A New Addition to Emilia Romagna's Slow Travel Offering

The Via Mater Dei, a winding path between Bologna and Tuscany, is the newest spiritual trail to be added to Emilia Romagna’s collection of 19 mapped religious routes, accessible by foot and bike.

The Via Mater Dei totals 98 miles and connects the city of Bologna to the most important Marian sanctuaries in the nine municipalities of the Bolognese Apennines: Pianoro, Monterenzio, Loiano, Monghidoro, San Benedetto Val di Sambro, Castiglione dei Pepoli, Camugnano, Grizzana Morandi, Vergato and Bruscoli in the Tuscan territory. The route, which also connects with other popular paths, runs along a stretch of the Via del Fantini in Val di Zena, crosses the Via degli Dei in Madonna dei Fornelli and the Via della Lana and della Seta in Castiglione dei Pepoli near Montovolo.

Andrea Babbi, president of the Mater Dei Association, said that the route saw a thousand walkers in its first year and about 4,000 this year. Via Mater Dei is the only road that runs its first stretch in the shadow of a UNESCO Heritage site, the Porticoes of Bologna, as it begins near Piazza Maggiore, at the Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Vita, Babbi added.

The spiritual walking path provides visitors with the opportunity to discover fascinating archaeological sites and charming villages while savoring the beauty of nature. It is an example of Emilia Romagna’s overarching wellness initiative, encouraging a style of travel focused on physical activity, well-being, relaxation, nutrition and rejuvenation.

"The Wellness Valley," which began as an idea from the Wellness Foundation, has gone on to become an international district of healthy living, encouraging locals and visitors to get out and explore the outdoors through a series of "Slow Travel" walking paths while also enjoying fresh, local foods and connecting with other people. All of these factors make Romagna a global destination for travelers seeking to experience a holistic approach to healthy living.

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