[Emilia Romagna Slow] The Romea Nonantolana Way
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Talking about the birth and development of the Romea Nonantolana Way, we have to go back in times to the 7th century, when the northern part of the Italian peninsula was divided between the territories conquered by the Byzantines and those belonging to the Longobards. At that time, due to the conflict between the two kingdoms, the two major communication routes with the rest of Italy (Via Flaminia and Via Emilia) were occupied in various sectors by the two enemy armies, which made difficult to cross all along the Italy.
Longobards, that were attested in Modena, they had a need for safe communication routes and far from Byzantine outposts; In 749, therefore, under the reign of King Aistulf, the Lombards proceeded to reorganize the viability of their possessions with the foundation of a Benedictine monastery near Sestola and Fanano, at the time a necessary structure to suppor all those who wanted to cross the Apennines.
A few years later, in 752 Anselmo, the King Aistulf’s brother, founded another monastery in Nonantola, an act that at the time was dictated by religious matters but also and above all dictated by political and military reasons and connected with the need to control the plain territories of Emilia Romagna, as well as sealing the borders of the Longobard Kingdom with a stamp of inviolability through the establishment of a monastic spiritual structure.
Notantola and its monastery thus became the new center of the road linking the two monasteries and the road connecting them took the name of Romea Nonantolana way, a track that was traveled over time by militias, pilgrims and caravans.
With the decadence of Nonantola and with the affirmation of the neighboring cities of Modena and Bologna, the Nonantolana Way lost the territorial unity where was born and slowly began to decline with the fragmentation of the original plot.
The Romea Nonantolana Way is now part of the “European Walks” project: a European network of history, culture and tourism and it is possible to walk it in two directions: the western route, which develops along the left bank of the Panaro River, and the eastern route, which on the other hand runs the right bank. Both paths leave from Nonantola and join Fanano and then continue towards the Apennine ridge in direction of the city of Rome.
Hamlets along the Way
Among the most suggestive religious itineraries in the Modena Province, the Romea Nonantolana Way it is also known due its crossing of some of the most renowned villages in the Province of Modena. This is the case of Fanano, a small hamlet embedded within the Regional Park of the High Modena Apennines and renowned for the outdoor activities such as walks, mountain bikes in the summer months, snowshoes and skiing in winter.
From Fanano you can also reach the summit of Cimone Mount which with its 2,165 meters is the highest peak of the Northern Apennines.
Technical specifications and services
The Nonantolana Way today is a 105 km long track that winds almost entirely along the Modenese valley of Emilia Romagna and is usually divided into 6 stages you can approach by foot, bike or on horseback.
On the official website of Cammini Storici you can view the details of the individual stages as well as look for points of interest along the route and the accommodation facilities.
Regions crossed: Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Lazio
The western route
1st Stage | Nonantola – Modena 15.5 km
The first leg allows hikers to reach Modena, with its UNESCO cathedral, starting out from the monumental Abbey of Nonantola, along secondary roads with little traffic and bike paths in the city nearing the city center.
2nd Stage | Modena – Castelvetro 20.5 km
The second leg, which ends in Castelvetro, along the bike path created along the old train track Modena-Vignola and the bike path along the river Guerro, takes the hiker into a characteristic and suggestive country landscape dotted with vineyards.
3rd Stage | Castelvetro – Coscogno 21 km
The third leg from Castelvetro to Coscogno, once past the lovely town of Levizzano Rangone, hikers will need to clamber up the right bank of the river Guerro to climb the Tre Croci mountain, an enchanting place from which you can enjoy a great panoramic view, to then move on to the towns of Denzano and Ospitaletto.
4th Stage | Coscogno – Pavullo nel Frignano 15 km
The fourth leg reaches the town of Pavullo nel Frignano and in particular its monumental Montecuccolo Castle, with its annexed medieval town, home to an important artistic and natural museum center.
5th Stage | Pavullo nel Frignano – Fanano 18.5 km
The fifth leg traverses the valley of the river Scoltenna to reach the town of Fanano, going past, in order, the characteristic town of medieval origins Renno di Sopra, the Pieve di San Giovanni Battista in Renno and the town of Rocchetta Sandri.
6th Stage | Fanano – pass of Croce Arcana 13 km
The last leg runs along the valley of the river Ospitale up to the historic pass of Croce Arcana at an altitude of 1675 m. In the leg that goes from Fanano to Ospitale the route runs along the paths and mule tracks with an ancient feel offering evocative glimpses of the river Ospitale. Once past the town of Ospitale little by little you reach the high altitude prairies with great views that open up over both the Emilia valleys and, once at the pass, also Tuscany.
The eastern route
1st Stage | Nonantola – Spilamberto 21.5 km
The first leg goes to Spilamberto, home of the Consortium of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, running along dirt roads, streets and bike paths into the city center.
2nd Stage | Spilamberto – Vignola 8 km
The second leg, which ends in the city of cherries, goes mostly along a nature path that runs along the riverPanaro. The fortress of Vignola, symbol of the city, is majestic; it represents one of the most interesting examples of fortified architecture in the region.
3rd Stage | Vignola – Samone 20 km
The third leg, which crosses through the heart of the Parco dei Sassi di Roccamalatina, starts out along a nature trail that runs along the river Panaro up to the town of Casona, and, once having crossed the river, begins to go up along narrow paths to the Pieve di Trebbio, passing by the majestic arenaceous pinnacles, symbol of the park, to finally reach the town of Samone.
4th Stage | Samone – Montese 18.5 km
The fourth leg goes to Montese after having crossed the summit of the Riva mountains, the lovely town ofMontalbano, and a path along the CAI trails marked with numbers 400, 434, 440.
5th Stage | Montese – Fanano 22.5 km
From Montese the long and tiring fifth leg goes to Fanano, passing through the small towns of Maserno, Castelluccio, Rocca Corneta and Trignano. The panorama that can be enjoyed from the Croce mountain not far from the town of Castelluccio is incredibly vast and the part from Rocca Corneta to Trignano along the left bank of the river Dardagna is enchanting.
6th Stage | Fanano – pass of Croce Arcana 13 km
The last leg runs along the valley of the river Ospitale going to the historic pass of Croce Arcana at and altitude of 1675 m. Along the path from Fanano to Ospitale the route runs along paths and mule tracks with an ancient feel offering evocative glimpses of the river Ospitale. Once past the town of Ospitale little by little you reach the high altitude prairies with great views that open up over both the Emilia valleys and, once at the pass, also Tuscany.
Length: the western route is 103.5 km long; the eastern route is also 103.5 km long
Level of difficulty: medium
IAT Information and Tourist Office
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