Emilia Romagna Slow | The Pilgrims paths in Emilia Romagna


Emilia Romagna Slow | The Pilgrims paths in Emilia Romagna

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Walking slowly, savoring the rhythm of steps on the earth, traveling with eyes to the horizon, where the sky merges with the sea and the earth.

A journey on foot brings emotions, a wealth of sensations and perceptions hard to understand from home. The landscapes and views which open up to the rhythm of the steps, the stealthy encounters with the inhabitants of the wood, the scents of the mountain.. all of these are elements that are hard to find their place outside the moment we feel them.


Francigena Way – Ph. www.viefrancigene.org

Every walker is always looking for an inner dimension that manifests itself in a situation, in an encounter with a particular nature that is not just a vision but something more that ends up involving the domain of the spirit.

Emilia Romagna has always been a land of passage. Positioned horizontally with respect to Italy, it was an obligatory stop for travelers, goods, and pilgrims traveling to the regions of Europe and the Mediterranean. But Emilia Romagna is also a land rich in ancient testimonies of faith enclosed in its own culture and all along the streets that once ran between abbeys and convents, cathedrals and ancient places of worship. For pilgrims, all these itineraries were a source of safety because they crossed pure, spiritual places and represented the true sign of the hospitality through the many stopping points along the valleys of the Apennines.

Today all these Pilgrims Paths are drawn on a map that leads to the slow soul of the territory, naturalistic and religious tourism destinations around which revolve worlds related to art, sustainable experience and tradition of a part of Emilia-Romagna still to discover.

Pilgrims paths

The Pilgrimage routes in Emilia Romagna

Today, Emilia-Romagna offers the chance to travel 14th of these ancient Pilgrims Paths, characterized by a strong spiritual, historical and naturalistic value. These paths are all mapped and largely marked with specific indications and are: the Francigena Way, recognized today by the European Council as a cultural itinerary; the Romea Germanica Way, the Romea Nonantolana and Romea Longobarda Way, ancient European pilgrimage routes to Rome; the Abbots Way, which retraces the paths followed by the Abbots to cross the Apennines; the St. Anthony’s Walk, the Assisi Way, the St. Vicinio Way, the Saint Francis’s Walk, linked to the places characterized by the life of St. Francis and St. Anthony; the Way of the Gods, which connects Bologna to Florence; the Matildica Way that combines the Reggio Apennines to Tuscany; the Piccola Cassia Way, one of the many paths that led to Rome joining the Francigena Way; the Linari Way, in the Parma area; the Dante’s Walk, which connects Ravenna to Florence.

The Abbots Way

Stages in Emilia-Romagna: 6
Length in Emilia-Romagna: 127 Km

Opened by the monks of Bobbio who traveled it as a safe route between the cities of Pavia and Rome; the Abbots Way was closely connected with the monasteries of Gravago, Corte Torresana and San Giovanni in Pontremoli – Bobbio – and allowed a complete control both of the travelers and of the caravans to and from Rome through the northern Apennines. The route was also used by Irish pilgrims who on their way to Rome included a stop in Bobbio to pray on the tomb of St. Columban, the Irish abbot-founder of the local Abbey.

Francigena Way

Stages in Emilia-Romagna: 6
Length in Emilia-Romagna: 143 Km

The Francigena Way is a long European-style itinerary starting from Canterbury and finishing to the tomb of St. Peter’s in Rome, crossing along its path four countries and thirteen European regions.
Born as a detailed travel report of the tenth century AD edited by the Bishop Sigerico, it has seen in the centuries a constant stream of pilgrims, which has made it both a privileged place for communication of different European cultures and both an artistic and economic forge of Modern Europe.
In the Emilia Romagna stretch, the Francigena Way runs along some historic villages of great historical and spiritual value such as Berceto.

Linari Way

Stages in Emilia-Romagna: 7
Length in Emilia-Romagna: 110 Km

The Linari Way was originally founded as a safe detour from the Francigena Way route through the Lagastrello Pass and took its name from the homonymous Abbey located on the ridge between Tuscany and Emilia Romagna Region.

Matildica of the Holy Face Way

Stages in Emilia-Romagna: 9
Length in Emilia-Romagna: 140 Km

The Matildica Way is a route which allows retracing the ancient itineraries that crossed northern Italy within the ancient kingdom of the Countess Matilde di Canossa. In these lands, we can still read the signs left by Matilda, Sant’Anselmo from Lucca and of San Pellegrino, the Scottish prince who in the footsteps of Saint Columbanus has retraced the same path from Northern Europe. The route was part of the wider European road network that connected the city of Rome to the Nothern European Kingdoms.
The Matildica of the Holy Face Way today links Mantua, UNESCO city and birthplace of the same Countess, to Lucca, and crossing the villages of Guastalla and Gualtieri, now included in the list of the most beautiful villages Italy. The route reaches then the town of Reggio Emilia, the Canossa Castle and the uncontaminated nature of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines National Park.
The trail then descends towards the Tuscan hills of Garfagnana, to finally reach the Tuscan city of Lucca.

Romea Nonantolana Way

Stages in Emilia-Romagna: 6
Length in Emilia-Romagna: 207 Km

By Lombard origin, the Romea Nonantolana Way owes its name to the Abbey of Nonantola, starting point of the Way, and is now part of the “European’s Routes” project: a European network of history, culture, and tourism.
The Romea Nonantolana Way is divided into two distinct paths: the western route, which runs along the left bank of the Panaro river, and the eastern route, which runs, instead, through the right bank. Both tracks start from Nonantola and rejoin in Fanano and then continue towards the pass of Croce Arcana.
The route of the Romea Nonantolana Way is grafted (limited to the Emilia Romagna stretch), on the Romea Strata Way, which from the north east of Italy goes to Rome joining also, in the village of Fucecchio – Tuscany, with the Francigena Way, in the direction to the city of Rome.

Longobarda – Romea Strata Nonantolana Way

Stages in Emilia-Romagna: 12
Length in Emilia-Romagna: 186 Km

The name Longobarda Romea Strata Way once referred to a series of ancient itineraries that from Central Eastern Europe reached the borders of the Italian peninsula.
Being the journey made up of several tracks, it was usually divided into seven different small paths that met themselves into Emilia Romagna at the height of Badia Polesine. Regarding the Emilia-Romagna stretch, the Via Romea Strata is called also Romea Longobarda -Nonantolana, as it is grafted for a long stretch on the Via Romea Nonantolana, crossing some great centers of pilgrimage such as the Modena Cathedral, the Nonantola Abbey, and the Fanano Pilgrims’ Hostel.
After crossing the Apennine ridge, Via Romea Longobarda goes down towards Pistoia and San Miniato, where it joins the Francigena Way.

Piccola Cassia Way

Stages in Emilia-Romagna: 9
Length in Emilia-Romagna: 113 Km

La Piccola Cassia Way is an ancient road of Roman origin that continued northwards the most famous Via Cassia, crossing the mountains between Modena and Bologna. Its origins date back to the times of Roman conquest and expansion in the Po Valley with the consequent foundation of new colonies and the reorganization of the existing road system.
The itinerary of the Piccola Cassia Way, which is still unchanged, originates from the south gate of the of Modena city and continues along the ridge between the Panaro valley and the Samoggia valley in the direction of the villages of Zocca and Castel d’Aiano, where it enters the Reno Valley.
After the Apennines, the route descends into Tuscany and finally reaches Pistoia, where it joins the Via Cassia in the direction of Rome.

  • Brisighella Forest – Ph Dante’s Walk Association

  • Romea Strata Way – Codigoro Pomposa Abbey, Ph. Massimo Baraldi

  • St. Antony Way – Borgo Tossignano, Ph. St. Antony Way Association

  • Francigena Way – Cisa Pass, Ph. AEVF

  • The Way of The Gods – Ancient Roman Road, Ph. ArchivioAppenninoSlow

  • Along the ridge between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna: Cupolino Mount, Schaffaiolo Lake, Ancisa Pass, Ph. Matteo-Gualmini

  • Abbots Way – Bobbio Village, Ph. Alessandro Vecchi

  • Assisi Way – An ancient bridge near the village of Dovadola, Ph. Magico Alvis

The Way of the Gods

Stages in Emilia-Romagna: 3
Length in Emilia-Romagna: 67 Km

Traced originally around the VII-IV century A.C., the Way of the Gods owes its definitive accommodation to the work of Roman engineering.
With the fall of the Roman Empire, the road lost part of the original paving, reducing itself to a small path. With the advent of modern driveways, it definitively lost its function and its rediscovery was the work of a group of passionate hikers who in the 80s recovered the ancient route that owes its name to the evocative mountain toponyms met along the path such as Adone Mount, Venus Mount, and Juno Mount.
Today the Way of the Gods is an extraordinary equipped path that winds through the most evocative landscapes of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, connecting the cities of Bologna and Florence.
The Way of the Gods is usually accessible to non-experts and with a breakdown of medium difficulty.

Saint Anthony’s Walk

Stages in Emilia-Romagna: 15
Length in Emilia-Romagna: 258 Km

The St. Anthony’s Walk develops between Veneto, Emilia Romagna, and Tuscany along the routes that at the beginning of the twelfth century saw the presence of one of the most loved and venerated saints of all of Christendom, St. Anthony.
Starting from Camposampiero/Padova, the walking itinerary winds its way south for more than 400 km, entering the Emilia-Romagna Region through the ford on the Po River in Ferrara and reaching the Sanctuary of San Luca in Bologna.
The Route then passes through some small villages such as Dozza, the painted village also headquarters of the Regional Enoteca, before entering the Casentino Park, which was declared Unesco Natural reserve.
The path then leads to the Hermitage of Montepaolo, an important Antonian shrine in Emilia Romagna and the first Italian residence – 1221 and 1222 – of the Saint Antony, who lived here after meeting in Assisi San Francis.

Romea Germanica Way

Stages in Emilia-Romagna: 18
Length in Emilia-Romagna: 260 Km

The Romea Germanica Way was founded in the 13th century as a transcription of the abbot Albert of Stade which traveled this route in 1236 to reach the city of Rome. It represents from centuries one of the so-called “Peregrinationes Majiores” with which pilgrims, Kings, and Emperors of Northern Europe crossed, and still cross today, the continent to reach the holy city.
The route starts from Ausburg, where the schism of 1517 was defined, passing through Trento, the city of the Counter-Reformation, and Padua; it finally enters in Emilia Romagna to the height of the Ferrara and arrives in the Byzantine city of Ravenna.
Once arrived at the Apennine mountains, the route goes up to Bagno di Romagna and the Serra pass, from which it then descends towards Tuscany ending its path in Rome.

Dante’s Walk

Stages in Emilia-Romagna: 13
Length in Emilia-Romagna: 194 Km

The Dante’s Walk is a ring-route between the Romagna Region and the Casentino that traces the ideal route that Dante Alighieri made at the beginning of the twelfth century between the cities of Ravenna and Florence and whose layout develops away from the asphalt road and along ancient “crest” paths of Etruscan-Roman origin.
The Route has its starting point at Dante’s tomb in Ravenna and finishes at the Museo Casa di Dante in Florence, crossing along its path the places of Dante’s exile which the poet has also told in many steps of the Divine Comedy.

Assisi Way

Stages in Emilia-Romagna: 4
Length in Emilia-Romagna: 72 Km

The Assisi Way is the result of many centuries old small pilgrimage routes gathered together in a single great path that places the figures of St. Anthony and St. Francis at the center. A single great route that runs from Dovadola to Assisi and represents a real immersion in the historical naturalistic dimension of the Romagna Apennines.
The whole Assisi Way was conceived on points which are linked to the essence of the pilgrimage itself and to the presence of the two saints: the route pass-through well- known places as Assisi, La Verna (the sacred mountain of stigmata), Gubbio, and Montecasale along with other Franciscan centers of undoubted religious importance such as the hermitage of Casella, and the millennial hermitage of Camaldoli, founded by Saint Romualdo from Ravenna.
The way then crosses the Casentino Park, today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Saint Vicinio Way

Stages in Emilia-Romagna: 12
Length in Emilia-Romagna: 210 Km

The San Vicinio Way is one of the oldest historical Italian roads and develops on a circular route that stretches for almost 350 kilometers between the provinces of Forlì, Cesena, Arezzo and Rimini, overlapping the ancient Roman road system.
The route takes its name from San Vicinio, the first bishop of Sarsina, who was an important figure in the evangelization process of the Ravenna province and runs along the places of the Saint’s life.
The San Vicinio Way is inspired by the ancient axis of Rome-Arezzo-Ravenna and traces the most important natural environments of central and northern Italy as the Casentino Forest Park, allowing also to visit some of the great centers of Christian spirituality such as the Madonna del Monte in Cesena, the San Vicinio Basilica in Sarsina, the La Verna Sanctuary, the “Volto Santo” in Borgo San Sepolcro in Tuscany and the cultural and spiritual pole of the Hermitage of Camaldoli.

Saint Francis’s walk from Rimini to La Verna

Stages in Emilia-Romagna: 5
Length in Emilia-Romagna: 98 Km

Inaugurated in 2013 the St. Francis’s walk from Rimini to La Verna retraces some places visited by the Saint on his journey to Valmarecchia in 1213. Along the path rise a plenty of convents and sacred settlements, such as that of the Poor Clares and the Friars Minor in Sant’Agata Feltria and the convent of Sant’Igne, built in 1244 in the woods at the foot of the cliff of San Leo. As many routes in this area, the St. Francis walk recovers the ancient Italian road systems and rejoins La Verna Sanctuary in the direction of Rome.
In Emilia-Romagna, the Way crosses the beautiful Marecchia valley in the provinces of Rimini and Forlì-Cesena.


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  1. Mario Pampanin

    Leggo, nella sintetica presentazione della Via Francigena, che “In the Emilia Romagna stretch, the Francigena Way crosses some historic villages of great historical and spiritual value such as Bobbio and Berceto.
    The village of Bobbio, during the Middle Ages, was a place of extreme spiritual value; here, in fact, stood the Abbey of San Colombano, founded in 614 by the Irish monk Columbanus, which was one of the safe places that met along the road that led to Rome”.
    L’indicazione relativa a Bobbio andrebbe però collocata nella presentazione della Via degli Abati (The Abbots Way).
    Grazie per la cortese attenzione.

    1. Walter Manni

      Ciao Mario,
      innazitutto grazie per averci scritto.
      Avevamo inserito l’abitato di Bobbio come possibile borgo storico da visitale lungo il percorso, ma effettivamente potrebbe semrbare fuorviante.
      Abbiamo quindi corretto il testo secondo delle indicaizoni geografiche più precise, cose che riporteremo anche nella versione italiana.

      Grazie ancora dell’utile appunto
      Walter, Staff In Emilia Romagna

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