Did you know there are 130km of ancient pathways that connect the city of Bologna with Florence, Italy? The path takes 5-8 days to complete from start to finish, taking you from the Italian region of Emilia Romagna to Tuscany.
The Italian outdoors is full of natural beauty. With hiking trail trips becoming more popular amongst tourists visiting Italy, we decided to pack our hiking boots and take on the challenge that is the Path of Gods, Italy.
This hiking route is called the 'Via Degli Dei', which translates as the Path of Gods Italy. Based on our amazing adventure along this route, Travel Dudes will take you along the path every step of the way in this helpful and informative travel guide.
Before you depart along the Path of Gods, spend some time in Bologna
Many experienced hikers traversing the Path of Gods complete the hike in five days, and it's possible to combine some of our recommended route days to cut down on time.
This is totally down to your preference, and we wanted to offer as many alternatives as possible for different levels of hikers.
Why not spend a few days in Bologna before or after your hike, and enjoy the city over a weekend?
Bologna has a lot to offer visitors and can be a great combo option to enjoy hiking as well as a city break all in one holiday.
For our first few nights in Bologna we stayed at Hotel Internazionale, which has a great location for walking around the city by foot.
Much of the main areas of the city are closed off to cars on the weekend, making it a great place to explore on foot.
Head up to the top of the two towers for an iconic overlook of the city from above, and catch a brief glimpse of the foothills you will be walking over the coming days.
You can find a market at the Piazza Santo Stefano every 1st Sunday of the month that takes over the city - you can find all sorts of historical treasures and artworks to take home with you.
Be sure to walk around the Piazza Maggiore and dine at Ristorante Al Voltone to try a taste of local cuisine from the region of Emilia Romagna, famous around Italy and the world.
Here you can try freshly sliced mortadella, chunks of Parmigiano aged for 42 months and drizzled in aged balsamico, followed by a bottle of sparkling Lambrusco to polish off the evening.
Read about more restaurants to visit in Bologna.
Take a few days before or after your hike to take in what Bologna has to offer.
Do you need a hiking guide for the Path of Gods?
We booked a guide for our trip through a local company based in Emilia Romagna - Appennino Slow. Their guides specialise in the Via Degli Dei route, as well as other hiking paths around the region.
This is how we connected with our local guide Gianluca Maini who works as a freelancer for the company.
He was full of knowledge about the Path of Gods route, and offered so much information along the path - he has done the route himself many times.
It was a wonderful bonus to have him along with us, and made hiking more enjoyable as the path come to life with his expertise.
A hiking guide is optional, but we wanted to take some time to recommend Gianluca Maini who was fantastic throughout the whole hike and made the trip for us.
If you're seeking guidance and company for your trip, we would highly recommend him as your go-to hiking guide.
Pick up your Path of Gods map at the Bologna Welcome Visitor Centre
The starting point of the Path Of Gods is in Bologna. When you're in the city you should head towards Piazza Maggiore where you will find the Bologna Welcome visitor office. Here you can collect all the information you will need for the Via Degli Dei.
For €13 you can pick up your route map, information booklet (all in English) and your Path of Gods Pilgrim's Credential booklet which acts as your stamp collection book to mark the check points that you will collect along the way from the guest houses.
Be sure to register and collect your first stamp at the the Bologna Welcome office to officially start your journey along the Path of Gods.
Transport options to Bologna
To start the Path of Gods trail, we would definitely recommend heading to Bologna as the trail is more enjoyable starting from this end - the decline is downhill so the route pans out better for hiking.
Bologna International Airport has several daily flights from the UK and Germany, and offers many transport options for travellers. The airport is located pretty close the city and will take you around 30 minutes by taxi.
Florence doesn't have a well-served international airport, so many tourists fly from Pisa instead.
Florence to Bologna is serviced by a high-speed rail network, and the journey time takes around 35 minutes (which is funny when you think about the fact that you will be spending 5 days walking this route!).
These are some of the reasons that we would recommend flying in and out of Bologna International Airport, as you have more options from there making your trip easier.
You can also take a train from Munich to Bologna if you're based in Germany and don't fancy flying. Flixbus is also another great option from Bologna to all over Europe by bus.
Water and supplies along the Path of Gods
We found that it was easy to access water throughout the hike, and many brand new water taps have been installed along the trail to make it easier for hikers on the Path of Gods.
For food we stocked up on snacks in Bologna (mostly with Alce Nero for the hike & Majani for the sweet touch) which lasted us all along the length of the trail, and planned our breakfast and dinner stops for guest houses along the route.
If you're looking for a nice water bottle to use on the hike and take home, be sure to check out local company 24 Bottles - their Clima model keeps your water cool for 24 hours and is perfect for hiking.
Staying connected along the route
Disconnect from Wi-Fi and rather connect to the stunning nature along the Path of Gods.
For those who want to remain connected to the outside world, our mobile signal was on and off along the route with patchy areas - but you can locate a solid 3G connection at some points, especially at the guest houses (which is always a good thing for when you want to upload some of your beautiful shots!).
For EU guests, you can use the Roam Like Home data service whilst in Italy. For those from outside the EU, you could look into hiring a daily hotspot for your hiking group and split the costs between you. Skyroam Solis can connect up to 5 devices, and could be a good solution for your trip if you need to stay connected.
Luggage transfer service along the Path of Gods
One advantage of booking your hike through Appennino Slow is that they can arrange for your baggage to be transferred, as well as hotel bookings along the Path of Gods.
This means each morning along the trail, you can prepare a day pack with your lunch, bottle water, map, as well as other important daily essentials and have your bigger bags transported from guest house to guest house along the route.
This is a growing and popular indulgence amongst hiking routes in Europe, and is a great service to use if you fancy lightening your load. It saves having to lug all your gear along every step of the way, leaving you to focus on the hiking at hand each day.
We found this baggage service to be flawless, and a wonderful addition to the trip. Every morning without fail our bags were transported and were waiting for us at our next guest house. Isn't it a great time to be hiking!
The Path of Gods Italy has become easier in recent years
The Path of Gods (or Via Degli Dei) starting from Bologna has been popular for a few decades amongst local trail runners, who wanted to create a route from Bologna to Florence connecting the two regions. But the path itself was created in the late ‘80s by a group of Bolognese hikers. The path mainly traces the ancient tracks where Etruscans, Romans (and late in the medieval times) passed by and it also crosses some precious and fine basolato (i.e. The paving using the large paving-stones known as basoli) of the Roman Road, which got now rediscovered.
The hiking route is popular amongst locals and many Italians too.
A few years ago a better trail structure was put into place, and new sign posts have been installed to help hikers and support international tourism along the route.
This guide will help visitors navigate the Path of Gods, along with new infrastructure that has been put into place to tell more people about this incredible hiking adventure.
So if you're up for a challenge, we hope that this new guide to the Path of Gods will inspire you to take it on and hike from Bologna to Florence.
Get hiking, enjoy the nature around you, and make the most out of this incredible ancient hiking route that has been around for thousands of years.
Remember to keep an eye out for the iconic red and white numbered signs that mark the trail, and also signs that have the marked engravings of BO-FI - then you know for sure you're on the right track.
Here is our day-to-day guide of hiking the Path of Gods Italy:
Usually the hike is 5 days long. We decided to add an extra 3 days, so that we could include some extra local highlights and activities. Beneath our listing, we'll add an extra section, if you are interested to do it in 5 days... though we would recommend to not miss on the extra fun.
Day One: Time to say goodbye to Bologna and hello to the Path of Gods
Distance today: 7km
Today you start your journey along the Path of Gods, starting at Piazza Maggiore.
Make your way towards the Via Saragozza - a walkway held under a collection of 666 archways that lead from the city all the way up to Sanctuary San Luca.
The archways were created to help with a housing shortage for the ever-growing student population in Bologna, but still allow a walkway for the general public to use around the city creating one of the largest archway networks in Europe.
The route is long and steep, and popular on the weekends for locals who want to keep in shape. Some locals do the hike to the top if they asked Mother Mary for a blessing and felt their prayer was answered.
This is a pretty extreme way to start the Path of Gods, but a great way to explore a unique part of Bologna.
Sanctuary San Luca located at the top is considered by many of the locals from Bologna as the ending point of the city.
When they spot this iconic construction from the highway, it's a sign that you're back home in Bologna.
It's fitting that this is the last iconic landmark that we see as we leave and say goodbye to Bologna city, as we start along the first day of the Path of Gods towards Florence.
Next you will walk along Bregoli's Path which is a lovely park setting, and perfect for a day trip from Bologna whilst you stumble across Chiusa di Casalecchio - a quiet and cute little lock along the path. This is the oldest hydraulic work in Europe still working – in continuous and uninterrupted function. And it is the symbol of energy that allowed the city of Bologna and its plain to grow up economically. Its importance increased at the end of 2010 when it was included into the list of UNESCO 2000-2010 heritage messengers programme as a symbol of the culture of peace in favour of young people.
After all those steps you will have built up a hunger by now, so be sure to stop off at Cantina Floriano Cinti, a vineyard along the Path of Gods that specialises in local cuisine from the region with wine to pair with each course. They're most popular for their cask white wines.
Fancy getting dirty? Why not discover a Roman aqueduct. Jump into your caving gear and walk through a deep tunnel of caves that will lead you to a huge Roman aqueduct - just one of the many additional activities you can take part in along the Path of Gods.
Tonight we stayed at Hotel Ca Vecchia, and drove into the town Sasso Marconi for dinner at Osteria dei Sani who offered very generous pasta portions and local hospitality. Perfect after a day of hiking.
Day Two: The toughest climb along the Path of Gods to the top of Mount Adonis
Distance today: 7km
Not the longest day today, but for sure one of the hardest as you will do! This is the steepest climb along the trail up to Mount Adonis.
Be sure to pack a lunch as you will want to relax and enjoy the scenery up the top of Mount Adonis.
We thought that this was the most stunning viewpoint along the trail, which is saying something to be sure. The hardest climb but the best reward awaits for you at the top.
The mountains have an unusual look to them, as they have been carved out and eroded over hundreds of years by a unique wind formation which makes this a very popular spot for mountain climbing.
Be sure to keep an eye open to see if you can spot anyone bouldering their way to the top.
A possible side excursion on this part of the trail is to go on a guided tour of the Rocchetta Mattel - a lavish fortress located on the Northern Apennines on a hill 407 meters above sea level.
Built in the second half of the nineteenth century, this castle blends a collection of eclectic architectural styles from Medieval to Moorish.
The building served as a home for the flamboyant Count Cesare Mattei who was a writer, politician and most famous for his work as a doctor and his interest in botany.
His grounds also served as a courtyard to grow his plants used to create medicines, and help to cure the sick from all walks of life.
Be sure to take the guided tour as you can discover many interesting and fascinating stories about the Count and his beloved fortress. It's really a sight to be seen.
Be sure to book your tour in advance, as spots are limited. You should also stop by the nearby church which was designed by celebrated Finnish architect Alvar Aalto and can be seen along the way.
Guesthouse Agrotorismo Prunara is a family-run establishment, and is definitely worth a stay for the night. This guesthouse offers a wonderful dining experience, with incredible beef dishes created with Argentinian methods.
See if you can beat the owner at table football, he is pretty good at it! We would also recommend enjoying the lovely homemade Lambrusco from the owner's father's recipe. It's worth taking a bottle with you for the next day to enjoy again.
Day Three: Time to jump on your bike to Monzuno
Distance today: 8.5km (6km by bike)
Hiking is not the only way to get along the Path of Gods Italy. You can also travel the trail with other alternatives, such as on a mountain bike.
So why not rent a bike for the day and complete a section of the path by bicycle? This is a fun section to cycle, as the hills mostly will take you down smoothly and you can catch up on time along this part.
As you make your way to Monzuno you will start to notice the endless chestnut trees that have been planted along this part of the trail - many local dishes use chestnut as an ingredient in the regional cooking of the area. It can be used for many delicious things.
After a day of hiking and cycling, why not try a spot of orienteering near Pian di Balestra with orienteering guides Polisportiva Masi. Your guides will help you improve your map reading, and add a lot of fun to your day. We found this a really great and educational way to explore this stunning forest land.
B&B Romani is an iconic place to stay along the Path of Gods. You simply have to book a room here just for the warm welcome and hospitality of the lovely and wonderful owner, who is passionate about hosting hikers of the Via Degli Dei.
She puts her heart, soul and passion into the food that she grows and cooks from her garden, as well as making sure everyone feels right at home. You would be silly not to stay here. Oh did I mention they have a hot tub as well?
Day Four: Take the day off and relax at Lake Suviana
Distance today: 0km
We took a break from the Path of Gods this day to try something a little different.
A short drive away from Madonna dei Fornelli you will find Lake Suviana, a relaxing lake that has a fantastic watersport activities company called Centro Velico Lago di Suviana Sailing Centre.
With them you can go sailing, kayaking, windsurfing or standup paddle boarding. Or, why not kick back, relax and enjoy the sun and try a spot of swimming.
After a few days of hiking, it's nice to take a chilled out day and rest before the big days ahead.
Be sure to grab lunch at Al Porancé which is half way between Lake Suviana and Madonna dei Fornelli. They offer amazing meat and cheese boards, followed by pasta dishes and sparkling wine. This is a really nice spot to enjoy some Italian cuisine.
Day Five: Walk like the Romans along this section of the ancient roads
Distance today: 10km
If you can summon up the energy to wake up at 05:00am, you could enjoy a breathtaking sunrise in the Savena Valley from Monte Galletto. This is a good day for a great viewpoint over the valleys of Pian di Balestra.
It's time to say goodbye to Madonna dei Fornelli and B&B Romani, to head back on to the Path of Gods.
Along the path today you will approach the border crossing as you leave the region of Emilia Romagna into Tuscany.
Be sure to take a photo of the iconic landmark at the border. You will find an official and an unofficial signpost for this point. I prefer the homemade unofficial one personally. Each to their own!
Today is the section where we will start to discover parts of the ancient Roman roads. You can pick up a helpful guide for this section from B&B Romani that will help to explain this part in more detail.
The history of the Via Degli Dei dates back to the 90s, when trail runners liked to use the route to connect Bologna to Florence.
With the signposts and official publicity it has grown in popularity. The original idea of the route was to avoid as many modern roads as possible.
This route also happens to pass by an idea the Romans had thousands of years ago - they built a road connecting Bologna to Florence which now happens to cross over with the Path of Gods.
This is a wonderful section of the path to walk, as you're literally walking on parts of an ancient road that is full of history, lasting since its planned construction in 187 B.C.
The Flaminia Military - an ancient Roman path in this region - was discovered in the 70s by Cesare Agostini and Franco Santi who found an old Roman coin along the path and started to dig.
They spent around 20 years unearthing sections of the Roman path, and you still enjoy sections of this unearthed path today along the Path of Gods. Have fun walking along history!
You will as well cross parts of the Gothic Line which was a defensive line built by the German army during WWII. The line passes by the nearby German military cemetery which contains 33,000 graves and is the largest German cemetery in Italy. It's a sombre reminder of the consequences that war can create.
Now it's time to hang up your hiking boots for a day and enjoy a luxury Tuscany homestay at Podere Belvedere. This place is beautifully fitted with Tuscany design, and a gorgeous landscape to boot.
The pool here is a highly welcomed activity after a long day of hiking and the food served here is all locally sourced right from Tuscany. Be sure to dine outside and enjoy the best seat in the house, watching a classic Tuscany sunset.
Day Six: Cheese, cheese and more cheese
Distance today: 15km
Today is the second longest day along the Path of Gods trail as we did it - and you've almost made it to Florence, the final stop along the route.
Along this part of the Path of Gods you will find a cheese factory called Bacciotti which is popular in region. They use milk from local sheep to craft their tasty cheese. Hikers are welcome to pop in to have lunch and learn more about the farm.
Next you can stop off at Convento di Bosco ai Frati, which was rebuilt on the request of the de' Medici family.
Many family members of the Medici family donated gifts to the convent over the years. And then there is the precious wooden crucifix attributed to Donatello, which happens to be the only crucifix representing a naked Jesus accepted by the Catholic church.
Tonight we stayed at B&B La Pieve, which is a friendly-family run place with a great location and a pretty view of the town and surrounding church.
You might have spotted stickers along the Path of Gods advertising a popular pizzeria called Da Bonaugo. Here is your chance to try their famous pizza for yourself in San Piero A Sieve.
Hikers along the Path of Gods are welcome here with open arms, and the owner has even walked the path himself and might have a surprise gift for you.
If you haven't managed to get your cheese fix yet, then be sure to try the signature pizza called the Da Bonaugo which has chunks of Bacciotti cheese on top, so nice.
Day Seven: Time to see Tuscany
Distance today: 18,5km
Today will be the longest section of the path you walk, so it's advisable to wake up as early as you can to get a good head start and avoid spending time in the heat of the day.
Along this section you will view many distinctive Tuscany landscapes, with olive trees and neatly lined vineyards.
Once you make it to Monte Senario (a monastery located up on the top of the hill) be sure to spend some time trying the homemade spirits that can be found here.
It's said that this spirit has healing powers, and we have to vouch for that after taking a shot ourselves! It went right up our noses and cleaned it right out. How's that for healing powers!
You will also come across a section of road before your final distance that is often used for car commercials, as the scenic landscapes and windy roads compliment each other visually.
You will also start to spot visitors renting classic Italian cars, making the most out of this rare opportunity to drive a glamorous car in a beautiful vista.
Be sure to stop off at the official Via Degli Dei selfie spots (which can be found close to the end of the day) to capture that stunning scenery in your back drop and share a moment with your friends.
You will be happy to see Hotel Dino when you arrive, and grab a beer as soon as you check in to enjoy the view of Florence from a distance. You'll have earned it too, as well as all the pasta dishes which will be coming your way in the evening when you dine.
Day eight: Final stage towards Fiesole
Distance today: 8km
Many hikers like to keep going on their final day, and combine day seven and day eight together to make the route shorter.
Personally, day seven can be the toughest day so it's nice to stop at Hotel Dino, enjoy a sunset over Florence from a distance, dine, refresh and make the most out of the sunlight in the morning.
You've almost completed the Path of Gods, just one more day. This is the part of the trail when you start to see the city of Florence closer as you reach the end of the path.
You will start to see local mountain bikers using the final stage of the trail on their days off. The hill is popular as it's easy to access from Florence, so be sure to keep this in mind and share the path as it can be rocky and dangerous if you don't stay alert. That would not be a fun end to your path!
The Path of Gods finishes at Fiesole, which offers a fantastic overview of the city of Florence from the hills above. It's a brilliant reward after such a long hike.
Take in the view as a reward, stop for a moment, and grab lunch here to celebrate. Congratulations - you've just completed the Path of Gods Italy!
It's funny to notice as you start to reach Florence that it feels like you're truly returning to civilisation. After being on the path for so long, walking to the city might seem crazy with all the local public bus options you could take - but it just wouldn't seem right would it?
You've gone all this way, what's a quick 50 minute walk to the city? And that's exactly what these ancient paths teach you about life, to enjoy it in the slow lane for a change and appreciate what we have around us.
We promise we didn't take the bus. But we did take that high-speed train back to Bologna, that's for sure.
Overview of a 5 day Path of Gods option:
Bologna – Badolo
Distance: 22 km
Vertical meter: 850
Journey time: 7h30min
Badolo - Madonna dei Fornelli
Distance: 28 km
Vertical meter: 1600
Journey time: 9h30min
Madonna dei Fornelli – Monte di Fò
Distance: 18 km
Vertical meter: 750
Journey time: 6hours
Monte di Fò – San Piero a Sieve
Distance: 22 km
Vertical meter: 650
Journey time: 6h30min
San Piero a Sieve - Firenze
Distance: 35 km
Vertical meter: 1400
Journey time: 11hours
(you can have a break in Olmo or in Fiesole)
You also find a good and helpful overview on the official page: viadeglidei.it
And the Bologna tourism board also offers this hike as an organized tour: bolognawelcome.com/en/home/find-book/hiking-among-the-gods
Best time to walk the Path of Gods in Italy:
The path is open all year long, but particular attention must be paid during the summer (high temperature) and winter (low temperature and snow) periods.
Quick weather guide:
January: cold, there might be snow on hills and mountains.
February: cold, there might be snow on hills and mountains.
March: warm days, cold nights but be careful as there might be snow on hills and mountains.
April: warm days and cold nights. A great time to walk.
May: warm days and warm night. A great time to walk.
June: the perfect time to walk.
July: very hot
August: very hot during the day but chilly nights.
September: warm days and warm nights: a great time to walk.
October: a great time to walk. Warm days at the start of the month, cold nights. It might be rainy.
November: cold days and cold nights. It might be rainy.
December: cold and wet. It might be snowy.
Thank you for joining us along the Path of Gods
It's been a pleasure having you hiking with us, the Travel Dudes team along the Path of Gods Italy, 130km from Bologna to Florence!
We hope you've enjoyed the video, and find this guide helpful to plan your own adventure along the trail.
It's an epic adventure just waiting to be discovered, and we hope that you can share your own memories with us if you happen to take on the challenge.
For us our favourite memories along the trail were the ones we shared with the locals at guesthouses, and other hikers we bumped into along the trail.
Be sure to checkout the hashtag to discover our social media content along the way: #PathofGodsItaly. Also share with us on Twitter your own pictures and keep us up to date with your progress.
Travel tip shared by Dave for Travel Dudes