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The Path of the Gods: Bologna to Florence

The Path of the Gods: Walk from Bologna to Florence

Overview

Explore the beautiful provinces of Emilia Romagna and Tuscany on foot, following The Path of Gods (Via degli Dei) – an ancient 135 km-long route connecting Bologna to Florence through the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. The path takes you off the beaten track and away from the big cities; it is named after the five mountains it takes in, each of them named after a Roman god or goddess. Monte Adone (Adonis) is the highest one with amazing views over the Bologna Hills.

You will be following in the footsteps of ancient Romans as the trail retraces parts of the historic Flaminia Military Roman Road. It joined the town of Felsina (the Etruscan name of Bologna) to Faesulae, the Original town of Florence. In Roman times the route was paved with large flagstones, still visible today, that you will walk on.

The area offers surprisingly great biodiversity: the Reno River valley is dominated by Pliocene spurs and a series of rocky sandstone crags. Higher up, huge beechwoods shade your way as you gently ascend to the Piana del Mugello. Small medieval villages and solitary farmhouses dot the hills. You’ll walk on or near the top of the ridges enjoying amazing views, as well as through shady forests and on idyllic country roads. The highlights also include Bologna, Italy’s gastronomic capital in Emilia Romagna and Florence, the world’s greatest art city, in Tuscany.

Highlights

  • Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance
  • Bologna, the capital of Emilia-Romagna
  • Walking on an ancient Roman paved road in the heart of the Apennines forest
  • Small medieval villages and solitary farmhouses

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bologna

Individual arrival in Bologna, a city with many attractions. Spend the day exploring Bologna – be sure to visit the unfinished 14th-century basilica, the ancient university (the oldest in Europe, and reportedly in the world),  the excellent art museums, and the Asinelli Tower, which offers marvellous views over the city, and of course taste some tagliatelle al ragù. Do not miss the view of the illuminated Piazza Maggiore or the Piazza Grande.

Day 2: Bologna to Sasso Marconi | 20 km

From Piazza Maggiore, the heart of the city, you will walk to the Portico di San Luca, built in 1674: this is the longest covered street in the world, 4 km dominated by 666 arches reaching as far as the basilica of San Luca, from where you will be able to enjoy the splendid view. The journey continues towards Parco Talon, where the Casalecchio lock-gate has been managing the flow of waters of the Reno to the city of Bologna for 800 years. From the top of the hill, you will see the village of Sasso Marconi, named in honour of the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of the radio, who was born here.

  • Walking for the day: approx. 6 hours, 20 km, ­↑­­­­520 m ↓505 m
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Sasso Marconi (Hotel Cà Vecchia or similar)

Day 3: Sasso Marconi to Monzuno | 16 km

A short private transfer will take you to Badolo. From Badolo, you start walking uphill towards Monte Adone. The highlight of this leg of the journey is the Contrafforte Pliocenico, the rocky bastion which rose from the shallow sea during the Pliocene age (2-4 million years ago). Along some sections of the route, you will walk on sand, climbing to the edge of the abyss along a spectacular path that climbs up to the top of Mount Adone, with its characteristic stone towers. From here, you will continue towards Monzuno, where we recommend that you visit Zivieri’s charcuterie shop, the temple of local food and wine, thanks to the Slow Food movement.

  • Walking for the day: approx. 5 hours, 16 km, ­↑­­­­700 m ↓500 m
  • Accommodation: B&B in Monzuno (Albergo Montevenere or similar)

Day 4: Monzuno to Bruscoli | 19 km

On this section of the route, you will come across the first Roman paving stones of the Flaminia Militare, the ancient Roman road that used to link Bologna to Arezzo. At Pian di Balestra you will cross the border with Tuscany. Reach Bruscoli, where you will spend the night in a charming agriturismo on the hill.

  • Walking for the day: approx. 6 hours, 19 km, ­↑­­­­500 m ↓400 m
  • Accommodation: Agriturismo in Bruscoli (Agriturismo Il Passeggere or similar)

Day 5: Bruscoli to San Piero a Sieve | 21-28 km

You will come to Passo della Futa which was held by the German army in World War II; we recommend a visit to the military cemetery, a moving war monument. The highest peak of the leg is Monte Gazzaro, with its white cross from which you will be able to admire a splendid view of the Firenzuola valley and Mugello. A wide downhill path will bring you to Sant’Agata, a typical Tuscan village. We recommend that you stop to visit the unusual Museo del Leprino. Optionally there you take the bus to shorten the walk (not included). When dining at San Piero to Sieve, try the typical Ramerino bread.

  • Walking for the day: approx. 8 hours, 28 km, ­↑­­­­460 m ↓1140 m (with optional bus transfer: 6 hours, 21 km)
  • Accommodation: B&B in San Piero a Sieve (La Pieve B&B or similar)

Day 6: San Piero a Sieve to Olmo | 20 km

After leaving San Piero, you will continue towards the Castello del Trebbio, one of the residences of the Medici family, now a private property. It offers exceptional views of the Mugello valley and Lake Bilancino. The route continues through olive groves as far as Tagliaferro and then climbs up to the Badia di Bonsollazzo. After a while, you will arrive at the Monastero di Monte Scenario, founded by seven saints belonging to the order of the Servants of Mary.

  • Walking for the day: approx. 7 hours, 20 km, ­↑­­­­1020 m ↓800 m
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Olmo (Hotel Dino or similar)

Day 7: Olmo to Florence | 10.5 km

Today’s walk is relatively short and you will have the rest of the day for exploring the numerous sites of the capital city of the Renaissance.  You will go through Vetta le Croci. Then you will tackle the last climb up to Il Pratone, before descending towards Fiesole, an Etruscan town built on a terrace overlooking the city of Florence. Here you will be able to admire the large archaeological area of the town and the San Romolo Cathedral. Finally, you will arrive in Florence, where you will be able to celebrate with a fine Florentine steak. We strongly recommend that you book an extra night in Florence after the holiday in order to have time to explore this beautiful city.

  • Walking for the day: approx. 4 hours, 10.5 km, ­↑­­­­381 m ↓529 m
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Florence (Hotel Bonifacio or similar)

Day 8: Departure

Departure on your own or extension upon request.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in a mix of characterful B&Bs, agriturismi* and 3-star hotels, all with en-suite facilities and a good Italian breakfast included each morning. All places have been carefully hand-picked by us and their quality is regularly monitored. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Click to view default hotels

*What is an agriturismo? A combination of the words for “agriculture” and “tourism” in Italian — It is a farm-stay, but it’s also much, much more. Typically, an agriturismo is an independently-owned farm that the owners have decided to use partially for accommodation purposes, in a way similar to English or American bed and breakfasts. One of the best parts of staying in a traditional agriturismo? The food. An Italian agriturismo will usually serve guests food that was prepared from raw materials – vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat, and often wine and olive oil – produced on the farm or from other local merchants.

Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

The trip is on a bed and breakfast basis as throughout the trip there are plenty of opportunities for you to taste both the outstanding local cuisine and a wide range of fine regional wines. Dinner is available either from the restaurant in your accommodation or the restaurants in the town where you stay for overnight.

Difficulty & terrain

The route is quite challenging due to the elevation differences. No technical skills are required, but a good level of fitness is needed for enjoying the walks to the maximum (read more about difficulty grades). The whole itinerary is mostly on paths and gravel roads (strade bianche), even if you will find some sections on asphalted road. Some walks are quite long but can be shortened by using public transport or booking a private transfer in advance. The whole itinerary is well marked by the Official signs of the Via Degli Dei (white-red markings). We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

You can start your holiday every day between the beginning of April and the end of October. Spring and autumn months are a preferred travel period if you want to avoid the summer heat of July and August. In September – October, you will enjoy pleasant temperatures and might also be able to catch the regional wine harvest.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended arrival airports for this holiday are Florence and Bologna. Other Italian airports are also well connected to the area.

By train or bus

From Florence Airport, take a taxi or the public “Vola in bus” to Florence Santa Maria Novella Train Station (see http://www.aeroporto.firenze.it/it/i-passeggeri/trasporti/bus.html). There are several daily direct trains from Florence to Bologna. The ride can take from 30 to 1 hour 40 minutes depending on the train you take. Price varies from about Euro 9,35 to 30 Euros per person one way, depending on the train you take.

From Bologna Airport, take the BLQ shuttle service to Bologna centre http://aerobus.bo.it/en

Check the up-to-date train timetables on www.trenitalia.com or use the Omio planner above.

Inclusions

Included

  • 7 nights in selected B&Bs, agriturismo and 3-star hotels
  • 7 breakfasts
  • Luggage transfers on all walking days
  • Private transfer Sasso Marconi-Badolo on Day 3
  • Holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route notes and maps (digital copy sent by email and a hard copy delivered at first hotel)
  • 24/7 telephone support

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches and dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘Included’ in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • Supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room / single use of a double room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights are available on request

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