The Via Vandelli

The Via Vandelli

The Via Vandelli foresees a series of stops along paths and muletracks in the valleys of the Modena Apennines. This itinerary is rich in historical medieval sites framed by majestic panoramic views, thick with beech woods and silver firs and an architecture mostly made up of rural villages and buildings.

Departing from Modena, a one week hike reaches the Frignano mountains and then the Garfagnana Valleys in Tuscany. This itinerary is suitable for cultural tourism and nature tourism; it is of medium difficulty and part of the route surface is sandstone material.

The itinerary starts in Modena where there are many ancient sites to visit that testify to the prestigious historical-artistic past of the city. The route then goes to Sassuolo, a beautiful little town near the Secchia river famous for its ceramics.

The route then goes to Serramazzoni, the second stop of this historical itinerary, and passes the Spa of Salvarola, the badlands of the Secchia Valley, the volcanic rocks of Varana and the woods of Faeto with its beeches, chestnut trees and imposing Turkey oaks - one in particular that is over 400 hundred years old called “quercia dei Zanoli” (Oak of the Zanoli).  Nearby there is the Pieve di Rocca Santa Maria connected to Matilde di Canossa. Also in the area is the “Sasso delle streghe” (The witches’ rock), a tower over 20m high made out of fossilised shells from the Miocene time.

From Pavullo the Via Vandelli passes the masks carved into the Pietre di Monzone (rocks of Monzone) and leads to the woods of the Ponte del Diavolo (Bridge of the Devil), with a fantastic natural sandstone monolith sculpted by the wind and the rain over hundreds of years. The monolith is 33 m long now and over the years it has taken the shape of a bridge.

The area of Lama, offers a wide range of natural treasures thanks to the rich variety of the chestnut, beech oak and pine woods that surround it. Along the way, it is quite common to meet fallow deer, deer, squirrels and various species of birds.

One of the last stops on the Via Vandelli before leaving the Emilia area, and after the Capanno Guerri, typical Celtic construction, is La Fabbrica (The Factory) built according to plans drawn by Vandelli near Sant’Andrea Pelago, which at the time was a place to sleep and eat for wayfarers.

Amongst the ruins of imposing Celtic huts covered by ash-trees and wild cherry trees, the route descends towards the valleys of Garfagnana.

In Tuscany the Via Vandelli reaches the villages of  Castiglione e Castelnuovo Garfagnana, goes past the lake of Vagli and the plains of Campocatino, climbs up the Apuane Alps and above the impervious Arnetola Valley until it reaches the so called "finestra Vandelli" (Vandelli window) at the Tambura Pass. After the towers of the Campaniletti, the route goes down to Massa, where the ancient Via Vandelli ends.


Take the A1 motorway and exit at Modena. Modena is 39 Km from Bologna, 130 Km from Florence, 170 Km from Milan, and 404 Km from Rome.
The area of Frignano can be easily reached from Emilia and Tuscany. Once in Modena take the   SS12 "Nuova Estense" road to Pavullo nel Frignano. For the trekking itinerary: at the bus station (ATCM) in Modena buy a ticket to Serramazzoni and get the bus to Pavullo-Abetone; after about one hour it arrives in Serramazzoni.

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