Our Second Set of Walks in Emilia-Romagna

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Today, we will start our second set of walks in Emilia-Romagna. In contrast to the first group of hikes that we posted a few weeks ago – which were full day trips – the shorter walks from this second group require less of a commitment and take a much smaller chunk out of your holiday schedule.

The principal objectives, however, remain the same: our walks in Emilia-Romagna are meant to provide some diversion, to drag you out into the fresh air and to help you, if possible, get some first-hand (or “first-foot”) experience of the landscape through which you are driving.

We start this series of three walks in the town of Brisighella, which is located approx. 20 km south of the main road between Bologna and Rimini.

"town of Brisighella - walks in Emilia-Romagna"

Brisighella is a member of the select club called Italy’s Most Beautiful Villages (“I Borghi Più Belli d’Italia”) and a perennial contender for national tourism awards.

Brisighella’s townscape, however, as is so often the case with these “beautiful” villages, was not the product of primarily aesthetic considerations but merely the best way of answering a severe environmental challenge. Brisighella’s problem in the late Middle Ages was that the town’s wealth (it operated several highly productive gypsum mines) had made it an attractive target for bandits and aristocratic warlords.

The walls of the buildings on Piazza Carducci near the town centre are hiding a covered walkway on the second floor, which allowed the citizens to evacuate the Old Town for the near-by hills in the event of a raid.

"typical walls of houses you see inwalks in Emilia-Romagna"

This path is called the Via degli Asini, the donkey’s path, because it was not too steep and could be used by the pack animals who were kept on the ground floor of the houses, immediately underneath the citizens’ living quarters.

"via degli Asini - walks in Emilia-Romagna"

The half-moon windows ensured that there was always sufficient light on the pathway, while also allowing the fleeing citizens to shoot at any invaders, buying themselves some additional time for a safe getaway.

We can still climb the Via degli Asini all the way up to the safer heights just outside the old village.

Today, the hill is crowned by the Orologio Tower that was built in the 19th century when it replaced an older and even sturdier structure.

"Orologio Tower - walks in Emilia-Romagna"

From up here, we also understand why Brisighella is called the “village of three hills”: on the hill right next to us, we can see the 15th century La Rocca castle, and on the ridge behind, an 18th century Marian shrine called the Monticino.

"La Rocca Castle - walks in Emilia-Romagna"

Brisighella is located in the south of the Emilia Romagna region, which will – just twenty kilometres from here – already blend into the hills of Tuscany. You get some nice views of the countryside from here, …

"hills of Orologio - walks in Emilia-Romagna"

… and if you want, and have some time, you can walk down the Orologio hill on the other side and explore the landscape a little. What is holding you back?

Brisighella makes a perfect stopover on the road from Bologna to Rimini or Ravenna, but is also worth the detour if you are travelling by train. Connections are frequent and excellent: Brisighella is the first stop on the busy line from Faenza to Florence, which circulates almost hourly.

"the rooftops of Brisighella - walks in Emilia-Romagna"

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