Three great hiking trails for those who love experiencing nature and discovering new landscapes.
When visiting the Santerno Valley, Imola is the perfect base.
As you move towards Tuscany, the urban landscape gives way to nature and, following the river upwards, you come to the Parco Regionale della Vena del Gesso Romagnola.
The Luca Ghini trail is a 7 km hiking route that offers stunning views from the lunar-like ridges known as the calanchi.
The trail takes you from the old centre of Casalfiumanese, in Parco di Villa Manusardi, to the site of Luca Ghini’s birthplace and home. Ghini, a pioneering botanist, founded the world’s first university botanical garden. This is a clearly signed CAI (Club Alpino Italiano) trail (follow sign marked SLG); the CAI Imola website provides all the info you need for this route.
CAI trail 705 takes you into the Parco Regionale della Vena del Gesso Romagnola (Vena del Gesso Romagnola Regional Park). In 2022 the park became an official UNESCO World Heritage Site candidate.
Here, the crystalline gypsum actually sparkles beneath your feet as it reflects and refracts sunlight. At the park’s heart lies the imposing ridge of the Riva di San Biagio.
The loop starts and ends in Borgo Tossignano, the western gateway to the Vena del Gesso Park. This small town is actually made up of two settlements: Borgo, in the valley, and Tossignano, perched on the gypsum crags.
About 14 km long with a total vertical climb of 750 m, this is a hike to be enjoyed over a full day. The best time to do the CAI 705 trail is undoubtedly spring, when the first blooms colour the landscape with renewed life.
Further up the Santerno Valley you come to Castel del Rio. Nearby, on the border between Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany, lies another trail much appreciated by locals: CAI trail 717. Surrounded by the typical vegetation of the Tuscan-Romagna Apennines, this suggestive path reaches into secret, almost-forgotten corners, such as the abandoned village of Castiglioncello.
The first section takes you past the famous Moraduccio waterfall, the perfect place to seek shade in the summer or cool off with a dip in the waters of the Santerno.
After reaching Castiglioncello the trail then climbs steeply along a slightly exposed ridge, taking you to Negheredole and its picturesque chestnut grove.