Emilia Romagna Slow | The Romea Nonantolana Way

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Emilia Romagna Slow | The Romea Nonantolana Way


Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

To discover the origins of the Romea Nonantolana Way, we have to go back to the 7th century. The northern part of the Italian peninsula was divided into the lands belonging to the Longobards and those conquered by the Byzantines. What with the hostilities between the two kingdoms, various sections of the two major routes to the rest of Italy (the Via Flaminia and Via Aemilia) were occupied by the enemy armies, which made north-south transport difficult.

Nonantolana

Italy in the 7th Century – Map

The Longobards, who are known to have been in the Modena area, needed safe communication routes away from the Byzantine outposts, prompting King Aistulf to have a rethink about the road network under their control in 749. The Benedictine monastery and hospice founded near Sestola and Fanano was a vital amenity for all Apennine wayfarers at the time.
A few years later, in 752, Aistulf’s brother Anselm founded another monastery in Nonantola, for religious and, above all, political and military reasons, namely to control the plains and to seal the Longobard kingdom’s borders by establishing an inviolable spiritual centre.
Nonantola and its monastery thus became the new hub of the communication network linking the monastery on the plain with its counterpart in the mountains. Over time, the road would be traversed by armies and royal courts, pilgrims and merchant caravans. It became known as the Romea Nonantolana Way.

When Nonantola lost importance as the neighboring cities of Modena and Bologna grew in influence, more than one power controlled the area. The Way fragmented and gradually began to decline.
The Romea Nonantolana Way is now part of the European Walks project, a European historical, cultural and tourist network. The Way runs from north-eastern Italy to Rome and has two limbs: the western route and the eastern route, on opposite sides of the River Panaro. Both leave from Nonantola and meet in Fanano before continuing towards the Apennines and on to Rome.


Hamlets along the Way

Nonantolana

The hamlet of Fanano – Pic by Comune di Fanano

One of the most evocative spiritual ways in Modena province, the Romea Nonantolana Way also runs through some of the loveliest little towns in the area. One such is Fanano, a village set in the High Modena Apennines Regional Park and renowned for its outdoor activities, from walking and mountain biking in the summer months to skiing and snowshoe trekking in winter.
Fanano is also a good base for tackling Mount Cimone, at 2,165 meters the highest peak in the northern Apennines.


Services and practical information

Nonantolana

The Nonantolana Way winds for 65 miles almost entirely through the valleys of the Modena area in Emilia-Romagna; its 6 stages are suitable for walkers, bikers or horse riders.
The official website of Italy’s historic walks describes the individual stages and the accommodation facilities and points of interest along the route.

Italian regions traversed: Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Lazio

The western route

Stage 1 | Nonantola – Modena (9.6 miles)
The first stage brings you from the monumental Abbey of Nonantola to Modena and its UNESCO-listed cathedral along quiet lanes and city-center cycleways.
Stage 2 | Modena – Castelvetro (12.7 miles)
The next stage runs along the cycle route created on the old Modena–Vignola rail track bed and the River Guerro cycleway through atmospheric landscapes draped with vineyards.
Stage 3 | Castelvetro – Coscogno (13 miles)
After the lovely town of Levizzano Rangone, the route clambers up the right bank of the River Guerro and scales Tre Croci mountain, an enchanting place with fabulous panoramic views, before continuing to the towns of Denzano and Ospitaletto.
Stage 4 | Coscogno – Pavullo nel Frignano (9.3 miles)
Near Pavullo nel Frignano, the monumental Montecuccolo castle is surrounded by a medieval hamlet and is home to a major art and natural-history museum.
Stage 5 | Pavullo nel Frignano – Fanano (11.5 miles)
This leg runs through the River Scoltenna valley, past the characteristic medieval town of Renno di Sopra with St John the Baptist’s church and then the town of Rocchetta Sandri.
Stage 6 | Fanano – Croce Arcana pass (8 miles)
The final stage follows the River Ospitale valley up to the historic Croce Arcana pass at an altitude of 1675 m. The Fanano to Ospitale stretch runs along ancient paths and mule tracks offering evocative glimpses of the river. Past Ospitale town, you gradually climb up to the high pastures with grand views over the valleys of Emilia and (after the pass) Tuscany.

The eastern route

Stage 1 | Nonantola – Spilamberto (13.4 miles)
The first leg takes you along dirt roads, streets and bike paths into the center of Spilamberto, home of the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena consortium.
Stage 2 | Spilamberto – Vignola (5 miles)
This stage follows a nature trail along the River Panaro to Vignola, a town known for its cherries. Its iconic castle is majestic and is one of the finest pieces of fortified architecture in the region.
Stage 3 | Vignola – Samone (12.4 miles)
Leg 3 runs through the heart of Sassi di Roccamalatina Park. It starts out along a nature trail by the River Panaro up to the town of Casona and then crosses the river, proceeding along narrow paths up to Trebbio church, passing the park’s landmark sandstone pinnacles, finishing in the settlement of Samone.
Stage 4 | Samone – Montese (11.5 miles)
The next stretch takes you to Montese via the peaks of the Riva mountains, the lovely little town of Montalbano, and along CAI trail numbers 400, 434 and 440.
Stage 5 | Montese – Fanano (14 miles)
The long and challenging fifth stage passes through the small towns of Maserno, Castelluccio, Rocca Corneta and Trignano en route to Fanano. The beautiful view stretching out from Mount Croce near Castelluccio repays all the effort, and the section from Rocca Corneta to Trignano with the River Dardagna on your right is sublime.
Stage 6 | Fanano – Croce Arcana pass (8 miles)
The final stage follows the River Ospitale valley up to the historic Croce Arcana pass at an altitude of 1675 m. The Fanano to Ospitale stretch runs along ancient paths and mule tracks offering evocative glimpses of the river. Past Ospitale town, you gradually climb up to the high pastures with grand views over the valleys of Emilia and (after the pass) Tuscany.

Length: Both the eastern and western routes are 64 miles long.
Difficulty: medium


Informations

www.camministorici.it/en
IAT Information and Tourist Office
Piazza Grande 14, Modena
+39 059.2032660 / info@visitmodena.it



For any info about [Slow Emilia Romagna] contact <m.valeri@aptservizi.com>

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Explorer and Adventurer: loves sailing the oceans, climbing the highest mountains and surfing on the waves of the web