Discovering the Natural Treasures of Modena and Bologna

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Imagine the surface of the moon. 

Now add a descent into caves worn into a karstic landscape

Here’s a world where exceptional geological phenomena are waiting for you to explore.

Get started on a voyage that will surprise you with the natural marvels of the Modena and Bologna area.

  • Length
    72 hours
  • Interests
    Nature & Outdoor
  • Target
  • First stop - Park del Frignano (also known as the Modenese Apennines Regional Park) Modena

    Get your nature adventure on the road at the Parco del Frignano (also known as the Modenese Apennines Regional Park).

    Established in 1988 to protect the animals and plants of the Frignano area, the reserve covers more than 37,000 acres and passes through the towns of Fanano, Sestola, Montecreto, Riolunato, Pievepelago, Fiumalbo, and Frassinoro.

    The Park encompasses the highest part of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine ridge, on which Monte Cimone (2,165 meters), the highest peak in Modena’s northern Apennines, reaches for the sky.

    The Park is an area of nature in all its richness and variety, ideal for hikes, birdwatching, and relaxation in a natural and uncontaminated environment.

  • Second stop - The Sassi di Roccamalatina Regional Park Guiglia

    Descending the hill, we find the Sassi di Roccamalatina Regional Park in Guiglia (Province of Modena), an area of great natural importance that safeguards 5,700 acres of softly rolling hills.

    What sets this park apart from others are the imposing rock spires and pyramids (the “Sassi”) that rise to as much as seventy meters above the gentle landscape. 

    The Sassi are truly nature’s sculpture gallery, formed by the elements: over time, softer rock eroded away, leaving the more resistant sandstone of the Sassi behind.

    Here you can take advantage of more than 100 kilometers of paths for hiking, horseback riding, or mountain biking. Twelve marked itineraries lead to breathtaking views.

  • Third stop - The Salse di Nirano Reserve in Fiorano Modenese Fiorano Modenese

    Next we move on to the Salse di Nirano Nature Reserve located near Fiorano Modenese (Province of Modena).

    The Reserve is known for a geological phenomenon known all over the world. Here, the methane that is present underground rises to the surface through cracks to create flows of salty mud (from which comes the name “salse”), that “erupt” from small mud “volcanoes.”

    Visitors to the Reserve find themselves in an unusual landscape, almost lunar in its aspect, that never fails to astonish.

  • Fourth stop - Gessi di Zola Predosa Zola Predosa

    On our fourth stop, we’ll shift our base of operations to the area around Bologna, where the park known as the Gessi di Monte Rocca, Monte Capra and Tizzano Park is located. It’s the latest of the Bologna-area reserves to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    An extreme western offshoot of the Gessi Bolognese, the chalky hills beyond the Reno River, the park comprises two areas: the larger and more western one runs from Monte Rocca to Monte Malgotto and includes the so-called Gessi di Zola, while the smaller and more easterly one covers the area from the village of Eremo di Tizzano to the Rio Pozzarone River below.

    The Michele Gortani Grotto is one of the Park’s most important formations and extends for more than two kilometers.

  • Fifth stop - The Vena del Gesso Romagnola Park Imola

    Where Romagna meets Bologna, in the area around Imola, stands the Vena del Gesso Romagnola Park, located along the spine of the Apennines. Because of its “Evaporitic Karst and Caves of Northern Apennines,” as they are officially described, the area was recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    The Park is between the towns of Imola and Faenza and is easy to visit, thanks to the trails maintained by the Italian Alpine Club, including the Alta Via dei Parchi

    Some of these paths are accessible on horseback or by mountain bike as well.

    A variety of Nordic Walking trails also cross the park, and the Re Tiberio and the Tanaccia Caves are open to visitors during most of the year.

  • Sixth stop - The Gessi Bolognesi and Calanchi dell’Abbadessa Park Bologna

    Our last destination is the Gessi Bolognesi and Calanchi dell’Abbadessa Park.

    Also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is Emilia-Romagna’s largest karst park. The landscape is made of dales, plateaus, valleys, and rocky cliffs, and plantations of grapes and olives are found against the gentler slopes. Here and there, farmhouses, elegant villas, and historic palazzos appear, surrounded by pine and cypress trees.

    The Spipola and Farneto caves are the best for visits, and numerous routes exist for cycling tourists, mountain bikers, and hikers.

Last update 26/01/2024

Information offices

Modena Tourist Information Office
Piazza Grande, 14 - Modena (MO)
+ 39 0592032660 + 39 059 2032659 Opening: all year round
Pro Loco Guiglia
Via Roma, 16 - Guiglia (MO)
+ 39 334 2356329 Opening: all year round
IAT Maranello
Via Dino Ferrari, 43 - Maranello (MO)
+ 39 0536 073036 Opening: all year round
IAT Informazione Accoglienza Turistica Imola
Via Emilia, 135 - Imola (BO)
+ 39 0542 602 207 + 39 0542 602207
IAT Bologna Welcome
Piazza Maggiore, 1/E - Bologna (BO)
+ 39 051 6583111

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