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Romagna is an Italianmarker historical region that approximately corresponds to the south-eastern portion of present-day Emilia-Romagna. Traditionally, it is limited by the Apenninesmarker to the south-west, the Adriaticmarker to the east, and the rivers Reno and Sillaro to the north and west. The region's major cities include Ravennamarker, Cesenamarker, Faenzamarker, Forlìmarker, Imolamarker, Riminimarker and City of San Marinomarker (San Marinomarker is a separate landlocked nation inside the Romagna historical region). The region has been recently formally expanded with the transfer of seven comuni (Casteldelcimarker, Maiolomarker, Novafeltriamarker, Pennabillimarker, San Leomarker, Sant'Agata Feltriamarker, Talamellomarker) from the Marche region, all of which are comuni where Romagnolo dialect is spoken.
Map of Romagna, showing its administrative divisions (new territories not shown)


The name Romagna comes from the Latin name Romània, which originally was the generic name for "land inhabited by Romans", and first appeared on Latin documents in the 5th Century.It later took on the more detailed meaning of "territory subjected to Eastern Roman rule", whose citizens called themselves Romans (Romàioi in Greek) and considered themselves the heirs of Imperial Rome.Thus the term Romània came to be used to refer to the territory administered by the Exarchate of Ravenna in contrary to other parts of Northern Italy under Lombard rule, named Langobardia or Lombardy.Romània later became Romandìola in Vulgar Latin, meaning "little Romània", which became Romagna in modern times.

The Caveja, the symbol of Romagna



A number of archaeological sites in the region, such as Monte Poggiolo, show that Romagna has been inhabited since the Paleolithic age.

Umbri and Gauls

The Umbri, speaking an extinct Italic language called Umbrian, are the first traceable inhabitants of the region. The Etruscanmarker also dwelt in some portions of Romagna.

In the 5th Century BC, various Gaulish tribes, most notably the Lingones, Senoni and Boii, moved south into Italymarker, and sacked Rome in 390 BC. The Senoni utterly subjugated the Umbri and settled in Romagna. The Senoni extended further south to Anconamarker, with their capital Sena Gallica (Senigalliamarker). The lands formerly inhabited by the Senoni were known as ager Gallicus (Gallic plain) to the Romans.

According to the Italian linguist Giacomo Devoto, there are still a number of Celtic substrata in the Romagnolo dialect.

Roman Republic

The Gaul predominance in the region was consistently challenged by the Romans. In the battle of Telamon, the Romans defeated the joint forces of the Celtic tribes, thus achieving a hegemony over the new Roman Province of Cisalpine Gaul centred at Mutina (Modenamarker).

After the Second Punic War, the pro-Carthaginianmarker Lingones and Senoni were expelled. To consolidate the Roman rule in the region, the Via Aemilia was built from Ariminium (Rimini) to Piacentia (Piacenzamarker), and a series of Roman colonies were founded. The most significant ones are Forum Livii (Forlì), Forum Cornelii (Imola) and Forum Popili (Forlimpopolimarker). After the Social War, the Lex Julia was introduced in 90 BC, and Roman citizenship was granted to all municipia south of the River Pomarker.

In the first Roman civil war, between Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Sulla, most cities in the regions supported Marius. As a result, Forum Livii and Caesenamarker were razed to ground, and the region was looted by Sulla's army.

During the first triumvirate, the Roman Republic was divided along the infamous Rubicon. Most of modern Romagna was ruled by Julius Caesar, the notable exception of Ariminiummarker, which is south of the river. In 49 BC, Caesar, who was residing in Ravenna then, led the Legio XIII across the Rubicon and ignited Caesar's civil war.

Roman Empire

After the decisive battle of Actiummarker, Augustus started a century-long era of Pax Romana. All of Cisalpine Gaul had been incorporated into the Roman province of Italia. Around 7 BC, Augustus divided all of Italy into eleven regiones, and most of Romagna (except Riminimarker) was in the eighth, Aemilia.

By the beginning of the 3rd Century, Diocletian re-divided the Empire into four prefectures, each divided into dioceses, and into provinces. Under the new system, Italy was demoted to a mere Imperial province. Modern Romagna was organized into the Roman province of Flaminia et Picenum in the diocese of Italia Annonaria.

Steadily Ravenna, which was surrounded by swamps and marshes, prospered and rose in importance, and a Roman fleet was based at the city. It had developed into a major port on the Adriaticmarker. However, in 330, the capital of the Empire was transferred to Constantinoplemarker, so with the fleet that stationed at Ravenna, thus weakened the coastal defence in the Adriaticmarker.

Germanic migrations and Exarchate of Ravenna

Stepping into the 5th Century, the incursions of the Germans into the Empire further intesified. In 402, Emperor Honorius even moved the Western Roman Empire's capital from Mediolanum to Ravenna, mainly because of the region's defensive terrain. 8 years later, Alaric I of the Visigoths looted Rome. In 476, Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustus in Ravenna, thus marked an end to the Western Empire.

Encouraged by Emperor Zeno, Theodoric the Great led the Ostrogoths into Italy. He entered Ravenna and murdered Odoacer in 493, establishing a twofold kingdommarker of the Romans and Goths. Under the Ostrogoths Italy was partly restored to its former prosperity.

In 535 Justinian I initiated the Gothic War. It was fought for 20 years, and bitterly the Ostrogoths were finally subjugated. The peninsula, depopulated and devastated, was ruled by an exarch from Ravenna. However, Imperial authority was maintained for barely more than a decade. In 568 new Germanic tribes, namely the Lombards, entered Italy and established their capital at Paviamarker. The Empire could barely defend the region around Ravenna and Rome, connected by a narrow strip of land passing through Perugiamarker, as well as a series of coastal cities. The Imperial frontier retreated to Bolognamarker.

In 727 the Lombard King Liutprand renewed the war against the Byzantines, taking most of Romagna and besieged Ravenna itself. They were returned to the Byzantines in 730. In 737 the king entered Romagna once more and took Ravenna. The exarch, Eutychius, retook the region in 740, with Venetianmarker assistance. Eventually another Lombard king, Aistulf, conquered Romagna and marked an end to the exarchate in 751.

Papal rule

Piazza Saffi, Forlì.
The Romagna was officially ceded to the Papal States by Rudolf I of Germany in 1278. However, the Papal control over it remained scanty and often nominal for much of the following centuries. The area was divided among a series of regional lords, like the Ordelaffi of Forlì and the Malatesta of Rimini, many of them naturally adhering to the Ghibelline party in natural opposition to the pro-papal Guelphs. This situation started to change in the late 15th century, when after their return to Rome stronger popes progressively reasserted their authority in the fragemented region. Other powers also seized various part of Romagna, including Venice and most notably the Republic of Florence which expanded up to Forlì and Cervia, building the famous city-fortress of Terra del Solemarker. The Florentine Romagna remained part of Tuscany until 1920s.

In 1500 Cesare Borgia, illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI, carved for himself an ephemeral Duchy of Romagna, but his lands were reabsorbed into the Papal States after his fall. The Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis divided Romagna between the Farnese family, the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza, the House of Este of Ferrara, the Duchy of Modena and Reggio, and the Papal States.

This situation lasted until the French invasion of 1796, which brought tragic feats (massacre of Lugomarker, looting, heavy taxation, abolition of Cesena University) but also innovative ideas in social and political fields. During the Napoleonic rule Romagna received for the first time recognition, with the creation of the provinces of the Pino (Ravenna) and Rubicone (Forlì). When in 1815 the Congress of Vienna re-established the pre-war situation, secret anti-Papal societies were formed, and riots broke out in 1820, 1830-31 and 1848.

This opposition was fuelled by the Mazzini propaganda and the direct action of Giuseppe Garibaldi. Men like Felice Orsini, Piero Maroncelli and Aurelio Saffi were among the protagonists of the Italian Risorgimento.

In a re-united Italy

However, after joining the reunification of Italy in 1860, Romagna did not receive a separate status by the Savoy monarchs, who were afraid of dangerous destabilizing tendencies in the wake of the popular figures cited above.

In the early 20th century the autonomy of Romagna was advocated by Aldo Spallicci, Giuseppe Fuschini, Emilio Lussu and others. A movement proposing separation from Emilia-Romagna was created in the 1990s.


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