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Home The Pilgrims' Paths in Emilia Romagna The Pilgrims' Paths

The Pilgrims' Paths

The pilgrim, the homo viator of the Middle Ages, is a perfect representation of the human condition, imagining himself walking towards the heavens. Since antiquity, the pilgrim has set off towards places where this illuminated meeting could take place, where grace would be more widely given than in other places.


The pilgrim moves towards a place that he considers dear and sacred and, when he sets out, he is already there with his mind and his heart. But it is the walk itself between home and his arrival that is fundamental for giving that destination the value that makes it a joyful place and to give the pilgrimage meaning in terms of penitence and moral redemption, of a journey taken on for devotion and soul searching.



History teaches us how the influx of religious pilgrims did not open new roads but instead took advantage of those leading towards Rome from most of the peninsula, which were built by the Romans. In Rome, the Christian capital, the pilgrims, also called "Romei", came together from all over Europe to venerate the relics of Christ and the first Christian martyrs. Already widely documented at the time of the Lombards, this Roman pilgrimage intensified with the beginning of the Frankish domination in Italy and the reconstruction of the sacred Roman Empire. After 1300, the year in which Bonifacio VIII proclaimed a Holy Year, the pilgrimage to Rome became even more popular thanks to the instituting of the Jubilees.


Coming from beyond the Alps, the pilgrims went through Italy from north to south, passing through Emilia Romagna. They crossed the Apennines reaching Tuscany or

Umbria, Assisi or Rome, or they followed the coastal routes to Ravenna, Classe, Cervia, Cattolica, crossing over the Via Emilia and Via Flaminia in several points, to reach the ships in Puglia going to Jerusalem and the Holy Land.


Emilia-Romagna offers the chance today to walk along 14 of these ancient pilgrimage routes on both pedestrian and bike paths, characterized by a strong spiritual, historic and natural value and that are part of the religious-cultural tourism destinations. These paths have maps and for the most part have signs with specific indications. The paths are as follows: the Via Francigena, recognized today by the European Council as a cultural itinerary; the Via Romea Germanica, the Via Romea Nonantolana and Romea Longobarda, ancient European pilgrimage itineraries going to Rome; the Via degli Abati (Abbots' Way), which goes along the paths followed by abbots to cross the Apennines; the Cammino di Sant’Antonio (Saint Anthony's Walk), the Cammino di Assisi (Assisi Walk) and the Cammino di San Vicinio (Saint Vicinius of Sarsina's Walk), tied to places of importance in the lives of Saint Francis and Saint Anthony; the Via degli Dei (The Way of the Gods), which connects Bologna to Florence; the Path of Matilde di Canossa which unites the Reggio Emilia Apennines with Tuscany; the Piccola Cassia, one of the many trails that led from Rome to the Via Francigena; the Via di Linari, in the area around Parma; and the Cammino di Dante (Dante's Walk), which connects Ravenna to Florence.


Along the walk, the pilgrims stopped at important prayer centers and monasteries such as the Ospizio di San Pellegrino in Alpe near Reggio Emilia, the Pomposa Abbey near Ferrara,and Sant'Apollinare in Classe in Ravenna, and they visited sanctuaries such as San Luca inBologna, historic parishes and cities of art such as Piacenza, Modena, Ferrara, andRavenna, archeological sites like Sarsina, medieval towns such as Bobbio, as well as protected nature reserves, regional and provincial parks of extraordinary beauty.


The itineraries connect to important cultural and spiritual centers all located near Emilia Romagna, such as Milan, Padua, Venice, Assisi, Laverna, Camaldoli, Florence, and Rome, with many forms of specific hospitality along the network of pathways such as lodges, pilgrim houses, hostels, convents, monasteries, vacation homes, church houses and the Nine Houses that are part of the ecclesiastical hospitality heritage.



Find out the Holy Doors along the Pilgrim Paths in Emilia Romagna.



Diocese of Reggio Emilia-Guastalla

  • Cathedral of Reggio Emilia
  • Sanctuary of Beata Vergine della Ghiara


Archdiocese of Modena-Nonantola

  • Cathedral of Modena
  • Abbey of Nonantola
  • Sanctuary of Fiorano


Diocese of Carpi

  • Cathedral of Carpi
  • Church of Santa Croce di Carpi
  • Church of San Bernardino da Siena


Archdiocese of Bologna

  • Cathedral of Bologna
  • Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca


Diocese of Imola

  • Cathedral of Imola
  • Basilica del Piratello
  • Sanctuary of the Madonna del Mulino
  • Sanctuary of Ghandolino


Diocese of Ferrara-Comacchio

  • Cathedral of Ferrara


Diocese of Faenza-Modigliana

  • Cathedral of Faenza
  • Co-Cathedral of Modigliana
  • Church Collegiata di San Michele di Bagnacavallo


Archdiocese of Ravenna-Cervia

  • Cathedral of Ravenna
  • Church of Santa Maria in Porto
  • Opera Santa Teresa di Gesù Bambino

Diocese of Forlì-Bertinoro

  • Cathedral of Forlì
  • Sanctuary of Fornò (only May 2016)
  • Hermitage of S.Antonio in Montepaolo (only June 2016)


Diocese of Cesena-Sarsina

  • Cathedral of Cesena
  • Co- Cathedral of San Vicinio in Sarsina
  • Sanctuary of the Crocifisso di Logniano
  • Abbey of Santa Maria del Monte (Cesena)

Diocese of Rimini

  • Cathedral of Rimini
  • Beata vergine delle Grazie di Montegridolfo
  • Santa Chiara
  • Madonna della Visitazione (Casale San Vito)
  • Madonna di Bonora (Montefiore Conca)
  • Santa Maria delle Grazie in Covignano di Rimini
  • Santa Maria delle Grazie in Fiumicino di Savignano sul Rubicone
  • Hermitage of Saiano (Poggio Torriana)
  • Sanctuary of Santo Amato Ronconi (Saludecio)


Diocese of San Marino - Montefeltro

  • Cathedral of Pennabilli
  • Cathedral of Pennabilli
  • Cathedral of San Leo
  • Sanctuary of the Crocifisso in Talamello (RN)
  • Basilica di San Marino (Rep.S. Marino)
  • Sanctuary of Cuore Immacolato di Maria a Valdragone (Rep.S. Marino)
  • *Sanctuary of the Madonna del Faggio at the Hermitage of Carpegna (PU)
  • *Sanctuary of the Beato Domenico Spadafora in Monte Cerignone (PU)

* These sanctuaries belong administratively to the Marche Region or to the Republic of San Marino, but they are under the ecclesiastical supervision of a diocese that belongs to our Regional Episcopal Conference.





Information provided by Don Tiziano Zoli, regional director of the Tourism Office of the episcopal conference of Emilia Romagna for Tourism-Sport-free time and pilgrimages.

Last modified Dec 13, 2017

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