Between saints and false gods

Italy – The fascinating itineraries in the heart of popular legends and Christianity, for those who want to walk with the imagination between Parma, Piacenza and Reggio Emilia in Destinazione Turistica Emilia.

The charm of a destination is also due to the power of its contradictions. As far as the Tourist Destination of Emilia is concerned, the sense of the sacred and that of the profane alternate and intertwine with extreme naturalness on the paths and on the suggestive conformations of the territory, even before the intervention of man, to whom we owe only the legends prepared over the centuries to explain the inexplicable. Thus, walking on the marked paths between Parma, Piacenza and Reggio Emilia, is like moving in a fantastic narrative, worked out by four hands of saints and devils.

The motion of the feet acts as a switch for the imagination, when the itinerary that winds under the soles crosses the crucial places of the Via Matildica del Volto Santo. The secular and religious aspects are confused in a network of paths that evoke with its sole existence the era of the feudal splendour of the Grand Countess and at the same time the long and moving pilgrimages on roads of faith and atonement directed in symbols of Christianity. Walking through villages and castles, we move over time from the blood of Christ of the Church of Sant’Andrea to the Holy Face, from Mantua to Lucca, passing through Reggio Emilia and gradually leaving behind the epic of Matilda of Canossa, with the right to leave the road and set out to discover the National Park of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and its Mab-Unesco Area from the cliff of Canossa to the Hospital of San Pellegrino in Alpe, overlooking the Garfagnana, are just one of the reasons for interest that justify an interregional trek between sacred and profane.
For information: Via Matildica del Volto Santo –

The remains of the Veleia-romana, in the Apennines of Piacenza, are the starting point for a three-hour walk in the woods of chestnut and beech trees, the cradle of dark legends. At the bottom of the Chero valley – among the fields and vineyards of the gentle hills – one of the most important Roman archaeological sites in Emilia sees the wood become the constant of a shady itinerary that preserves one of its most evocative sceneries in correspondence with the Devil’s Stones, the rocky and vaguely disturbing gateway to an abandoned path. Their presence is linked to a legend that has to do with the decline of the Roman city of Veleia: angry at the conversion of the inhabitants to the Christian religion, the devil who lived on the top of the mountain shook the earth violently, causing a landslide, but lost his balance by imprinting his goat’s footprints on the two rocks, a must for pilgrims to the sanctuary of Our Lady of the Mount, which is reached – in its present form – through the Lawn of Blades at the foot of Mount Moria and then a dense forest. Also appreciated by the birdwatchers – who can admire examples of titmouse, woodpecker, rampichino and nurse from the collar on the huge chestnut trees – the circular route can end with a very recommended visit to what remains of the Roman colony of Veleia, with the bases of the baths, some residential areas and the square of the forum.
For information: Monte Moria Park –

According to an ancient medieval legend, even the rocky spires and the sandstone towers called “Devil’s Jumps” – whose formation dates back to 80 million years ago – are actually the footsteps of the evil one, escaped from a hermit who lived in Val Baganza, near Calestano (PR). The 5 km long composite and aligned rocky vein, radically extraneous to the surrounding landscape, is one of the most curious attractions of the Via degli Scalpellini, so called because of the frequent attendance of craftsmen, who came here to get supplies of sandstone at the top, an ideal material for sculptures and architectural elements such as portals, fountains and fireplaces of the houses of the valley and of the Romanesque churches of the Via Francigena. One could therefore say that, in these places between Cassio and Chiastre, the sacred and the profane meet concretely, as if the devil had not completely resigned himself to abandoning the field.

With a length of 135 kilometres, 110 of which in Emilia Romagna, the Via di Linari has finally been travelled over the centuries by pilgrims who used it as an alternative route to the Via Francigena, on which it was grafted at the town of Fidenza (PR), to reach Tuscany through the Lagastrello Pass and rejoin the Via Matildica del Volto Santo. The 2019 will see the positioning of the official signs and the route will become even more “readable” already from Torrechiara (PR), which also identifies the point where the road creeps into the Reserve MAB UNESCO. Among the stops along the way, you will find the Chapel of Moragnano and the ruins of the chapel of Roncarola, a prelude to the passage in the Valley of the Knights. The bastions and fortified houses recall a time immortalized in the blocks of Romanesque stone of Caneto, Zibana and Palanzano, while it is the figure of a wayfarer moved by faith to be imprinted in the concio of the chapel of Rimagna.

For information: Cammini Emilia Romagna

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