Hiking Bologna: CAI 902

It’s time to get serious.  Serious about hiking that is.

One of the perks of living in Bologna is that it is surrounded by beautiful hills.  It’s also not far from the Apennine mountains, two National Parks, and 12 Regional Parks. Our schedule over the last few months has been packed and has left little time for hiking near Bologna.  We’ve been travelling a lot, and when we haven’t been travelling, we’ve been spending a good portion of our time in the Bologna Ikea, carrying Ikea purchases down the streets of Bologna, or assembling Ikea furniture.  Thank goodness Ikea offers a decent lunch or we wouldn’t have survived.  But with summer in full swing, it’s time to forget about curtains, plungers, and ice trays, and it’s time to start hiking.

As I was researching hikes near Bologna, I stumbled across CAI 902, an hike that starts just outside the walls of Bologna Centro.  The trail goes from San Michele in Bosco to Parco di Forte Bandiera. Motivated to get off of the computer and on a trail, I met up with my friend Joanna and we set out to see this trail in our backyard.

Description of CAI trail 902

Description:  The trail CAI 902 goes from San Michele in Bosco to Parco di Forte Bandiera.  I would label it an urban hike.  A section of the trail is wooded, but it also brings you through a hospital parking lot and through residential streets in the Bologna hills.  Along the way you get some great views of the Bologna skyline and the hills surrounding Bologna.  If you are looking for total seclusion in nature, this is probably not the hike for you.  But the hike is a great way to spend the afternoon outdoors, especially on a sunny, blue sky day.  It’s a good option for those without a car or the patience to travel an hour or two by bus or train to get to other hikes outside of Bologna.

The trail starts off just behind San Michele in Bosco, which is located in Giardino Remo Scoto.  First, take in the view of the Bologna skyline at San Michele in Bosco.

View of Bologna skyline from San Michele in Bosco

Head down the drive behind the church, where you find a small red & white sign marking the start of the trail.  The beginning of the hike is a little awkward as you walk through the Ospedale Rizzoli parking lot. Keep watch for the red/white bands located on street poles and fences that signal you’re heading the right way.  Part way through the hospital grounds, a marker points you towards a trail in the woods on the right.  You walk through the woods for a bit and then return to the street.  Shortly after, you reach Via San Vittore.  Here you have the option to detour off the route to visit the Cenobio di San Vittore (a monastery).  We attempted to do this, but the Cenobio was closed.  You can check ahead to see if the Cenobio is open when you’ll be hiking.  From the Cenobio, we turned around and went back to the 902 trail the same way we came.  You can also keep walking down San Vittore and meet up with the trail where Via San Vittore ends.  Keep following the red/white trail signs and you’ll reach Parco di Fonte Bandiera.

Red/white strips lead the way

Don’t be fooled by the name of Parco di Forte Bandiera.  There is no fort there (though there once was).  But it is a beautiful and serene park with lots of trees and good views.  You can reach the park by car (but there’s a certain satisfaction you get by walking there).  We saw a handful of people relaxing scattered throughout the park.  Our favorite was an older couple that had come with lounge chairs, bathing suits, and a cooler and were soaking up the afternoon sun.  We found a shady spot, took in the views, and had our snacks.

We decided to walk back to the city center by road rather than repeating the trail path.  We walked down Via di Monte Donato, passed through Monte Donato, and then continued down Via Siepelunga.  We turned left on Via Santa Barbara and wound our way through residential streets until we hit Giardini Margherita.  We strategically ended the hike at Giardini Margherita so that we could stop at the cafe/gelateria (near the Castiglione entrance) for some post-hike refreshments.

Post-hike pesca ghiacciolo (peach popsicle)

Length: About 8.8km (5.4miles). The trail from San Michele in Bosco to Forte Bandiera is 4km (2.5miles) each way.  You have the option to return to the city on the trail (the way you came) or return by road via Monte Donato. We added an additional 1.2km (.75miles) onto our hike with our detour to the Cenobio. But if you keep walking down via San Vittore to its end instead of turning around like we did, the total mileage of the hike shouldn’t change significantly.

Time: 3-4 hours

Map: You can find a map of the trail here.


CAI 902 description from Bologna Welcome (in Italian)

Here is another blog post about CAI 902 (in Italian)

Press release about the opening of CAI 902 in May 2010 (in Italian)

For those who aren’t familiar, CAI is the Club Alpino Italiano, the group responsible for marking many of the hiking trails throughout Italy.


5 thoughts on “Hiking Bologna: CAI 902

  1. Joanna Faso

    It was a fun hike, even if we got a little lost in a parking lot, having to ask the doctors which way to go. I am now researching a few hikes in the hills for our next adventure!

  2. alan & sara

    Hi guys, thanks for sharing this! We jumped in your blog while looking for infos on this hike. We’re from Bologna and we’ll do it soon. if you don’t know it, another amazing hike here around is the “Via degli dei”, which leads from Bologna to Florence via the Appennines in 5 days. Thanks again and have a good stay in Bologna!

    1. ciaobologna Post author

      Ciao, Alan & Sara. Thanks for the tip about the “Via degli dei”. I would love to do something like that while we are in Italia. There’s another new hike near Bologna Centro, CAI 904, which I haven’t done yet. According to the CAI Bologna website (http://bit.ly/QmwKzq), only a short portion of the trail is open now (it just opened on Sept 2nd). They are still working on completing the first part of the trail, and once that section opens, it will only be open Saturday & Sundays. Happy hiking!


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