From Bologna to Florence by foot
A trekking known but not famous, much less mainstream and crowded than the famous route of Santiago or the Via Francigena, but no less spectacular: I'm talking about the Via Degli Dei , which I traveled to early summer in 2017, in a somewhat particular way.
The Km are about 130 , and I have decided to cover them without haste in a week, enjoying the wonderful views it offers and carrying food and tent on my shoulders. I camped illegally for three nights in the meadows and then I took advantage of the campsites I found along the way.
my backpack was uncomfortable and heavy (about twenty Kg, far too much to walk in ease in the sun, especially for an untrained like me), but it was the only one I owned at the time. I bought a one-way ticket to Bologna, and then one for the return from Florence a week later. Once back home I was dirty, sweaty and even a little tipsy ... but also very happy!
The most trained can do it in 4/5 days. The fools who take part in the Ultra-Trail race take it in less than 20 hours (I crossed them in the last stretch, impressive). As I said, I took it easy, given my heavy load on my shoulders, to enjoy these places as much as possible. My advice is just to live it this way, admiring the surrounding landscape and perhaps making acquaintance with the few other walkers who cross the path. These were my steps:
|City||Distance (km)||Where I slept|
|Bologna (stazione centrale) - Sasso Marconi||21||abusive on the banks of the river Reno|
|Sasso Marconi - Monzuno||22||abusive in a small park|
|Monzuno - Madonna dei Fornelli||12||abusive in a meadow|
|Madonna dei Fornelli - Passo della Futa||17,5||camping La Futa|
|Passo della Futa - San Piero a Sieve||21||camping Mugello Verde|
|San Piero a Sieve - Firenze (stazione Santa Maria Novella)||26||train back home|
Adding the Km the total is about 120 km, but I assure you that between mistakes of the route, detours and various visits the actual distance that I covered was at least 130 km
Best places (in my opinion)
There are so many views and locations that deserve the effort done, but if I had to say which are the places I preferred I choose:
- Bologna. Beautiful city, I took the opportunity to take a ride downtown just arrived and get a beer in one of the many bars with outdoor tables. Do not miss the Basilica of San Luca , which is located right on the path. The arcade that you will follow to get there is the longest in the world!
- Monte Adone . A breathtaking view, a scenario that deserves the effort made due to the difference in height. At the top, in a wooden box, I also found a diary for travelers and patches left there in an emergency.
- Monte Gazzaro . It feels totally immersed in nature and the path is a pleasant ups and downs.
- Futa Pass . In the beautiful forest you can see well-preserved pieces of the Flaminia Militare , with lots of signs explaining their history, in some places. The Germanic military cemetery is very special, with the disquieting black monolith that dominates the center.
- Fiesole and Florence. The view from the top of Florence, as you approach it, is very impressive. A tour of the city then, once the trek is over, is a must. Maybe celebrating in a wine shop like I did 😉
The choice to bring the tent on his shoulders is certainly the most tiring , and I must say that none of the people I crossed in my path had decided to do the same. But it's a way to be much freer , and if you feel tired before you get to your destination, just find any secluded spot to get ready for the night. My strategy was precisely that of "I stop where I feel, when I think" and at the end of my journey I felt decidedly regenerated.
If you make this choice, however, remember that the camps are scarce in the first part of the path and then you will be forced to pitch the tent illegally. In this case, take some energy and time to find the right place, and remember to mount it as late as possible in the evening, and take it apart at dawn, to avoid problems. Also, you could have company if you stop in some particularly wild areas in the Apennines: remember that there are wolves in those parts and I myself was not just the third night, near Monzuno. Even though I only heard the noise and saw the crushed grass the next morning, I realized that probably a boar slept next to me, outside the tent.
To wash myself in the early days I used public fountains (taking a shower in the center of a village under the eyes of passers-by is an experience to be done at least once in life), the river Rhine at the end of the first stage (there was a pebble beach, near where I stayed) and the baths of the bars where I took my 3 beers daily, to reinstate the mineral salts lost by sweating.
Once I started sleeping in the campgrounds, I felt surrounded by unbridled luxury!
At each stage you will pass for at least one village, where you will have the opportunity to buy food in the various grocery stores present and reported on some guides (I will speak after the importance of driving). Sometimes I stopped in some bar , when present, also to eat something hot and different from the usual cans and energy bars. Not to mention that in doing so I managed not to bring down my average daily hop consumption.
Organizing me so I saved a lot, but it must be said that B & B and hotel not lacking along the way, and if you want a less "wild" experience you will not have trouble finding it. The only caution is to book well in advance, especially if you are not traveling alone and if you are in high season. In this regard, I mark a place that I thought was very nice: the Rifugio del Viandante , near Monzuno. It is definitely in hippie style and outside, in the grove, there are several works of art on the subject with this style of life and well integrated with the surrounding environment.
Not to forget
As for any trekking a bit challenging, never forget proper shoes (possibly waterproof, which you never know), spare socks, trekking sticks, especially if you have a heavy backpack can be very useful. Do not forget also energy bars and / or food to reintegrate the energy during the day and plenty of water . Especially for the water I want to say that if you walk in the summer as I did (and thank goodness it was only beginning of June), it will never be too much. I have come to drink 3 liters of water every day.
in addition, a compass and a paper guide with details of the stops and the route maps will be useful, especially if you do not have the possibility to recharge your mobile phone and use google maps. In the most complete guides there are all the tips to better address the movements, such as alternative routes, information on the difference in altitude of the trek and presence of grocery stores, bars and water sources. Equally important is to close the backpack well in order not to lose it, as happened to me two days before the end (I had taken" Il Sentiero Degli Dei "by Paolo Cervigni)
Finally, do not forget to talk to other travelers that you will cross along the way. I had the opportunity to meet anglo / Italians who helped me by giving me patches for the blisters that were crippling me, a German who played the mandolin in the woods and two Italian girls who meditated listening to him, a girl who helped me find the road after I lost my guide with the maps and many others, which made my experience unforgettable! strong>
If you want to know more, you can consult the official website of Via Degli Dei , where you can for example find out why it's called so, and you can also download the official app (which I have not tried, not being a lover of technology), with the path and the GPS tracks, which are still recoverable from other sources by hacking a bit with various searches on google.
spoiler: the Via Degli Dei is so called because the route passes through places like Monte Adone, Monzuno (Mons Iovis, Monte di Giove), Monte Venere, Monte Luario (Lua was the Roman goddess of atonement). All names of deities 😉