Pick up your rucksack and head out for a day in nature, making a few stops along the way before reaching your final destination. Hiking itineraries in Emilia-Romagna are great for healthy outdoor fun in groups or alone.
The region’s parks offer a vast network of trails for all types of hikers, experienced and otherwise. Detailed information about them is available at visitor centres.
Here below are the main hiking routes and the nature parks where you can find them.
Alta Via dei Parchi Ridgeway
Covering 500 km, the Alta Via dei Parchi is the longest hiking trail in the Emilia-Romagna Apennines. Starting from Berceto (Parma) and arriving at Carpegna (Pesaro-Urbino), the trail’s 27 legs pass through three regions, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Marche.
The eight parks that the Alta Via traverses are: two national parks, the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines National Park and the Casentinesi, Monte Falterona and Campigna Forest National Park; five regional parks, the High Modenese Apennines Regional Park, the Hundred Lakes Regional Park, the Corno alle Scale Regional Park, the Suviana and Brasimone Lakes Regional Park, and the Vena del Gesso Romagnola Regional Park; and last but not least, the cross-regional Sasso Simone and Simoncello cross-regional Park.
Given the length of the trail, you’ll pass through a variety of breathtaking scenery, such as vibrant forests, volcanic cliffs, mountain lakes, glacial cirques, crystalline streams and chalky crags. You can hike the perfectly marked single legs of the trail with routes of varying durations based on your level of experience.
The Pilgrims’ Routes
The map of the Pilgrims’ Routes in Emilia-Romagna is a collection of routes used by religious pilgrims in the Middle Ages on their way to sacred destinations like Rome and Assisi, or to reach Jerusalem and the Holy Land by sea.
Emilia-Romagna has always been a passageway, which is why it is crossed by 14 roads still usable today by visitors following spiritual paths or simply hiking and exploring the rich history of the region.
The well-mapped and signposted routes include:
- the Via Francigena (143 km of trails in Emilia-Romagna) − meaning “French” because it was used by pilgrims coming from the “Land of the Francs” − connects Canterbury to Rome;
- the Via degli Dei [Road of the Gods] (67 km in Emilia-Romagna) is an ancient road used by the Etruscans and the Romans. It connects Bologna to Florence crossing the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. The road has five legs and is suitable for all experience levels and guarantees spectacular panoramas;
- the Via della Lana e della Seta (69 km in Emilia Romagna) connects Bologna and Prato, two cities bonded by their productive history and enables you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine.
- the Via Romea Germanica (260 km in Emilia-Romagna) connects Augsburg, Germany, to Rome by moving down across the Po Valley, crossing Ferrara and Ravenna and cutting through the Casentinesi Forest National Park;
- the Via Romea Nonantolana (207 km in Emilia-Romagna), Lombard in origin, begins at the Nonantola Abbey not far from Modena. It splits into two routes that converge in Tuscany with the Via Francigena and it ends in Rome;
- the Via Romea Strata Longobarda (186 km in Emilia-Romagna) also reaches Rome. Its Emilia-Romagna leg merges with the Via Romea Nonantolana;
- the Via degli Abati [the abbots’ Road] (127 km in Emilia-Romagna) connects Pavia to Pontremoli, passing through the village of Bobbio;
- the Way of Saint Anthony (258 km in Emilia-Romagna) travels through places touched by the saint. It goes from Padua through Ferrara, Bologna and the Sanctuary of Saint Luke, finally reaching the Casentinesi Forest National Park;
- the Assisi Way (72 km in Emilia-Romagna), centred around Saint Anthony and Saint Francis of Assisi. It goes from Dovadola (Forlì-Cesena) to Assisi;
- the Way of Saint Vicinius (210 km in Emilia-Romagna) winds through the provinces of Forlì-Cesena, Arezzo and Rimini, passing places from the life of Saint Vicinius;
- the Way of Saint Francis (98 km in Emilia-Romagna) passes some of the places visited by Saint Francis during his trip in Valmarecchia crossing the provinces of Forlì-Cesena and Rimini in 1213;
- the Via Matildica del Volto Santo (140 km in Emilia-Romagna) runs from Mantua to Lucca and passes the towns and castles in the land of Matilde di Canossa;
- the Little Cassia (113 km in Emilia-Romagna) goes from Modena to Pistoia;
- the Via di Linari (110 km in Emilia-Romagna) is an alternative to the Via Francigena to reach Rome. From Fidenza to Tuscany, it passes through the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines UNESCO Biosphere Reserve;
- the Viae Misercordiae (225 km in Emilia-Romagna), a mainly flat route that takes you from the Pomposa Abbey to the Hermitage of Gamogna.
In addition to these routes, there’s Dante’s Walk (194 km in Emilia-Romagna) connecting Ravenna and Florence. It’s inspired by the journey that the poet Dante Alighieri ideally would have made to reach Ravenna at the beginning of the 12th century.