Ciclovia del Navile

Cycling in the Bologna plain along the ancient Navile canal

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The Ciclovia del Navile pedestrian and cycle path is a 35-kilometre itinerary suitable for everyone, combining history, industrial archaeology and nature. 

It runs along the Navile canal from the gates of Bologna to Bentivoglio, crossing the Bolognese plain and its territory featuring numerous examples of industrial archaeology.

The Navile played a very important role within the network of canals that once criss-crossed Bologna (and flow still today mostly underground). Once navigable, this waterway originated from the Cavaticcio Canal in the ancient port of Bologna, and then headed north before flowing into the Reno River. A flourishing transport of goods took place between the city and its plains along the Navile, all the way to the Adriatic Sea.

A special feature of the Navile canal are the sluices, called sostegni, which were built to overcome differences in ground level and allow navigation. Although no longer in use, the sostegni are still visible today along the route of the cycle path.

The points of interest along the route include the Museo del Patrimonio Industriale (Industrial Heritage Museum), built inside a former furnace, which preserves the history of Bologna's economic and commercial heritage since the modern age. Taking a short diversions from the finishing point of the cycle route, the pretty town of Bentivoglio, you can also take the chance to visit the Museo della Civiltà Contadina (Museum of Rural Civilisation) as well as the Oasi La Rizza, a protected area created from the former rice paddy field of Bentivoglio and now a nesting area for the white stork.

The route

The Ciclovia del Navile winds along a flat route made up of dirt roads, paths and short stretches on asphalt that make it suitable even for less experienced cyclists. The itinerary can be covered in about two and a half to three hours of leisurely pedalling, the ideal pace for appreciating the beauty of the Bologna area.

Where is the starting point of the cycle route? The first stop is Sostegno della Bova, located just outside the centre of Bologna, where the Navile Canal was created back in 1221. This is the first sluice you come across along the route, followed by the Battiferro, which once housed a workshop dedicated to metalworking. Right here we find the aforementioned Museum of Industrial Heritage, as well as a hydroelectric power station dating back to the early 20th century.

The route continues to the Sostegno del Torreggiani which was built by the famous architect Vignola in the 16th century like the following Sostegno del Landi. Cycling past the Grassi sluice you can reach the Ponte della Bionda bridge and finally Sostegno di Corticella, which was the site of Bologna's first port, featuring an ancient bridge and the Palazzo della Dogana building, once used to control goods and passengers.

The last section of the cycle route passes through the Bentivoglio area, home to a fascinating 15th-century castle, and finally heads through the green Bolognese countryside along the Navile river to the village of Malalbergo.

Download the GPX track at: 

Ciclovia del Navile GPX

More information on official website (only in italian)

Last update 22/10/2023

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