Bolognese Gypsum and the Abbadessa Badlands Park

On the slopes of the foothills of Bologna, one of the most important karst areas in Europe

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Leaving Bologna and travelling in a south-east direction, we encounter the Bolognese Gypsum and the Abbadessa Badlands Regional Park, famous for its over 150 caves, which are one of the largest and most spectacular gypsum cave systems in Europe. A unique feature that has earned the Gessi Bolognesi the title of Unesco World Heritage Site, assigned in 2023 to this and six other sites in the Emilia-Romagna Apennines.

The roads and paths that cross the area show dramatic and unexpectedly beautiful scenery: rocky bluffs overlook hollows that look like natural amphitheatres; apparently inaccessible corners show entrances to caves; rugged ridge gullies (like those at the badlands of the Abbadessa Pass) abruptly interrupt gentle clay slopes. 

The many natural formations are overlapped with signs of the work of man, with the remains of isolated ancient castles, parish churches and medieval villages, which are scattered throughout the area.

The environment and scenery

As you wander through the park, you will encounter a mosaic of different habitats: arid and sunny outcrops, deciduous woodlands and cool, shady valleys. Among the spectacular eroded formations and caves, many plant and animal species of considerable scientific interest find refuge.

What can you do there?

Immersed in the reassuring silence of the hills, you can walk one of the many medium-difficulty paths that cross the entire area and get a better understanding of the different seasonal nuances. Among these, the most well-beaten track is certainly the one that leads to the Spipola Doline and Grotta, an area explored by scholars and enthusiasts, which has revealed many fossil finds over the years, which are visible today inside the “Luigi Donini” Museum of Prehistory.


Last update 16/11/2023

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