This is a name that makes you dream! The Path of the Gods is a route that connects Bologna to Florence crossing the entire Apennine range. The gods are the (small) peaks that we come across on the path: Monte Adone (Adonis), Monzuno (Mount Juno or Mount of Jupiter), Monte Venere (Venus)… An easy path but with great variety of landscapes and monuments! The most interesting being undoubtedly the Flaminia Military, a Roman road built thanks to the consul Caio Flaminio in 187 BC, whose current route of the path of the gods more or less follows the route. This road was completely abandoned then rediscovered in the 1970s by two enthusiasts. Today we can see beautiful portions of it preserved intact under the humus over the years!
The canonical direction of the path of the gods is from Bologna to Florence. That said, the first stages of Bologna look quite boring on the map (a day's walk not far from the highway...). So we chose to leave Florence and walk for just three days.
Path of the Gods, day 1: Fiesole, Vetta le Croci, Monte Senario
+ 1000m / – 900m 24km
So here we are, three of us leaving Fiesole on this beautiful spring morning. This village is easily reached from the city center of Florence by bus 7. Moreover, the view of the city with the Dome is overwhelming from the streets of the village.
A few short kilometers of road later, we reach the hill of Poggio Pratone with a nice view of the surrounding Tuscan countryside. The path then becomes prettier and passes through small deciduous woods. A little further away, someone installed a chime in the branches of a tree. The wind makes a little relaxing music sound... It gives a very special atmosphere to the place!
We then cross gentle, very green hills. The yellow buttercups and white prunus flowers add a decidedly spring-like feel to everything!
We stop at the church of Monte Senario to refill with water. Then it's a somewhat long section in beech trees before returning to more pleasant landscapes in the Tuscan style. In the distance stands the barrier of the Apennines which we will cross the next day. In the meantime, the sun starting to set, we pitched the tent shortly after the village of Tagliaferro in a meadow a little off the road. There is an excellent view of the Trebbio castle which will be our first stop the next day…
Day 2: San Piero a Sieve, Schifanoia, Passo dell'Osteria Bruciata
+ 1100m / – 400m 23km
After a hearty breakfast made up of the usual hiking oatmeal, we break camp and move on to Trebbio Castle. It is located on a small hill from where the view of the surrounding countryside is simply majestic!
We then move on to the small village of San Piero a Sieve. This is the opportunity to treat yourself to a nice big cornetto to get your morning dose of sugar. The next part follows a (small) flat road for almost 5km. Needless to say, it's a bit boring... Besides, the Italian name of the neighboring town is... Schifanoia (schifo = ugly, noia = boring)! But the last part has a fantastic view of the Tuscan countryside, with the soft green fields of spring which are a pleasure to see (in the photos the green looks artificial... it is not!).
We then begin the part which takes us into the Apennines proper. The path slowly climbs its 1000m in altitude in a forest composed first of pines then deciduous trees and finally beeches. We arrive at Passo dell'Osteria Bruciata after some panoramic views along the route. The place seems suitable for bivouac but it is too early and we have no water, so we continue towards the nearest source. After recharging, we push on to Mount Gazzaro, one of the highest points of the route (1125m, that's not crazy either).
We find an ideal bivouac spot just before the summit, at the panoramic viewpoint. What's incredible is that the wind blows wildly at the summit, but we are miraculously protected! I'm afraid the wind will change during the night but that won't be the case. We spent a very beautiful evening watching the flamboyant sunset over the entire Apennine range.
Day 3: Passo della Futa, Via Flaminia Militare, Madonna dei Fornelli
+ 850m / – 1600m 28km
Early in the morning we cross the ridge which takes us to the Passo della Futa. There is always a tenacious and icy wind which swirls all the leaves around us, it's pretty but it makes quite a contrast with the heat of the last few days! After the pass, we continue the route on a ridge among the beech trees. In places you can see the Via Flaminia Militare, this Roman road that I talk about in the introduction. It's quite impressive to see such a monument in the middle of nowhere!
After the Banditacce summit, the path becomes more rural. We pass near some farms where the pigs that make the famous Mortadella of Emilia-Romagna are raised. Few breaks on the way because the cold wind is still very present! We eventually arrive at Madonna dei Fornelli, where we can take the first real windless break in the sun of the day.
The Via Degli Dei officially continues towards the village of Monzuno, but we don't have time to reach it in three days. We therefore decide to go down to the San Benedetto Sambro station. We follow a very beautiful path along a torrent which, surprisingly, is not indicated on the OpenStreetMaps map. In fact, it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful stages of this journey! The final part of the descent towards the station at sunset is superb, all large grassy meadows on the mountainside. It almost feels like we're in Austria!
The tiny station is only revealed at the last moment. It's already the end of the hike... What I remember is that in three days of walking we are dealing with a great diversity of landscapes. I have to say that I didn't really expect it!