On a trip to Castel d'Aiano among caves, churches and medieval towers

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Located in the hills of Bologna, the picturesque town of Castel d'Aiano is the highest municipality of the metropolitan area of Bologna.

A border land and point of conflict, this area has always been the subject of wars and struggles for territory control.

In the Middle Ages its ancient fortress was disputed for centuries (until its complete destruction) by the Bolognesi and Modenesi, who, in the Medieval commune age, climbed up the opposite sides of the Apennines armed and ready to fight for supremacy.

Centuries later, in the twentieth century, the territory was again the protagonist of new battles. In fact, here passed the Gothic Line, the dramatic setting of heroism and opposition between the Allies and the Nazi-Fascist troops.

Today, the territory of Castel d'Aiano is an ideal tourist destination: a perfect synthesis of centuries of history, ideal for those looking for a quiet refuge away from the daily frenzy, in close contact with culture, nature and gastronomy.

  • Length
    24 hours
  • Interests
    Art & Culture
  • Target
  • First stop - The multimedia model of the Gothic Line Castel d'Aiano

    Considered unique in its kind, the multimedia model of The Gothic Line is housed in the Sala Civica Polivalente of via Val d'Aneva.

    Made on a scale of 1:50.000, it is an extraordinary historical-didactic tool, 5 x 2 meters in size, which chronologically traces the events that occurred between August 1944 and April 1945 on that tragic front of war between Florence and Bologna and from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Adriatic.

    The model is accompanied by an hour long animated narration, all made possible thanks to a synchronized electronic system of lights, music, sounds and projections of vintage images and films.

    Thanks to the guided tours, the story continues "on the field" along the paths in the mountains, where the signs of the fortified line are still evident.

  • Second stop - The Labante Caves Castel d'Aiano

    Defined as the main example of travertine in Italy (and probably also in Europe), the Labante Caves, classified as a Site of Community Importance (SIC), are the result of a fascinating karst phenomenon that sees the formation of a particular travertine called "Sponga".

    On the summit of the largest cavity we can see a high waterfall between moss and lush plants that flows into a small and clear pond, while in the small one (called Cave of the Germans) there are spectacular stalactites. There is a third cave, smaller, but not open to visitors.

    The travertine of these caves was used for construction purposes already by the Etruscans of the city of Kainua and in more recent times for the construction of the sanctuary of Brasa.

  • Third stop - The church of Santa Maria e Santo Stefano di Labante Castel d'Aiano

    Near the Grotte di Labante there is the charming church of San Cristoforo which is certainly worth a visit.

    Of major architectural interest for its baroque forms, there is also, a few kilometers away, the ancient and most famous Church of Santa Maria and Santo Stefano di Labante with the characteristic tripartite facade.

    Its foundation dates back to the twelfth or thirteenth century on a previous building, probably Benedictine, and then in the seventeenth century it eas rebuilt from its foundations up. 

    The interior is suggestive, with a barrel-vaulted hall and five irregular bays with four side chapels interspersed with niches.

  • Fourth stop - Rocca di Roffeno and the church of San Martino Castel d'Aiano

    On the border with the town of Vergato, the town of Rocca di Roffeno stands out for its peculiarity.

    This small town, made up of small houses scattered in the green woods, is rich in architectural traces of rare beauty.

    In the territory you can see several tower-houses, ancient and imposing stone and brick mansions, a symbol of power and control.

    The most famous are certainly the “Poggiolo e Civetta” and the “Monzone”, three important examples of 16th century architecture. However, of particular note is the latter, probably built where once the castle of Roffeno was.

    Here stayed, for several summers in the mid-1930s, the painter Giorgio Morandi, painting various works that draw inspiration from the surrounding landscape.

    The town of Roffeno also offers other interesting architectural points of interest. These include the parish church of San Martino di Tours, built in 1340 on the remains of a previous building dedicated to Holy Mary, and then in the eighteenth century heavily renovated.

    Inside are kept the oldest wooden tabernacle of the entire archdiocese of Bologna, dated from its inscription to 1486, as well as several important frescoes of the Romanesque period.

    Finally, the Abbey of Saint Lucy: an ancient Benedictine monastery founded in the middle of the 11th century by the local community, and donated, in 1110, to the Abbey of Saint Sylvester of Nonantola, of which little remains today, such as part of the small church restored in the 1950s.

Last update 30/01/2024

Information offices

Pro Loco Castel d'Aiano
Via Lenzi, 14 - Castel d'Aiano (BO)
+ 39 329 9614533     prolococasteldaiano@gmail.com Opening: all year round

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