Bagno di Romagna
A borderland that straddles Romagna and Tuscany, Bagno di Romagna is a thousand-year-old village, famous for its thermal waters since Roman times. It is the gateway to the Casentinesi Forests Park, a temple of slow living, and in 2005 was awarded the “Borgo Arancione” (Orange Village) quality certificate by the Touring Club Italiano.
Dante was certainly familiar with the area between Romagna and Tuscany, which he travelled through as a “fugitive Ghibelline”. The Divine Comedy mentions various places in the Savio Valley, from the sources of the Tiber to Cesena, and numerous local characters, from Guido Novello of the House of Count Guidi, who had various properties in the area of Bagno di Romagna, to Lizio da Valbona, of a noble family from the upper Bidente Valley, or Guido Salvatico, who, according to popular tradition, hosted Dante during his wanderings at the Castello di Vessa, a stop on the Val di Bagno Trek.
The Foreste Casentinesi National Park area is also explicitly mentioned in the Divine Comedy (the Acquacheta waterfalls, in the valley opposite) and was possibly the source of inspiration for the opening Canto of the Divine Comedy.
What is certain is that today it is possible to have the experience of finding oneself “in a dark forest” (Inferno, I 2) by choosing one of the many trails within the Park, 5 thousand hectares of which are in the Municipality of Bagno di Romagna. Take for example the Pietrapazza valley, one of the main entrances to the Park, with its little ancient worlds of abandoned but well-preserved churches, mills and cemeteries, which testify to the tenacity of the mountain people who inhabited them up until the 1960s.
From the small Comero lakes (Lago Pontini, Lago Lungo and Lago Acquapartita) to the Path of the Gnomes, from the palaces designed by the Florentine rulers to the inns and starred restaurants, in Bagno di Romagna you can breathe in the atmosphere of a welcoming and hospitable village which is ready to welcome you.
Spas, the pleasant side of keeping healthy
The ancient Romans were the first to recognise the healing properties of the hot waters of Bagno di Romagna. Around 266 BC, they built a temple and a popular spa complex on the springs, which is mentioned in Martial’s epigrams.
Today, if your aim is to feel relaxed and rejuvenated, Bagno di Romagna is the right place for you. The Grand Hotel Terme Roseo, the Hotel delle Terme Santa Agnese and the Ròseo Euroterme Wellness Resort are four-star hotels and medical facilities where water provides an all-round experience of well-being, health and relaxation.
The thermal waters of Bagno are formed from rain that fell 10,000 years ago and which, over the millennia, has heated up and then resurfaced, enriched with natural active elements with curative powers. For this reason, they are excellent for the health of the bones, the vascular system, the respiratory system , the gastrointestinal system and can help with diabetes and cholesterol. A true miracle of nature!
And just as the waters of Bagno provides benefits to today’s travellers, so the waters of the rivers of Purgatory crossed by Dante had healing virtues for the spirit. While the Lethe purged sins from memory, Dante speaks of emerging regenerated from the Eunoe, “remade, as new trees are / renewed when they bring forth new boughs, I was / pure and prepared to climb unto the stars” (Purgatorio XXXIII). Who knows, perhaps even Dante himself experienced the healing power of thermal waters!
Foreste Casentinesi National Park and Sasso Fratino Integral Reserve
Dante’s “dark forest” was probably inspired by the land the poet crossed several times as a “fugitive Ghibelline”, that territory between Romagna and Tuscany which is now the National Park of Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona and Campigna, an area of about 36,000 hectares equally divided between the two regions.
Characterised by villages rich in history that offer visitors wonderful natural surroundings, rich in animal and plant species, the Park can be explored in all seasons with pleasant excursions possible on foot, by mountain bike or on horseback, along a network of approximately 600 km of trails.
The territory of Bagno di Romagna encompasses the Sasso Fratino Integral Nature Reserve, the first to be established in Italy (1959), which, since 2017, has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site owing to its precious 500-year-old forests. Here the nature conservation is conceived in its entirety (flora, fauna, rocks, soil, water) and no forestry activities are practised. The aim of the reserve is integral conservation for scientific purposes, a pearl to be guarded and admired, to be “looked at but not touched”.
The Ridracoli Dam
In one of the most evocative natural landscapes in Italy stands the Ridracoli dam, a cutting edge piece of engineering, but also an example of perfect balance between the work of human beings and the protected area of the Foreste Casentinesi National Park that surrounds it.
Do not miss the experience of the electric boat trip on the lake or the guided canoe trip, accompanied by an expert instructor. For those who love cycling, it is possible to rent an e-bike and explore the vast surrounding area, while those who prefer hiking can take an easy walk on the top of the dam or in the woods, up to the Cà di Sopra refuge, perhaps stopping for a picnic by the lake.
The visit to the “IDRO – Ecomuseum of the Waters of Ridracoli” is also very interesting, where the precious waters and the territory of the Park are described from a technological, landscape and naturalistic point of view, with an interactive approach that ranges from hands-on to virtual experiences.
The Path of the Gnomes
Leave your scepticism aside and immerse yourself in the realm of fantasy: just cross the little bridge over the river Savio, near the public gardens a few steps from the village square, and you enter the Sentiero degli Gnomi (Path of Gnomes), a path about two kilometres long in the woods where you can come into contact with nature and the magical world of the gnomes.
The path is easy-going, punctuated by bridges, signs, stone sculptures, silhouettes of animals and wooden huts, including a post box where children can leave messages for their Gnome friends (who always reply to everyone!). At the top, in the Gnome Glade, you can sit on wooden seats and admire this splendid fantasy realm, and just maybe – who knows – meet the Gnome Savio, the Fairy Sfoglina and their friends.
There are many playful and relaxing experiences waiting for you on the trail: you can take part in the treasure hunt and the Gnomes’ picnic, walk barefoot in nature, explore the forest like in a fairy tale, and, on summer evenings, experience the Walk in the Magic Forest: a path made of light, music and poetry.
The gnomes are waiting for you in Bagno di Romagna!
Typical food and wine products
In Bagno di Romagna, Romagna gastronomy (lasagna, tagliatelle, tortellini, passatelli, piadina, ravioli…) is combined with the more sober traditions of Tuscany (meats, salami, crostini…), creating unforgettable culinary experiences that can be enjoyed both in the family-run trattorias scattered throughout the area and in the most refined and prestigious establishments (some with Michelin stars).
The most distinctive dishes are based on local and seasonal products: porcini mushrooms, chestnuts, black and white truffles, sausages and hams, game, artisanal honey and chocolate, along with mature or fresh cheeses. Among the latter there is raviggiolo DOP, a sublime raw cheese which is white and soft, and to be enjoyed very fresh.
Among the creations in the kitchen, the chestnut, bean and potato soup is tasty; unique are the basotti, special tagliolini baked in broth; the unique dish of tortelli nella lastra, filled with herbs or potatoes, is ingenious, economical and distinctive; in addition there are the focaccia bagnese, the castagnaccio and the lattaiolo, which are all worth trying.
Do not miss the autumn food festivals, when flavours explode on the streets of the villages of Selvapiana and Bagno di Romagna, surrounded by the colourful spectacle of the autumnal foliage.
Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta and the Sacred Art Museum
In the heart of Bagno di Romagna, in the historic centre, stands the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Assumption, first documented as early as 861 AD. The single-nave building with seven chapels on each side has a Romanesque portal with columns, which was rediscovered during the restoration of the 1960s and which the Renaissance portal had been constructed over.
The Basilica is unique in the area known as the “Tuscan Romagna”. Its altars contain precious works of art from the Florentine Renaissance period, among which we can admire: The Triptych by Neri di Bicci (dating back to 1468, located in the centre of the apse), the statue of Santa Agnese, the Madonna and Child (also known as the Madonna of the Rose), the entire Salvetti Chapel (by Michele Tosini, known as Michele di Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio).
The Basilica is the heart of the Museum of Sacred Art, an exhibition itinerary that includes the Rectory House of the Parish of Bagno di Romagna and the Oratory of the Madonna del Carmine. The museum holds more than 200 valuable, old and rare paintings and furnishings. The collection was conceived by Monsignor Alfiero Rossi, parish priest of Bagno di Romagna, who has been collecting and enhancing local artistic and cultural heritage since 1966.
Palazzo del Capitano
If you feel like you are in Tuscany while walking through the streets of Bagno di Romagna, do not be surprised. The long relationship these places have had with Florence can still be felt in the atmosphere, the architecture, the churches and institutional buildings.
The most important of these is the Palazzo del Capitano with its unmistakable façade adorned with more than 70 coats of arms, which were brought back to life in 2003 and which take us back to the time when the Captains sealed their mandate in the Val di Bagno by placing an emblem on the building.
Today the palace is the centre of the cultural life of Bagno and the symbol of its hospitality, with the headquarters of the Tourist Information Office, the Visitor Centre of the Foreste Casentinesi National Park, the Library and the Municipal Historical Archives.
Corzano: Fortress, hermitage, mule track
On the round hill of Corzano, an oasis of greenery and silence behind San Piero in Bagno, are the remains of a castle (parts of the polygonal curtain wall, cistern and the foundations of the fortress), and a small elegant sanctuary, extended over the course of the 19th century to venerate the image of the “Madonna and Child”, depicted in a 15th-century fresco inside a small church in the ruins of the castle: called upon by the people in 1835 to calm strong earthquakes, today it is still strongly honoured by the local population.
These places encapsulate the identity and history of San Piero in Bagno: a village and community, which has maintained close ties with the hill at the foot of which it was built in the Middle Ages.
The medieval mule track, which, like an umbilical cord, connects the village to the top of the hill, was completely rebuilt and restored by the local “Il Faro di Corzano” association a few years ago. The route is punctuated by 14 large bronze Stations of the Cross (1990) by the artist Carmelo Puzzolo (a native of San Piero in Bagno), identical to those the same artist made for Mount Krizevac at the shrine in Medjugorje.
The Chiardovo spring
Just outside the centre of Bagno di Romagna, a pleasant and romantic walk through nature leads to the Chiardovo Spring, where cold thermal water (sulphurous-bicarbonate, oligomineral) gushes out with a characteristic eggy smell, well known for its benefits for mild gastrointestinal disorders.
The lime tree-shaded avenue leading to the spring was built in 1936 and is about a kilometre long, bordered by the cool waters of the Volanello stream, which flows through tilled fields and vegetable gardens.
Paved and closed off to traffic, it is a route suitable for everyone, at a healthy, relaxing place, surrounded by greenery and coolness, dotted with benches and a rest area with tables, the Crisolini Park.
The route is also accessible at night thanks to lighting along the entire stretch, and on cool summer evenings you can enjoy the walk in the company of fireflies, an experience not to be missed.