Tourist Guide, Nature Guide, Tour Manager in Emilia Romagna

Bologna - Ferrara - Modena - Forl√¨ Cesena - Ravenna - Rimini - Reggio Emilia - Parma -Piacenza  

ANNA BRINI

Province of Bologna

MARZABOTTO

(ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK OF KAINUA)

The name Marzabotto derives from the words "MARZA BOT" which indicated the casks used to steep the hemp that was widely cultivated in this area until the mid 1900s. The town is located about 25 km south of Bologna along the Via Porrettana, which connects Bologna with the Tuscan Apennines. The town itself lies on the Reno river valley but its large municipal territory extends to another river valley, that of the Setta. Although the area's history begins with the ancient Etruscan city of Kainua, the town obtains a recognizable structure only in the 1700s. The fragmented hill territory, however, tells a different, more complex history, tied to mountain traditions such as that which produced the beautiful Romanesque parish church at Panico. The history of Marzabotto, however, naturally gives first place to the remains of the Etruscan necropolis found on the Misa plateau, a hilltop position that dominates the immediate countryside, including the modern city. Now home to a National Archeology Museum, the remains at Kainua tell the story of a long-ago past in which the Etruscan people and culture were well established in this area. If the Etruscan cemetery represents Marzabotto's ancient past, more recent deaths have made the town infamous for World War Two enthusiasts. In the autumn of 1944, the territory of Marzabotto was the target of a brutal Nazi-fascist retaliation in which hundreds of innocent men, women and children were massacred. To commemorate this tragic event, the community of Marzabotto has created the Historic Park at Monte Sole, a setting that unites the actual sites where the atrocious crimes were committed more than 50 years ago. The itinerary focuses on the area's principal attractions: the Etruscan Museum P. Aria and the archaeological park of ancient Kainua that surrounds it. The Acropolis, Necropolis and the city structure allow us to recreate the life of the Etruscans during the 5 th century B.C., an exciting opportunity to "relive" history. It is also possibile to hike in the Historical Natural Park of Monte Sole were facts of the Second World Word took place.

DOZZA

Dozza is located on the gentle slopes of the Bolognese hills (about 15 km east of Bologna). Cobbled side streets and an imposing medieval castle make this hemlet one of the region's most picturesque towns; add uncontaminated natural surroundings and it becomes a fascinating tourist attraction well off the beaten path. The name "Dozza" derives from the word "doccia" (shower, water), which is paradoxical considering the town is best known for, and has made its fortune with, the quality wine it has produced for centuries. Although the site has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, the city structure we admire today originated in the 13th century. Dozza is famous not only for its beautiful historic buildings and high quality wine but also for its biennial modern art festival the "Painted Wall". Every two years internationally known artists meet here to "decorate" the streets and houses of the city centre. This initiative has made Dozza "the capital of the modern fresco". The "Painted Wall" is Italy's only example of an open-air modern art gallery and contains more than 90 works that can be viewed all year long at no charge. This little-known gem features such renowned artists as Matta, Sassu, Licata, Pozzati, Keizo, and others. This tour takes full advantage of what Dozza has to offer, allowing the visitor to discover the medieval town with its murales, the ancient Romanesque church of Santa Maria, and most of all, the 13th century fortress, rebuilt in the late 15 th century by Caterina Sforza. The castle's rooms retain much of their original flavour: halls, bedrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and the terrifying dungeons where you can still see the graffiti written by its unfortunate inmates. In the castle cellar it is possibile to taste and purchase the superior local wines. 

BENTIVOGLIO

Bentivoglio is a lovely spot, in the Middle Ages known as Ponte Poledrano, being the place where “puledri” (horses) crossed the bridge over the Navile Canal. The Navile Cycle Track is the cycling itinerary which is closely linked to the Canal and its ancient history. Bentivoglio is the name of the noble Bolognese family who built their Castle here. The castle walls still have an authentic 15th century artistic pearl, the “Storie del pane”, an extraordinary cycle of ten frescoes from the School of Ferrara, depicting the various phases of bread-making. Overlooking the Navile Canal, there is Palazzo Rosso, which houses the public library and has splendid decorations by Achille Casanova, showing scenes typical of the local swampy areas. The palace adjoins a gem of industrial archeology: the Mill of Bentivoglio. The first plant dates back to the 14th century, but the mill that can be visited today dates back to the 19th century. The mill was abandoned in 1970 and everything has remained as it was 130 years ago. With flashlight and helmet on your head you can adventurously explore it. Finally, a few kilometers from Bentivoglio, in the spectacular setting of Villa Smeraldi, the Museum of Rural Culture, real pearl of local history. Nature-lovers should not miss the La Rizza Reserve, with its white storks.

SAN LAZZARO

Located just a few kilometres east of Bologna, the small town of San Lazzaro has been inhabited since Paleolithic times, as documented by its excellent archeological museum. San Lazzaro truly came into its own, however, during the Middle Ages when it became a strategic watering place on the roman "Via Emilia", an obligatory stop for those travelling from south to north. The town's name derives from the presence of a leper hospital that once stood in the area now occupied by the town hall. History and wars have not been kind to San Lazzaro; it retains almost none of its past charm. Not far from the town, however, is the extraordinary natural park "dei Gessi Bolognesi" (gypsum vein) which contains valuable historical, artistic, architectural artifacts in a setting of spectacular natural beauty. Of particular interest is the Karsts system Spipola-Acquafredda, one of the world's largest gypsum caves, an obligatory stop for lovers of Nature and adventure. The tour begins with a visit to the excellent Museum of Prehistory, recently renovated with an eye to innovation and interaction, providing the visitor with a fascinating introduction to the subject. After the museum, the tour continues by foot in the Natural Park with visits to the Santa Cecilia Abbey in Croara, the "Palestrina", an ancient selenite mine dating from Roman times, the quarry at Filo where many of the artefacts on display at the museum were recovered, the oratory of the Madonna of the Forests, and a medieval castle.

MONTEVEGLIO

Beautifully situated on the foothills of the Bolognese Apennines (about 20 km west of Bologna) Monteveglio is one of the region's most beguiling medieval townships. The area has long been a zone of contention - between Romans and Byzantines, Byzantines and Longobards, the Church and State, Bologna and Modena - and the town's thick walls bear the imprint of these cultures and their conquests. No man's land, in between the provinces of Bologna and Modena, Monteveglio today offers superb natural beauty (it is located inside the Regional Park "dell'Abbazia") and great historical interest, a must-see tourist attraction far from the madding crowd. The peace and serenity that this spot naturally inspires convinced the Bologna Curia to install a Franciscan community in the monastery and the church of Santa Maria, breathing new life into the region. The abbey as it appears today is a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture, but its roots lie as far back as the 5th century, as testified by the suggestive, ancestral crypt. The reconstruction effected by Mathilda of Canossa in 1000 A.D. is the building we see today in all its austere splendor. It is impossible to remain unaffected by its peaceful cloisters, beautiful scenery, and imposing towers. Don't miss this historical and in many ways mystical experience.

MONTERENZIO

(ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK OF MONTE BIBELE)

Located in the hills to the south-east of Bologna, the village of Monterenzio extends over a large area of the Apennines between the valleys of the Idice and the Sillaro rivers. Mention is made of the Castle of Monterenzio in historical records as early as 1298, though it was lost to history by about the middle of the fourteenth century, devastated by the troops of Barbarossa and the war between Bologna and Ferrara. However, much evidence of the medieval origins of the settlement still remains. 
Between Monterenzio Nuovo and Monterenzio Vecchio stands the thirteenth-century Tower, the distinctive feature of the hamlet of Scaruglio, which was built in the fourteenth century. Going down towards the river Idice, we come to another hamlet, Villa di Cassano, whose buildings date back to between the middle of the fourteenth and the fifteenth century. 
Of considerable interest are the two tower houses on whose portal an eight-point star may be seen. Around Monte Bibele, remains have been found of an Etruscan-Celtic village dating back to the fourth century BC. Excavations have unearthed cisterns, tombs, houses, streets and a number of everyday objects used by the inhabitants of the settlement, such as pottery containing carbonised seeds, tools, decorations, arms, and coins. 
These finds can today be seen in the new Archaeological Museum of Monterenzio and provide evidence of the history of the settlements of the valleys of the Idice and the Zena. The exhibition, which houses the region's most complete collection of Celtic material - one of the most important in Italy - also features a real-life reconstruction of the wooden floor system of a house in the settlement of Pianella di Monte Savino, furnished with authentic objects or reproductions illustrating many aspects of village daily life. The itinerary begins with a visit to the famous local Archaeological Museum, focussing mainly on the Celtic invasions. It continues with a visit to the splendid Archaeological Park of Monte Bibele where the exhibits on show in the museum were discovered. The park extends over a wild hillside area of great fascination, amidst woods populated with deer.

IMOLA

The Rocca Sforzesca (Imola’s fortress), which dates back to the 13th century, is the most imposing building of the urban landscape. The complex, open to the public, hosts a rare collection of ancient weapons and a prestigious exhibition of medieval ceramics. From the top of the building you can take in a 360° view of Imola’s territory, from the plain to the Apennines. Among the many noble palaces of the historical centre (a lot of them open to the public), Palazzo Tozzoni stands out with its splendid furnishings and its perfect state of conservation. Particularly interesting are the cellars of the mansion, hosting a rich collection of historical objects and tools of the local rural culture. Plunged deep in the greenery of its gardens, the San Domenico Museum, located in the cloister of the ancient convent of the Saints Nicolò and Domenico (next to the church of the same name), houses the “Pinacoteca Civica” and the museum “Giuseppe Scarabelli - Archeological and Geology Section”. Among the paintings exhibited, belonging to different ages and schools, you can find paintings by Innocenzo da Imola, Bartolomeo Cesi, Guttuso and De Pisis. The Hospital Pharmacy, inaugurated in 1794 and largely intact with regards to furnishings and decorations, is a fascinating example of a 18th century pharmacy, enriched by the decorated vaulted ceiling and by 457 antique majolica vases displayed in carved wooden cabinets. On the first slopes of the Apennines lays the racetrack which has made Imola a well-known town all around the world. The Circuito Enzo e Dino Ferrari, built in the 50s, still welcomes sporting events of international importance

SAN GIOVANNI PERSICETO

San Giovanni in Persiceto is a village famous not only for its history and its monuments, but also because it is home to a famous carnival. The medieval historical centre, with its original concentric layout, contains numerous notable buildings: in the central square there are the Collegiate Church of San Giovanni Battista with its paintings by Guercino, Albani, Gandolfi and Guardassoni, the Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall), from the 15th-century, and the Opera House, with its complete 18th-century structure. Not to be missed is the fantastic Piazzetta Betlemme, renamed “La piazzetta degli inganni” (The Little Square of Tricks) due to its multicoloured 'trompe l’oeil' by the famous set designer Gino Pellegrini. San Giovanni boasts a high concentration of museums, such as the Museum of the Sky and the Earth (one of the most important planetarium in Italy), the Archaeological Environmental Museum and the Museum of Sacred Art.

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