A very fascinating leg, where small villages alternate with forests and points with beautiful views of the Apennine mountains, in particular Monte Cimone and Corno alle Scale. The village of Bruscoli is the intermediate stop, only stopover point located in Tuscany. From Madonna dei Fornelli, it heads towards the charming village of Qualto, then pass near Montefredente and then towards Ca 'de' Santoni, with the characteristic Pian del Voglio Church in sight. While crossing a beautiful beech and fir trees forest, it enters Tuscany region, arriving to Bruscoli immediately after, a charming village with several points of interest that are worth a stop. A descent along the Biscione torrent, with its beautiful falls, and then the Gambellato torrent, to be crossed at a beautiful farmhouse, heads to Roncobilaccio. A suggestive climb leads to the magical Boccadirio Shrine, located near the arrival in Baragazza.
NOT TO BE MISSED
(San Benedetto Val di Sambro)
"Nestled in the mountains, in the Sambro valley, a small jewel stands out among the woods, still preserving traces of the past on its stony body ...."
Qualto is perhaps the oldest village in the Municipality of San Benedetto Val di Sambro; scholars mention the land of Aqualto as early as 1094. Its origin dates back to the Middle Ages, when the walls of a fortified castle surrounded the today’s church of San Gregorio Magno. Built in 1300, it is dedicated to the Beata Vergine del Carmine who protected Qualto from the plague in 1630.
Surrounded by centuries-old chestnut groves, its isolation in the woods, at over 700 meters above sea level, allowed Qualto to partly preserve the original aspect of wild beauty, formed over the centuries: stone walls, roofs of slabs and ancient architraves characterize many buildings and take us back in time, making us still breathe the medieval era magic atmosphere.
Via degli Dei
In Madonna dei Fornelli the Via Mater Dei crosses the Via degli Dei, one of the most popular paths today. Thousands of walkers travel it every year, moving from Bologna to Florence, following a track that partly covers the ancient Roman road that connected Bologna to Arezzo. An extremely charming journey, which combines an ancient history to the fascination of moving, at a slow pace, between two of the main cities of the peninsula. Madonna dei Fornelli represents an ideal meeting point among the pilgrims of the two paths, a crossroads between two different experiences, united by the desire to learn deeply about the territory and its people.
Roman road - Flaminia Militare
Pian di Balestra – Monte Bastione (San Benedetto Val di Sambro – Firenzuola)
Following a dream and the tales told by the elder people, Cesare Agostini and Franco Santi, two simple enthusiasts, spent years looking for an ancient Roman road, built to connect Bologna to Arezzo, which folk tales wanted to pass along Pian di Balestra plateau. In 1979 their efforts were rewarded by the discovery of an ancient paving on Mount Bastione at 1190 meters above sea level, 6 km away from Madonna dei Fornelli. More segments were rediscovered later, corroborating their theories. Today, a great scientific debate concerns this road still, but nothing can detract value from this incredible discovery, huge stones that Roman legionaries and pilgrims of the Middle Ages walked, as modern hikers are doing today. An incredibly suggestive place to discover, deep in the green of the forests between Bologna and Florence.
The leg does not present any particular difficulty, it is only a little long. For this reason, as for the abundancy of interesting sites that the area has, at the half of the stage there is a stopover in Bruscoli. This is also the place where 3 pathways have junction, giving many options to the wayfarers: Via degli Dei, Alta Via dei Parchi and Via Mater Dei of course. There are several chances to find accommodation especially in the Tuscan part and in the Roncobilaccio area. In the Montefredente area, with a small diversion, it is possible to reach the village, where several services are available.
There is just one warning: to check carefully the effective possibility of crossing the Biscione and Gambellato torrents without troubles. It is strongly recommended, especially in case of heavy rains, in the preceding days also, to gather information in Bruscoli about the conditions of the waterways. In the event of a flood, it is possible to take the alternative route showed on the map, from Bruscoli descending towards the Cerdello area and then, along Via delle Capanne, towards the Roncobilaccio highway entrance, to rejoin the path in Roncobilaccio itself.