Photo © Romea Strata

The Romea Strata, a pilgrimage among the beauties of the Apennine

The Romea Strata rediscovers a historic path that for over 12 centuries has been connecting Northern Italy and Central Europe with Rome, crossing the Po Valley and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine. The main feature of the path has always been the Abbey of Nonantola, which, together with Cluny and Canterbury, was one of the most important and powerful Benedictine abbeys in Europe. Indeed, it was an obligatory passage for popes, emperors, armies, merchants, and, above all, pilgrims.

Nowadays, the pilgrim of the 21st century reaches the Pistoiese Appennine through the Romea Strata-Nonantola-Longobarda: from Fanano the path climbs up to Capanno Tassoni, Cutigliano, Pontepetri, Pistoia and from there you can continue to San Miniato where the path intersects the Via Francigena. There are many monuments that you can admire during the path. In Fanano, you can see the church of St. James, the village of Ospitale, and the Croce Arcana pass. In Cutigliano, there is the church of St. Bartholomew. In San Marcello, you will find the parish church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Finally, in Pistoia, you can visit – among the other things – the cathedral with the relics of Sts. James and Zeno, the “Ospedale del Ceppo”, and the church of Sts. Andrew and Bartholomew.

Beyond the important architectural and religious monuments, the real icing on the cake for those who decide to walk this path is the unquestionable charm of the landscape of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine. Thick woods, the purest streams, breath-taking ridges: an unforgettable view for those who choose a slow tourism in contact with nature, the beauties of the landscape and the possibility to benefit from a top-quality gastronomic offer, with many genuine products of the area.

Punti di interesse

The main points of interest are the three stages that cross the ridge on the border between Emilia Romagna and Tuscany and that, from Fanano, lead to Pistoia crossing the Croce Arcana and the Doganaccia, Cutigliano, and San Marcello Piteglio.

The stage 15 of the Nomantola Lombarda, 13,7 km long, starts from Rifugio Capanno Tassoni and arrives in Cutigliano, passing through Croce Arcana at 1669 meters. Here, you pass through the Doganaccia. Then, following Via dei Cacciatori, you reach the Lake St. Gualberto and continue along the asphalt road until you find an equipped area on the left. In this place, a CAI path that crosses the wood and arrives in Cutigliano starts. Proceeding downhill, you reach the village centre after 6,7 km. To conclude the stage, you must walk through the old town until you reach the village church, which is dedicated to St. Bartholomew.

The stage 16, 23,4 km long, starts from Cutigliano and arrives in Ponte Petri, passing through roads and paths in the woods. It brings you up to cross the bridge over the Volata torrent and go uphill towards the fraction of Pratale in the municipality of San Marcello Pistoiese. Then, you reach the village of Lizzano Pistoiese and you arrive in San Marcello Piteglio, walking through Via Massimo d’Azeglio and Via Santa Caterina. Following this route, you arrive at the church of the same name. After that, the path reaches Gavinana, Maresca, Campo Tizzoro and Ponte Petri following the “Sentiero della Ghiacciaia”.

The stage 17, 18 km long, arrives in Pistoia through beautiful landscapes. After crossing the river Reno, you reach the fraction of Le Grazie, the village of Cerchiato, and Lizzanello. You also go to the village of Castel di Piazza walking past the church dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel. There, the path goes down straight following the old route which once led to the village. It then reaches Via Vecchia Montanina which you follow until you meet, before the bridge of Gello over the Ombrone torrent, the sign which indicates the city of Pistoia. Afterwards, you arrive at the crossroad of San Francesco square with the church of the same name and, following the indications for the centre, you get to the churches of St. Andrew and of the Holy Spirit. After 200 meters you arrive at Via degli Orafi and you finally turn left, reaching the heart of the city of Pistoia with Piazza Duomo and Cathedral of St. Zeno.