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Castel d ‘Aiano is in the Bolognese Apennines, an area dotted with churches, historic buildings and mills. It is the highest point of the metropolitan city of Bologna, from here you can admire the side of the valley of the river Reno and the river Panaro, with a suggestive view of the Cimone mountain chain.

There are many green paths, including the Orrido di Gea, an itinerary of great charm, leading to the ruins of the Mulino di Gea. A fascinating place where you can explore the area of the river bed, rich in waterfalls and wells of cold and crystalline water, with particular limestone formations. The route then continues back to Villa d’Aiano passing through ancient mule tracks made of cobblestones, with the beautiful “perches” (spaces carved into the rock for resting without taking the sack of freshly ground flour off one’s shoulders).

In the Aneva valley, in San Cristoforo di Labante are the Grotte di Labante (Labante Caves), one of the largest travertine caves in Italy and the world. They are embellished by evocative natural waterfalls fed by the same spring that gave rise to the limestone formation. The inside is crossed by tunnels where the water has moulded plants and calcite crystals with the strangest shapes.

The Santuario della Madonna di Brasa (Sanctuary of the Madonna of Brasa), built in the place where, according to popular tradition, there was an image of the Madonna hanging from an old chestnut tree, is worth a visit. The image removed by the owner of the farm and brought home, reappeared the next day on the tree. The structure dates back to the early eighteenth century but the current building is the result of successive modifications after bombing in the Second World War. The sanctuary is a destination for numerous pilgrimages.

The Abbazia di Santa Lucia (Abbey of Santa Lucia) is in the hamlet of Rocca di Roffeno. It was built by the Benedictine monks partly with the aim of providing accommodation and assistance to the many travellers who travelled along the “Nonantolana”, a road connecting Emilia and Tuscany.

The small village of Sassomolare, a classic fortified point perched on three hills from which you can enjoy a beautiful view is also of interest.

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