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The ancient rite of hospitality in Bertinoro

For tomorrow, at least, the small but pretty town of Bertinoro – some 52 km from Rimini, up in the hills between Forli and Cesena, becomes holder of that most coveted prize – the most hospitable town in a region, Emilia-Romagna, famed for its hospitality.

What gives it the right to claim such a title? Well, an ancient rite which has been continued/resurrected to the present day, where guests visiting the town are invited into the actual homes of bertinorese.

The way it works is this – invited guests gather around the famous Colonna delle Anella in the town centre, where  they will be called one by one to take an envelope attached to the column. In the column is the name of the family that will entertain them for the day. Once the vips have been sorted out – and this is where it gets interesting for tourists – the remainder of the envelopes are up for grabs, so you can potentially be invited into someone’s home from some traditional hospitality.

The Colonna delle anella - Bertinoro's symbol of hospitality

The Colonna delle anella - Bertinoro's symbol of hospitality

The tradition supposedly dates back to the middle ages when a number of peace treaties were brokered here. In the 14th century local lords Guido del Duca and Arrigo Mainardi had the Colona delle Anella erected to end squabbling between local families over who would get to host the most eminent guests. The column was erected, with twelve rings used to tie-up horses, that corresponded to the twelve main families of the town. Guests would arrive and tie their horses to a ring, and thus be consigned to a family.

Bertinoro is also famous for another moment of hospitality, that supposedly gives the town its name. While travelling in the region, the Empress Galla Placida stopped in this place to take a drink – she was offered some Albana wine, and remarked on its wonderful taste thus:

‘Non così umilmente ti si dovrebbe bere, bensì berti in oro, per rendere omaggio alla tua soavità!'(Not so humbly should you be drunk, rather you should be drunk in gold to pay homage to your sweet taste).

All top reasons to head up into the hills to see this charming town.

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