Since time immemorial, a place of meeting, transit and trade, Emilia-Romagna is criss-crossed by numerous religious trails and trade routes that today, just like in the past, lead pilgrims to Christianity’s sacred places.
In Italy, pilgrim routes were grafted onto the ancient roads, used by the faithful who lived beyond the Alps, since before the Middle Ages, to reach Rome or the coasts of Puglia, from which they embarked for the Holy Land.
Because of its geographical layout, Emilia-Romagna was a must-visit destination for pilgrims at that time and is still an important transit region today for those who want to retrace these trails in their entirety, but also a good testing ground for those who prefer to try their hand at shorter routes.
The region is traversed by 18 spiritual paths, which are entirely mapped and mostly marked with signs, accessible on foot or, in some cases, even by bike. These 18 routes, of which 12 included in the Digital Atlas of the Italian Paths of MIBACT, tell the historical and cultural story of the country, and include the Via Francigena, Via degli Dei, Via Romea Germanica, Via Romea Nonantolana, Via Romea Strata Longobarda, Via degli Abati, the Cammino of Saint Anthony, the Cammino of Assisi, the Cammino of San Vicinio, the Cammino of Saint Francis, the Via Matildica del Volto Santo, the Piccola Cassia, Via di Linari, the Viae Misercordiae, Via della Lana e della Seta, Via Romea Germanica Imperiale, the Cammino of Dante and the Alta Via dei Parchi.
As with their history, the paths also differ according to the difficulty and length of the route within the borders of the region. This ranges from the 260-km-long route of the Via Romea Germanica, which starts out from Augsburg in Germany and goes all the way to Rome, travelling through Ferrara, Ravenna and the Casentinesi Forests, to the 67-km route followed by the Via degli Dei, the trail that leads from Bologna to Florence through the Apennines.
Cutting through lush landscapes and imposing mountains, the network of trails – in addition to offering visitors the opportunity to get in touch with their spirituality or spend time with themselves – allows you to admire the natural wonders of the Emilia-Romagna Apennines and Po River valley.
Along the trails in Emilia-Romagna, you will also find sites of historical and artistic interest, such as ancient parish churches, important centres of prayer and monastic life (such as the Hospice of San Pellegrino in Alpe in the province of Reggio Emilia), abbeys and basilicas (such as Pomposa Abbey near Ferrara and Sant’Apollinare in Classe in Ravenna, as well as the Sanctuary of St. Luke in Bologna) or archaeological sites and medieval villages (like Bobbio in the Piacenza area).
Enchanting places, which guarantee the journey made by pilgrims and hikers is even more vivid and memorable.