A sanctuary, popular viewpoint and symbolic protector of the city of Bologna, the church of San Luca is located on a lofty nook just outside the town and offers visitor a splendid panorama over the surrounding area. For centuries the site has been a popular pilgrimage site and in the 17 and 18C the city even extended its characteristic porticos up the hill to provide visitors with shelter. The San Luca portico is, in fact, the longest in the town. Famous for its Madonna and Child painting brought here by a Greek pilgrim in the year 1000, the church is a particular favourite with the Bolognese as it can be seen from such a long way off, it is almost inevitably the first sign of the town travellers see when returning home.
Monte Sole is a Historical Park that stretches across the municipalities of Marzabotto, Monzuno and Grizzana Morandi in the picturesque Bolognese Apennines. Established by the Emilia Romagna Regional Authorities to preserve the memory of the massacre that took place there during the Second World War, today the Monte Sole Historical Park is a Protected Area offering a series of different trails that can be enjoyed on foot, mountain bike or horseback.
THE FUTA PASS, THE SP 65 TRANSAPENNINE “FUTA” ROAD, THE FUTA GERMAN MILITARY CEMETERY, THE GOTHIC LINE
The “Passo della Futa” is a pass located at 950 MASL in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines on the historic SP 65 “Futa” road midway between Bologna and Florence.
Before the A1 motorway (known as the Autostrada del Sole or Sunshine Highway) was built in the 1960s to create a high-speed connection between Bologna and Florence, the SP 65 “Futa” road was an extremely important highway for both people and goods travelling between Emilia Romagna and Tuscany. This can be seen by the ancient walls built to shelter travellers from the elements that still stand along the road leading to the pass.
During the Second World War, the highly strategic location of the Futa Pass was a crucial and strongly fortified node in the Gothic Line, the German defensive front that sought to slow down the Allied military advance. From a historical point of view, the Futa Pass has since become an atmospheric place of commemoration for the many soldiers who lost their lives here and in the 1960s the Futa German Military Cemetery, the largest German burial ground in Italy, was built at the summit of the pass.
THE TREBBIO CASTLE
Built in the 12C, the majestic Trebbio Castle stands on a hilltop overlooking the Mugello valley in the municipality of San Piero at Sieve on the Tuscan side of the Via degli Dei. During the renaissance the castle was used as a hunting lodge by the Medici family and in particular by Lorenzo the Magnificent who invited the young Amerigo Vespucci to stay there during an attack of the plague in Florence. Surrounded by tall, stately cypress trees that add to its picturesque air, today the castle is home to a classic Tuscan olive oil press and winery. The ancient remains of the Via Flaminia Militare road surface can also be admired in the vicinity of the castle.
Not far from the Trebbio Castle on the stretch of the Via degli Dei overlooking the Mugello valley stands the stately peak of Monte Senario, home to the convent of the Ordine dei Servi di Maria. This charming structure was built in the 13C by seven founding saints whose relics are still conserved in the Church that was restyled in a Baroque manner in the 18C. Monte Senario offers splendid views over the Tuscan Apennines as far as Fiesole and Florence.