When I first heard about the Path of Gods Italy, a 130km hike (or walk) that connects Bologna to Florence my immediate thoughts were “I have to do it”! It even sounds epic, it’s a path of… GODS. I imagined grand views, huge mountain passes, and the kind of scenery found in this part of Italy. I wasn’t disappointed. The name Path of Gods Italy (or Via Degli Dei) comes from the mountains on route, all named after Gods. It’s not to be confused for the ‘other’ Path of Gods, a half day hike on the Amalfi Coast. This is the new one, known as the Path of Gods ITALY, just to be clear. This one is 5-day hike (minimum), or less if you choose to do it by mountain bike.
We were mostly hiking, but also making a point of experiencing all the other activities on offer here. Because it’s not just a hike, there are many other things to see and do along the way. Therefore, we took 8 days and started in Bologna, and I think it was the perfect way to see everything on the path of gods. We found the perfect mix of adventure activities, culture, history, food and hiking. These are the things that Italy is about, we saw some of the best that Emilia Romagna and Tuscany have to offer. Below you’ll see a day-by-day itinerary, and exactly what I thought (spoiler alert: I kinda liked it!).
Below you’ll find our full video, it quite literally includes everything you need to know! It’s also an interactive style, with certain activities and destinations popping up meaning you can book them or find out more… Enjoy!
Day 1: Bologna
We started in Bologna, heading to Florence, or more accurately to our finishing point of Fiesole. It was my first time in Bologna and I’d heard a lot about it, so expectations were high. It really didn’t disappoint me, we weren’t here long, but I always maintain the first ‘feeling’ I get of a city, is often the most accurate. I had that feeling in Bologna immediately, from the mile after mile of unique archways lining the streets, to the intimidating tower in the city centre. It also feels like an active city, which I love. We started at Piazza Meggiore, and the first part of the path of gods takes us up a popular route for runners and walkers, it’s a long slog uphill sheltered by 4km of archways to San Luca. San Luca would become an iconic structure for the first few days, always catching a glimpse of it in the distance, like it was watching over us.
Must visit: Cantina Floriano Cinti vineyard. We were treated to a fantastic meal with a selected wine for each course and amazing service. It was great to learn that 80% of the food served was made on site!
Top Tip: Stop by the Bologna Welcome tourism office at Piazza Maggiore and pick up a map and stamp book to collect stamps from all the key places along the route. It’s great motivation to stop at all the key points of interest and an awesome souvenir once you’ve finished.
Day 2: Mount Adonis
This article will follow our itinerary in order, mentioning the most important sights and landmarks, places that stood out to me. It was day two that we took on one of the steepest climbs of the entire trip, to Mount Adonis (Monte Adone). It was arguably one of the best views of the trip, possibly even number one; but I’m not sure I want to commit to that just yet! The climb took around 45 mins, it was tough, but my god these views are insane. Even if you don’t take on the Path of Gods, this hike is possible from Bologna, so do it. In fact, before of after the hike, spend a few days in Bologna and get a feel for what the city has to offer. I’m planning on spending a month here in 2019, so watch out for more content.
Eat here: On the way to Mount Adonis, we had the perfect pit-stop at Nova Arbora, where you can pick up a stamp for your booklet. Nova Arbora is a botanical garden and guesthouse, set in an idyllic part of the stunning Emilia Romagna countryside, with views over San Luca. You can book to stay here on Airbnb, and if you’re not a member of Airbnb yet then get a £25 off your first Airbnb booking with this link!
Must Visit: Rocchetta Mattei is a castle previously owned by a count with a mix of architecture, from the Medieval Gothic style to Moorish. It’s a fascinating place that must be seen, because from the photos you really wouldn’t guess it’s in Italy. This is a detour away from the Path of Gods so not for those on a fixed time schedule. It’s only open to the public at weekends and you must book in advance.
Eat & Sleep: Agriturismo Prunara is a beautiful and traditional family-run guest house, our host Paulo and his wife cooked us some hearty Italian food served alongside homemade Lambrusco from his father’s recipe. Authentic and delicious. Paulo’s also not bad at table football, but in this scenario England triumphed over Italy ?.
Day 3: Mountain Biking
For day 3 we would hike and mountain bike our way along the Path of Gods. It was a nice break from only walking. Mountain biking is becoming more and more accessible thanks to the popularity of e-bikes, and that’s what we had. OK the first time I used one I also thought it was cheating, I know what you’re thinking! But if it means you cover more ground, put the group on an even keel, and make Mountain Biking more accessible, how can you knock that?
We picked up the bikes at Agriturismo Prunara and cycled to Monzuno, where we would walk again for around 6km. We walked through a gorgeous chestnut wood and on to the top of Le Croci, where we picked up the bikes again. We cycled through some beautiful mountain passes, passing Monte Venere and Monte Galletto, and finished up later cycling down to Madonna dei Fornelli. My highlight was passing by scenic flower meadows and wind turbines with views for miles.
Sleep & Eat: B&B Romani: we were here for two nights and were treated to Elise’s wonderful hosting skills and her home-cooked Italian food. You can book B&B Romani on Airbnb and if you’re not a member of Airbnb yet then get a £25 off your first Airbnb booking, enjoy!
Day 4: Lake Suviana
This was our first day away from the Path of Gods, and Lake Suviana is a little detour, but wow it’s worth it. The lake has so much to do; kayaking, stand-up paddle-boarding, wind-surfing, sailing, swimming or just sun-bathing. I started with stand-up paddle-boarding as the water just looked perfect, it was so calm, just a gentle breeze. After a quick break the wind had picked up, so I did wind-surfing for the first time! And much to my surprise I managed it, standing up and turning. I loved it, there wasn’t too much wind, but I think that made it a little easier to pick it up. It’s the perfect way to relax and give your feet a much-needed rest from hiking.
Eat here: we had lunch at Ristorante Porancè, which has a great mix of cuisine being so close to Tuscany. We were starting to learn that each village here has its own style and traditions passed down through generations. My recommendation: the Panzanella.
Day 5: The Ancient Road
Our starting point today is Pian de Balestra, and it’s an important day, this is where we discover parts of the actual ancient road, only discovered in 1979. When you see it, you start to really get a feel for the history of the road, standing where Roman soldiers once marched, imagining all walks of life that have passed between these two fantastic cities, each with their own amazing history. Our guide Gianluca has been fantastic all the way, but it’s here that I really feel you’ll miss out walking it without one. All the snippets of information, the history that passed along the Path of Gods.
Must visit: Cemetery of the Futa: a German military cemetery which contains 33,000 graves. But it’s more about what it represents, a sign of unity, solidarity and peace, and a sombre reminder of the consequences of war.
Eat & Sleep: Podere Belvedere. A beautiful guest house with a swimming pool, each room is exquisitely decorated in a unique style and it was another example of the incredible food you can taste along the Path of Gods. Thank you to Orinela for being a brilliant host.
Day 6: Convento di Bosco ai Frati
Today we covered around 15km starting at Sant’Agata and eventually finishing at Firenze. It was a day of forest views and changing landscapes. I found this one of the toughest days too. We passed through Beech and chestnut forests, before the view would suddenly open up to views over rolling hills. It’s today we walk from Emilia Romagna to Tuscany, and you can start to see the subtle changes in the landscape.
Later in the afternoon we headed to an important point of interest in Tuscany; Convento di Bosco ai Frati. It’s considered the oldest convent in Tuscany, and the Medici family (very famous in Italy) left it many gifts including restoring it, including one special wooden crucifix attributed to Donatello. It’s the only crucifix representing a naked Jesus that’s accepted by the church!
Must visit: Società Agraria Bacciotti, on route to Sant’Agata you must stop here and try their delicious selection of local cheeses produced on site.
Day 7: Monte Senario
On day 7 we took on the longest day of hiking, we started at San Piero and covered nearly 20km. Today’s views can only be described as typically Tuscany. It’s what you imagine Tuscany to look like, some of the photos I took could have been postcards. The climax of today’s hike was reaching the highest point, at Monte Senario. A 770-year-old monastery with stunning views over the surrounding area. It also has famous liquor to find, which has been distilled only here, when friars started to make it many centuries ago, using plants and tree resin! It was so good I brought a bottle home with me. Make sure you watch the video around 19:50 to see Dave’s reaction when he tasted it, priceless!
Sleep & Eat: Hotel Dino, we ate and slept here, the food was great and there were fantastic views over Florence.
Day 8: Fiesole
Our last day, which could also be added on to the day before, was a short walk to the end of the Path of Gods; Fiesole. What a place to finish, it has disputably some of the best views over Florence. It’s the perfect place to take it all in, enjoy the views and toast to the fact you’ve just completed the Path of Gods Italy. I recommend allowing some time to explore Fiesole, and many of you will spend a few days in Florence too, another beautiful city.
Luggage Transfer and a Guide
During the trip I was asked if I recommend going alone or with a guide. There’s some satisfaction in going at it alone, however our guide Gianluca was fantastic. We learned so many little facts, about the history of the path and the nature. He could always answer our questions (and we had many), was calm when we needed to change plans a little and knew his way perfectly. He was organised through a local company Appennino Slow, although Gianluca Maini is a freelance guide. They also organise your luggage, which is arranged through the hotels connecting along the way. This is brilliant, just taking a day bag and forgetting your main luggage, I cannot recommend that enough.
There you have my ultimate day-by-day itinerary for the Path of Gods Italy, what do you think? Are you inspired? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. What else can you do in this region? I plan to update this post as I keep returning, but take a look at this Ferrari Driving Experience by my friend Janet for a start, this looks like a lot of fun!!