The 3rd leg is characterized by a great abundancy of points of interest and beautiful views. From Zena the path climbs up to the Shrine of Santa Maria di Zena. Along the way it is possible to stare at the ancient Castle of Zena, of the Heir’s Tower and the path passes by Tazzolavillage, which houses the truly peculiar Botroidi Museum, that is worth a visit absolutely. After the Shrine, the trail is along a beautiful and very panoramic ridge, followed by a descent and an ascent that leads to the small village of Castelnuovo di Bisano, where a small but fascinating church dedicated to San Giovanni Battista is located. A little further on, the beautiful Archaeological Naturalistic Area of Monte Bibelefollowed by Quinzano little village, where begins the last climb of the day, toward Loiano.
VIA MATER DEI
Zena Pianoro - Loiano
Not to be missed
Halfway between Zena and Monte delle Formiche, there is the little village of Tazzola. Once you enter it, an inscription on the wall of an old stable indicates the Botroidi’s Museum, a collection of anthropomorphic stones, found by Luigi Fantini along the Zena torrent in the 1960s, that will narrate about the history of these lands from the Pliocene to the present. A very peculiar geological path, where the visitor is invited to 'touch' and, through colour, tact and smell, learn about the history of the earth, in a direct and engaging way, through 80 million years of history. A unique place, full of surprises, as unique is the environment of the Contrafforte Pliocenico, a nature reserve rich in ancient natural monuments.
Zena Castle and Tower of the Heir
The Zena Castle, a very ancient, from Matilde di Canossa’s time, fortress, built before the year 1000, has held, during its existence, many roles and has undergone numerous transformations. From border outpost, between Tuscany and Emilia, to prison, residence and even a German command base during the Second World War. There are numerous stories and legends concerning this building, which hopefully will be recovered and reopened to the public.
The history of the Tower of the Heir (or of the ‘Net’) is probably linked to the castle. It is located a little higher than the Castle itself, built with lookout functions. Today it is not possible to visit it, because it is private property, but it still forms a significant part of the landscape along the way.
Monte Bibele Archaeological Park
Monte Bibele is a rare and precious cultural project. Area continuously investigated for half a century, it represents the most important Italian archaeological complex - one of the best known in Europe - as regards the alliances between Celts, Etruscans and other Italic peoples who tried to counter the Roman advance.
Since 2015, the area has been entirely redeveloped with the building of the Etruscan-Celtic museum-town of Pianella di Monte Savino, the construction of a Service Center and the renovation of the ancient path of Via della Carrozza. The new excavations and the restoration work of the ancient floors and of the internal connecting roads have consecrated the rebirth of this archaeological reality, laying the foundations for its full exploitation, knowledge and usability in the European context.
The path inside the area shows a past that is revived - a settlement that has its fulcrum in the fourth and third centuries BC, when Celts and Etruscans occupied the Idice valley – a reality becoming tangible thanks to the reconstructions of ancient houses placed among the archaeological remains of the village itself, in a context of great naturalistic and landscape importance, among geological formations and biodiversity.
The archaeological area of Monte Bibele and the Archaeological Museum, located in Monterenzio, distinct and not contiguous places, but linked by a single management project, constitute the first two nodes of the concept of a Networked Park, whose third node is the territory itself the two realities are inserted within.
Guided tours and didactic-scientific activities are organized by specialized archaeologists and allow visitors to know and experience firsthand ancient production techniques and lifestyles of the past.
Arrival of the third leg, Loiano is located in an ideal position for those who intend to make it a base for trips and excursions, touching places where nature, history and men activities have left testimonies capable of narrating something to the attentive visitor. On the Futa road, the historic link between Bologna and Florence, Loiano has always represented an ideal stopping point for travellers and an ideal place for a holiday as well.
This area is largely dedicated to organic farming, with the production of high-quality crops, including cereals, dairy products, chestnuts and their derivatives, well valued by local restaurants. Moreover, there are sports facilities and routes for outdoor activities that can satisfy even the most demanding.
A wide and varied cultural offer thanks to the presence of the Astronomical Observatory, the Casoncello Gardens, the Path of the Mills, the important artworks hosted in the churches of the Parish that also enrich the visits to the numerous and typical hamlets in the area. There are also numerous events organized to enhance local traditions such as: the ‘Festa D'la Batdura’, the ‘Festa nel Bosco’, the initiatives of Pro Loco and Viva il Verde Associations and the other several and active local associations.