Via dei Linari was born as an ancient detour of Via Francigena, it takes its name from the Abbey located on the border ridge between Emilia and Tuscany.
Historically an alternative commercial and pilgrimage route to reach Rome and Lucca, today it is a path rich in nature, art and fine food and wine.
Via dei Linari is a moderately difficult path that crosses places of great naturalistic importance, such as the Unesco Biosphere Reserve of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, and places of long food production tradition, such as Langhirano, the land of Parma Ham, a stone's throw from the romantic Torrechiara Castle, keeper of the love story between Pier Maria Rossi and his beloved Bianca Pellegrini.
We start from Fidenza where the route deviates from Via Francigena towards Parma.
In Fidenza the splendid Romanesque cathedral, dedicated to San Donnino, prepares pilgrims for the journey through the narratives of its high relief antelamic sculptures.
Parma, UNESCO creative City for Gastronomy, welcomes travellers coming from the west along Via Emilia in the Church of Santa Croce, which still preserves interesting Romanesque capitals and traces of an ancient past.
The religious centre of the city is Piazza Duomo with the Cathedral, the Baptistery and the Bishop's Palace.
The route continues towards Lagastrello along the valley of the Parma stream until we reach the impressive Torrechiara Castle, which dominates the landscape from the top of a hill.
Here we stop to immerse ourselves in a medieval atmosphere and taste the excellent Colli di Parma PDO wines.
In Torrechiara the flat route ends and the climb towards the Apennines begins.
In Langhirano a stop at Parma Ham Museum is a must, before continuing on to Badia Cavana (or Abbazia di San Basilide), a Romanesque abbey built in the 12th century at the behest of Bernardo degli Uberti.
Pieve di San Pietro in Tizzano Val Parma also marks the stages of this route, that begins the ascent of Val d'Enza in the Valli dei Cavalieri, passing through Ranzano, Palanzano and Rigoso. These are also places of great naturalistic importance, part of the Unesco Biosphere Reserve of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines.
Finally you reach the Linari Abbey, of which today you can see only a few remains, surrounded by the charm of the place that controlled this important communication and trade route for centuries.