Grand finale, with an extremely pleasant and rewarding stage, with the beautiful views towards Montovolo and Monte Vigese gradually approaching.
The first part runs along the Brasimone torrent and the many mills that in the past took advantage of its waters, and then climbs towards the Montovolo Shrine, located in a unique place, that also houses the Oratory of Santa Caterina d'Alessandria and a memorial path dedicated to the Salvemini school tragedy, when a military plane crashed killing 12 students. The descent towards Riola di Vergato is full of charming attractions, from the historic villages of Sterpi and Scola, perfectly preserved, to the Rocchetta Mattei, a truly unique castle. Upon arrival, the church designed by the Norwegian architect Alvar Aalto, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta will welcome the travellers at the end of the Via Mater Dei.
Not far from the path, for those wishing to explore deeply the beautiful surroundings of Monte Vigese, there are several places that are worth a visit, easily reachable. Like Vigo, a village of Roman origin, and its beautiful church. Or the Frascari Oratory, in the Serra dei Frascari area. This one is dedicated to the Madonna dell'Addolorata (Virgin of Sorrow): the construction began in 1668 and was finished in 1673. There is a beautiful painted stucco statue inside, depicting the Madonna seated, with joined hands, and seven swords stuck in the heart. It is annually carried in procession.
Finally, the Church of San Giovanni Battista in Verzuno, one of the oldest churches in the Bolognese mountains. Mentioned as early as the year 976, it was later rebuilt on the remains of an ancient castle, following a disastrous landslide.
A few steps away from the path, in the locality of Confienti, there is a small gem of the Bolognese Apennines: an oratory dedicated to the Madonna del Rosario and to Saints Fabiano, Sebastiano and Rocco. It is the oldest in the Emilia-Romagna Region, built by the locals grateful for the escaped plague in 1630. It is mentioned in several historical documents and it has experienced various vicissitudes along its long history, but it has recently been recovered thanks to the work of refurbishing made by the Parish and the Pro Loco of Lagaro. It has a rectangular plan and a gabled structure, with a small circular window on the facade and a small bell gable on the roof. A little hidden treasure not to be missed.
A little higher than the Shrine of Montovolo, this simple stone church, an authentic jewel of the mountain Romanesque, preserves remarkable paintings dating back to the fourteenth century, depicting heaven, purgatory and hell. Knights and ladies, Christ and the four Evangelists, episodes from the life of Saint Catherine and the very original ‘Youth and Death’. The story tells that it was built by the will of a group of Bolognese feudal lords returning from the fifth crusade (1217/29) after fighting in the battle of Damietta. The particular name of the Oratory gave Montovolo the nickname of "Sinai Bolognese". The signs left by the passage of the front during the Second World War are still evident on the south wall.
Majestic Castle, owing its name to Count Cesare Mattei (1809-1896), who had built it on the ruins of an ancient construction dating back to the 13th century, the Rocca di Savignano. An eclectic character, the count, who, after a not positive political experience, dedicated his life to the study of electro homeopathy, an alternative medicine that was very successful between the end of the 1800s and the beginning of the 1900s and which gave him great fame. He directed the construction of the castle himself. The structure was subsequently modified by himself and then by his heirs, to make it a labyrinth of stairs, halls, towers and rooms, all in multiple styles.
Un luogo dal fascino incredibile, la cui visita non può assolutamente lasciare indifferenti.
Beautiful medieval village, almost perfectly preserved, it allows the visitors to immerse themselves in a reality of other times. Mentioned in documents dated back to the 1200s, it probably owes its name to the term 'Sculca', of Roman origin, which indicates a guard post in an elevated position. In fact, the village was built with military purposes, in defence of the Monastic centre of Montovolo. This is also evident looking at its urban composition, where several towers stand out. A majestic cypress, a centuries-old tree with an estimated age of over 700 years, is also of great charm. The small village of 'Gli Sterpi', is also very impressive, not far from La Scola.
An incredible artwork, with an incredible story, that had origin in 1965 from a meeting between the great Finnish architect and the current Cardinal of Bologna, Giacomo Lercaro. A project that has experienced many difficulties and obstacles, so much that none of them lived enough to see the complex finished (1978). But thanks to the obstinate stubbornness of the parish priest of Riola and some fellow villagers, it allowed this small town to have this treasure of modern architecture realized. Designed to integrate perfectly with the natural environment that surrounds it, the church represents the convergence point of Alvar Aalto's personal research on sacred architecture and it is part of a parish complex entirely designed by him, which also includes a large churchyard, the bell tower, the sacristy and the rectory.
VIA MATER DEI The Camino of the Marian Sanctuaries of the Bolognese Apennines
Foiatonda Cooperativa di comunità
Via della Libertà, 2 - Madonna dei Fornelli
40048 San Benedetto Val di Sambro (BO)