The Way of the Mother of God (Via Mater Dei) is the path dedicated to the Marian Shrines of the Bolognese Apennines.
It is a trail of around 157 km that includes 7 legs along hilltop ridges and connects the city of Bologna to 9 municipalities of the Bolognese Apennines: Pianoro, Monterenzio, Loiano, Monghidoro, San Benedetto Val di Sambro, Castiglione dei Pepoli, Camugnano, Grizzana Morandi, Vergato and the municipality of Firenzuola in Tuscany.
From the city, with its walls and medieval monuments, which are so famous in the world, you will be able slowly, step after step, by walking and sweating, to rediscover that natural contact with the earth, the wind, the sun, the rain which are the casual but essential elements of a real route. Step after step, on arrival at the last shrine, once you return to the city, whatever city you live in, everything will have a new appearance, because you will have a new outlook on things.
This itinerary is designed for those who want to experience the path without giving up on some comforts; we have, in fact, provided for the transport of luggage from one facility to the next, the accommodation will be in a holiday farm or hotel with bed and breakfast treatment, double or triple rooms with bathroom, but there are also some single rooms with bathroom
1st day/1st leg 20.4 km Differences in altitude +/- 734/705 m, approx. 7 hours:
Leg that is divided between the city and the hills, which starts in the centre of Bologna, in the picturesque area of the Quadrilateral, home to grocery stores, typical shops and bustling bars and taverns, opposite the Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Vita. Crossing the city centre, you arrive at the Portico of San Luca, the longest in the world, which protects the pilgrims who go up to theBasilicabearing the same name. The crossing of the Bolognese hillsidesbegins here made of gentle landscapes and a rich vegetation that accompany the hikers through various parks until the arrival at the first leg in Rastignano, where you will remain for the overnight stay.
2nd day/2nd leg 20.4 km Differences in altitude +/- 772/675 m, approx. 7.5 hours:
Rastignano – Zena Pianoro
Meeting in front of the Parish church of Rastignano, delivery of luggage to our representatives and continuation of the route. Leg focused on a reality with very little human presence, the Val di Zena, with beautiful views that strongly depend on the ancient presence of the sea in these areas. From the church of Rastignano you go up towards Monte Calvo, where the altar dedicated to the Mater Pacis (the Mother of Peace)is located, in a place with a beautiful 360° panorama, which allows you to admire a large part of the way, the Pliocene mountain spur and many areas where battles took place during the Second World War. From there you head towards the valley, following the footsteps of Fantini, a fundamental figure in the history of the Bolognese Apennines. Towards the end of the leg, you will pass through the charming abandoned village of Gorgognano and subsequent view of the place where a Pliocene Epoch whale was found, a place that is celebrated today by a sculpture depicting it. Accommodation in holiday farm.
3rd day/3rd leg 22.6 km Differences in altitude +/- 1355/849 m, approx. 8.5 hours:
Zena Pianoro – Loiano
Breakfast in the holiday farm Leg characterised by a great wealth of points of interest and beautiful views. From Zena you go up for a good stretch to head towards the Sanctuary of the Monte delle Formiche. Along the way you will pass near the ancient Castle of Zena, the Heir Tower (Torre dell’Erede) and the village of Tazzola, which houses the truly peculiar Museum of Botroids (botroids are particular forms of conglutinated sands to form puppet-like clusters), which is absolutely worth a visit. After the Sanctuary, there is a beautiful stretch of a very scenic ridge, followed by a descent and an ascent that lead to the small village of Castelnuovo di Bisano, which houses a small but fascinating church dedicated to St. John the Baptist. A little further on you cross the beautiful Archaeological and Naturalistic Area of Monte Bibele, to then get to Quinzano and from there take the final climb to Loiano. Hotel accommodation.
4th day/4th leg 25.4 km Differences in altitude +/- 1116/1091 m, approx. 9 hours:
Loiano – Madonna dei Fornelli
Breakfast at the hotel. A leg full of sanctuaries and points of interest, in which you begin to truly appreciate the Apennines landscape, between ridges, valleys, oak, beech and centuries-old chestnut forests. From Loiano we head towards theAstronomical Observatory, where it is worth wandering a bit among the various buildings and signposts. A descent leads towards Gragnano and its beautiful Church of Santa Maria Assunta (Saint Mary of the Assumption), to then arrive at Campeggio, passing through the hamlet of Sumbilla and going up the path of the Via Crucis towards Monte Calvario. Then it is the turn of the Sanctuary of Madonna dei Boschi, guarded with incredible passion by the friars, and shortly after in Monghidoro. From here begins the descent towards the river Savena valley, passing through Piamaggio, home to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Pompei and two small but very interesting museums, up to the lake of Castel dell’Alpi. A last short ascent leads to the arrival in Madonna dei Fornelli. Hotel accommodation.
5th day/5th leg 24.2 km Differences in altitude +/- 966/1080 m, approx. 9 hours:
Madonna dei Fornelli – Baragazza
Breakfast at the hotel. Leg of great charm, where small villages alternate with forests and open points with beautiful views of the Apennines, in particular Monte Cimone and Corno alle Scale. From Madonna dei Fornelli you head towards the characteristic village of Qualto, and then pass near Montefredente and then towards Ca’ de’ Santoni, finding the characteristic Church of Pian del Voglio on your right. You cross a beautiful forest of beech and fir trees to enter Tuscany and arrive inBruscoli, before descending along the course of the Biscione and then the Gambellato streams, to be crossed at a beautiful holiday farm. An evocative climb leads to the magical Sanctuary of Boccadirio, located near the stage arrival in Baragazza. Hotel accommodation.
6th day/6th leg 25.2 km Differences in altitude +/- 988/1124 m, approx. 9 hours:
Baragazza – Ripoli
Breakfast at the hotel. From Baragazza you set off in the direction of Castiglione dei Pepoli, skirting Poggio Castello and descending towards the charming Windmill of the Elves (Mulino degli Elfi). The ascent offers the passage to Ca’ di Landino, a place of great historical significance, linked to the construction of the Bologna-Florence direct railway. Once in Castiglione dei Pepoli, you take the panoramic ridge that leads to Monte Catarelto, a place as beautiful from a scenic point of view as it is historically important in relation to the Second World War. Lagaro, with its ancient history, and Ripoli, with the charming hamlet of Serrucce, prepare you for the grand finale at the Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Serra. Hotel accommodation.
7th day/7th leg 18.7 km Differences in altitude +/- 802/1117 m, approx. 7.5 hours:
Ripoli – Riola
Breakfast at the hotel. Grand finale, with an extremely pleasant stage and gratified by the beautiful views towards Montovolo and Monte Vigese, which gradually approach.
The first part runs alongside the Brasimone torrent and the many mills that used its waters in the past, and then climbs towards the Sanctuary of Montovolo, located in a unique place that also houses the Oratory of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria and a trail linked to the tragedy of the Salveminischool, in which a military plane crashed, killing 12 boys. The descent towards Riola di Vergato is full of hints, from the historic villages of the Sterpi and La Scola, perfectly preserved, to the Rocchetta Mattei, a truly unique castle of its kind. Upon arrival, the church designed by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta. From Riola return to Bologna by train.
For information on fees and minimum number of participants please contact us!
The fee includes accommodation in a holiday farm or hotel from the 1st night to the 6th night inclusive with bed and breakfast; luggage transport from one facility to another for all the legs; medical, baggage and cancellation insurance policy, Pilgrim Credential.
The fee does not include: Accommodation and luggage transport only for the first leg.
For all legs: lunches, dinners, food and drinks in general; tourist tax where applicable (to be paid directly on site); any transfers by public transport; transfer from/to the starting point; anything not expressly indicated under “the fee includes” section.