Hiking Bologna: Parco Storico di Monte Sole

As I mentioned in my last post, Luke and I have been trying to spend less time at Ikea and more time hiking around Bologna. So we pulled out a map (okay, Google Maps on our iPhones), picked out a Regional Park nearby, and jumped in the car.  We ended up heading to Parco Storico di Monte Sole.

At Parco di Monte Sole, we found what we were looking for.  A nice day.  Peaceful surroundings.  Hills to hike.  Good views.

But we were met with much more.  We also found a touching memorial, a history lesson, and a reminder about the involvement of Italian soil in WWII.

As we learned along the course of our hike, Parco di Monte Sole was the site of the biggest civilian massacre in Italy during World War II.  Between September 29th and October 5th in 1944, over 770 people were killed around Monte Sole as the Germans took action to rid the region of rebel influences.  Most of the victims were women, children, or elderly people.  Many of the sites along the hiking trails in Monte Sole were significant sites during the massacre of 1944. Others serve as memorials for those who fought for Italy’s freedom.

Our Hike

Description: The route we took was mostly sites from the Memorial Itinerary.  We started at Il Poggiolo Visitors Center, walked past Caprara di Sotto, hiked up/down Monte Caprara, and hiked up/down Monte Sole.  You could easily ascend/descend each mountain in 40 minutes or less.  From Monte Sole, we visited the Chiesa di Casaglia and the Cimitero di Casaglia.  Then we turned back towards the Visitors Center passing Caprara di Sopra and Caprara di Sotto on our return.  With the map from the Visitors Center and the signs along the trail, we were easily able to make up the hike on the fly.

View from Monte Caprara. During WWII, Monte Caprara was occupied by the Germans. On the mountain, you can still see the remains of trenches from WWII. The trail sign warns to stay on the designated path because there could still be active mines in the area.

Memorial at the top of Monte Sole. It reads “Eternal glory to the partisans who on these mountains sacrificed their lives for the freedom and independence of Italy.” And “Imperishable memory of the men, women, and children, innocent victims of the cruelty and hatred of the Nazi”

La Chiesa di Casaglia. On September 29, 1944, about ninety people, mostly women and children gathered in this church. When the Germans arrived, they killed several people inside the church, including the priest, and brought the rest of the people to the nearby cemetery to be executed.

Cimitero di Casaglia. This is the site where those who fled the Chiesa di Casaglia were executed. You can see gunshots in the metal crosses.

Length: I’m estimating about 4 miles, but we weren’t keeping track of our mileage.

Time: This route took us about 4 hours with a long break for lunch and plenty of stops for water, photos, and reading the Memorial signs along the path.

Distance from Bologna: The Parco Storico di Monte Sole is about 40 minutes from Bologna by car.

Map:

This is a section of the map we received at the Visitors Center. We started at Poggiolo (the one with the red bulls eye). Then we hiked Caprara di Sotto – Monte Caprara – Monte Sole – Chiesa di Casaglia – Cimitero di Casaglia – Caprara di Sopra – Caprara di Sotto – Poggiolo (where we started)

Other Details & Resources

Visitors Center: Upon arriving, we stopped by the Visitors Center, Il Poggiolo, at Via San Martino 25.  In addition to being the Visitors Center, Il Poggiolo is also a hotel and restaurant.  The woman working in the restaurant gave us a map of the park, some educational brochures, a DVD about the park’s history, as well as some tips on what to see.

Itineraries: The park’s sites are categorized by six different itineraries (Memoriale, Naturalistico, Etrusco, Morandiano, and Montovolo).  The Memorial Itinerary is the core of the park.  Some sites you can visit by car, bike, or horse.  Others can only be reached by foot. See the park website for details.

Wikipedia page about the Marzabotto massacre

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5 thoughts on “Hiking Bologna: Parco Storico di Monte Sole

  1. Pingback: SEEING THE WORLD THROUGH BOOKS » Blog Archive » Valerio Massimo Manfredi–A WINTER’S NIGHT

  2. Estelle Smith

    Hello Audrey and Luke
    I am looking for advice please.
    I am taking 44 high school students to the Marzabotto area in July 2014. We shall be visiting the South African Cemetery in Castiglione dei Pepolei but would also like to see some remains of the massacres. (South African soldiers actually freed some of the victims in 1944.)
    Will one be able to get to, or get close by- within walking distance of Chiesa and cimeterodi Casaglia?
    We will only have 4 hours in total in the area and then drive on to Firenze – so we will be able to do a small,bit of hiking.
    WHAT do you suggest?
    In the past on my tours I have taken kids to Oradour sur Glane in France where a similar massacre took place and it is always very touching to see the teenagers react to this type of history. In the Marzabotto case it is even closer to us. My own uncle is buried in Castiglione in the SA cemetery.
    Looking forward hearing from you and ANY advice will be great.
    Thanks
    Estelle

    Reply
    1. ciaobologna Post author

      Hi Estelle! If my memory serves me correctly, you can drive very close to the Chiesa di Casaglia and the Cemetery (maybe even right up to them). To be sure, you can contact the park at segreteria [at] parcostoricomontesole [dot] it. I agree it would be a very touching trip for the students and the park has some beautiful scenery to boot.

      Reply
      1. Estelle Smith

        Thanks very much for the info! I will mail them immediately. Unfortunately the park’s web site had an error and cannot open.
        regards
        Estelle

      2. Estelle Smith

        Hello again! I tried to send an email but it bounced right back – something wrong with the emailaddress?
        Any other advice how to contact them?
        Estelle

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