short wander down from the main square, and there is a lovely park with a huge fountain called ‘The Ball’. There is a pleasant children’s playground, with swings, slide, roundabout, and plenty of bits to climb up. There are also lots of benches, and we visited here a number of times during our stay. It was the perfect place for Nick to take our daughters whilst I worked in our hotel room.
Via del Borgo or “Donkey Alley”
One afternoon with my parents we went in search of the ‘Donkey Alley’, which came up a lot on internet searches for the town. It didn’t disappoint. The facade of the building is painted all different colours and it has these half moon shaped windows. You enter into the building, up a flight of old stone steps, and find yourself in a magical covered street.
The ceiling is low and made of warm wooden beams, and the floor undulates like a ripple in terracotta coloured stones. Light is cast across the floor from the half moon windows, which if you are 5 years old you can just see out of on tipy-toe. All along the Donkey Alley are doors, into what feels like the hillside. It is like something from a fairytale, or perhaps The Hobbit.
As we wandered along, most of us in quiet awe of this unusual place, someone left one of the doors open (are they houses? Quite possibly as they were all numbered). With the door left open we were afforded a glimpse in. It was dark with no windows, a corridor lined with heavy antique furniture and gold crucifixes. At least, that’s what I remember seeing.
Exploring the streets of Brisighella
Much of Brisighella is a warren of tiny streets, old stone staircases, and ancient looking churches that tower over you. Pottering along one street, we heard this beautiful bird song. My mum, eldest daughter and I, stopped to listen. Behind us a lace curtained door opened, and an elderly lady motioned for us to peep in. There in a cage was the bird we’d heard singing. Another little moment of magic for us in Brisighella.
One of the things we’ve enjoyed most about the towns we’ve visited on our adventure so far, is just exploring the streets and slowing down to discover all their little curiosities. We particularly loved the big old church on the square, and our eldest daughter asked to go in a number of times to light a candle and look around.
Eating out in Brisighella
Cafe on the square
A lot of our time was spent in Caffe Aurora, which sits on the square in Brisighella. After nearly two months away it was lovely to just sit and chat, and for our girls to spend time with their grandparents. We drank cappuncinos and ate gelato, these also did some nice savoury ‘croissants’ filled with proscuitto and cheese.
Dinner at La Rocca Hotel
One evening my parents treated us to a meal at La Rocca. It was delicious food and a lovely atmosphere sat out on their covered terrace – and not too many mosquitoes either! We ate delicate starters of courgette flower terrine, baked ricotta with roasted vegetables, and a porcini mushroom salad. There was tagliatelle al ragu, courgette flower and scquacquerone cheese risotto, nettle tortellini, gnocchi with beetroot, and baked lamb with the best rosemary roasted potatoes.
Light lunch by the park
For one lunch we tried another cafe located on the edge of the park – Carletto Cafe. It had lots of outdoor seating and was always full of people when we walked past. We shared a caprese salad, proscuitto and melon, and piadina filled with mozzarella, tomatoes and ham. Everything was tasty, colourful, and pretty generous portions.
Delicious takeaway pizza
The final place that we ate out in Brisighella, was at Pausa Pizza. It’s located on the main road and has a few tables and benches outside. Planted around the street trees were sunflowers and tomatoes, it was so jolly.
We had hoped to sit with our pizzas outside but a combination of tired children and mosquitoes put pay to that, and we ate them in our hotel room. There was so much choice for toppings it took us a while to choose with working out what the various ingredients were in English. I was really pleased with my pizza that had fresh tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella.
Handmade pasta in Brisighella
As we were staying in a hotel we didn’t really need to do a lot of food shopping during our stay in Brisighella. We did, however, cook dinner in the Baby Bus one night as we were tempted by the tiny shop selling homemade pasta. Arte del Matterello is an unassuming shop on the street that runs down through the middle of Brisighella, with photos outside it showing the ladies making pasta.
It was dark inside the little shop, with one lit counter with a shelf of various types of handmade pasta, and a shelf of sweet pastries and biscuits. When we entered we could see a lady through the doorway making the pasta, quickly folding tortellini and placing them on a tray. With our limited Italian we managed to understand the various types of pasta, although we did end up ordering rather a lot due to our lack of words for ‘less’!
We chose tortellini filled with meat, ravioli filled with nettle and ricotta, and this local scquaquerone cheese filled pasta called ‘spoja lorda’ (pictured on the tray held above). I cooked them simply with melted butter. Delicious.
On the Wednesday during our stay in Brisighella, we stumbled across the weekly market. There were about eight stalls, a mixture of fresh produce, cheeses and hams, and clothes and accessories. As we were staying at the hotel we weren’t able to buy anything, but mum and dad bought some of these incredible looking tomatoes.
An infinity pool with mountain views
On our final night in Brisighella, which was also my parents final night before they flew back to England, we were invited to their beautiful agriturismo for a swim in the pool. During our stay we had seen multiple photos of this incredible infinity pool with mountain top views and stunning sunset swims.
Agriturismo La Corte del Re was every bit as stunning as my parents photographs had made it out to be. There was a long and slightly bumpy journey up to it’s mountainside location (we left the Baby Bus in a car park part the way up, and my dad drove us the rest of the way!), then through big gates and down a immaculately cared for drive.
There are two tiny cottages with far reaching views, equipped with a kitchen and living space in addition to bedrooms and bathroom. The owners Vincenzo and Fedalma were so warm and we were so grateful to them for inviting us to swim in their pool. All of us were delighted to go for a cool swim after the heat of the past week. If you fancy a holiday to Brisighella but want your own living space and a pool, then do consider La Corte del Re.
All in all, Brisighella swept us off our feet with its magical streets, good food, and welcoming residents. If you’re planning a trip to Brisighella I’ve marked on the map at the top of the post all the places I’ve mentioned, plus a few extra. I found that some of the places on Google Maps weren’t located where we found them when we visited, so I’ve put my markers where we found them at the time of visiting (August 2018).
Do check out the rest of our family travel guides for more tips on our favourite places we’ve visited.
Our Top Tips for Visiting Brisighella
Brisighella Places to Visit
We visited in August 2018.
- Exploring: Don’t miss a wander along the Donkey Alley, it’s truly magical. The large church (S.Michele) in the square is worth a look in as there are some beautiful paintings. If it hadn’t been so hot we would have liked to hiked up to either the church, fortress, or clock tower that loom over Brisighella.
- Where to stay: We stayed at La Rocca Hotel, it had incredibly high reviews online, and was noted to be especially family friendly. We found all this to be true. It’s family run and everyone was very welcoming. We stayed in a quadruple room, which had a lovely balcony overlooking the street below. If you want self-catering, check out Agriturismo Corte del Re where my parents stayed, which is just outside Brisighella.
- Eating out: For a delightful evening meal we can recommend La Rocca. For a light lunch we ate at Carletto Cafe on the edge of the park.
- Gelato: For lovely gelato and a spot to sit on the squarec we enjoyed Caffe Aurora Gelateria & Bar.
- Pizza: Pausa Pizza on Via A. Maglioni gets our vote for affordable tasty pizza. Available as takeaway, or a few seats to sit in.
- Shopping: If you are able to cook, don’t miss the handmade pasta from Arte del Matterello. For bread there is a tiny bakery Castellari Valerio next to La Rocca. For general groceries we used the mini market and grocery shop on the corner near La Rocca. We also spotted a butchers and cheese shop around the back of La Rocca, but never went. If you are on holiday and have money to spend, take a look in Bottega degli Asini, it’s full of the most beautiful handprinted fabric items.
- Trains: You can get the train from Brisighella to Bologna, which we tried to do one day but failed because all the trains were delayed. It would be great for a day out from Brisighella, or likewise if you were staying in Bologna, to come visit Brisighella for the day.
- Motorhome/Camper parking: If you are visiting Brisighella for the day in a motorhome or camper, there is parking by the cemetery for free.
- Market: The Brisighella weekly market is on Wednesday.
Check out all our other blog posts on Italy here.
Brisighella Camper Aire
We didn’t stay here, but are providing details of what we saw (August 2018).
- Address: Via Giuseppe Billi, 48013 Brisighella RA, Italy.
- Directions: It’s set back off the main road that runs through Brisighella.
- Cost: €10 for 24 hours according to this website. We saw a machine at the aire, which we assume was how you paid.
- Facilities: Water, chemical toilet disposal, and grey water dump.
- Site: Simple tarmac car park in a residential area.