Bertinoro's home page is at www.commune.bertinoro.fo.it (italian only).

It is something of a habit in Italy, whenever learning of a new place, to spend at least the first hour in discussion about its typical dishes (i.e. the local specialities). The local pasta is strozzapreti, strangle the priests, short lumpy strands of pasta in a tomato sauce. The name is supposed to come from resentment at the Pope's invasion of the area in the 1500s (he still owns the fortress in which the conference is held). There is a local version of piadine, bread, but then again every village in Italy claims its own version and they are all identical. The wines are Albana and Sangiovese, grown in the Po valley to the north.

Bertinoro must boast the highest ratio of restaurants to people anywhere in the world - 40 restaurants, 1000 inhabitants. The village's economy is entirely centered around catering to the conference center and its guests.

The village is dominated by la rocca, The Rock, a commanding 5th fortress built on top of the village's hill. The pope turned this fortress into an arch-episocopal palace. It was abandoned during the second world war, and in the late 1990s was restored by the University of Bologna as a conference center.

Bertinoro also prides itself on its tradition of hospitality. The local noble families would fight over who would have the privilege of hosting visitors. Eventally a stone pillar was erected in the center of town with a number of iron rings, one ring per family. Whenever a new visitor arrived, and tethered their horse to the ring, the corresponding family would get to play host. The visitors would have been pilgrims in the middle-ages on their way to Rome from Brittany. Some say that the name "Bertinoro" is a corruption of "Brittany". But a more interesting legend is of one visitor being served some of the local wine: "this wine is so good we must drink it not in a metal goblet, but drink it in gold" (bere in oro).

Nearby (30 minutes west by car) is Brisighella, home of gourmet olive oil in Italy. It also boasts a very elegant restaurant, and thermal baths for curative and aesthetic treatment. (Check in advance before going - the thermal baths shut for the winter around this time.)

The Adriatic coast (30 minutes east by car) is visible from the fortress hill. Close to the coast the cuisine becomes almost entirely fish-based. Marcella, foreign-fêted queen of the Italian kitchen, swears that the adriatic gamberetti (morton bay prawns) are the best in the world.

Forlì (20 minutes north by car) is the birthplace of Mussolini.

For anyone planning a few days of tourism, it has to be said that Bologna is the undiscovered gem of Northern Italy. It houses the oldest still-running university in the world, a giant medieval basilica, a lively student population and mouthwatering food. "If Adam gave up eternal life for an apple, what would he have done for a plate of Tortellini?" There is a superstition that if you climb up the tower at the center of Bologna then you will not get your thesis; empirical evidence suggests that the opposite is true. If you book a week or so in advance you can go on a tour of traditional balsamic vinegar production in nearby Modena (e.g. at the Acetaias Del Cristo or San Giacomo or Sereni). The Apenines, rising up from just outside the city walls of Bologna, are beautiful. There are several local truffle festivals in October and November.