The valleys of Santerno, Senio, Sintria and Lamone that cut through the Apennines in the western part of Romagna, are intersected, about ten kilometers from the line connecting the plain, by the Vena del Gesso Romagnola. It is a vast karstic complex that is composed of a long rocky crest of selenite, a variety of chalk with fascinating reflections. The outcrop formed around 6 million years ago, is the longest and most impressive gypsum formation in Italy. It stretches for 25 km with an average width of one and a half kilometers.
In the territory of Riolo Terme, there is one of the most evocative portions of this ridge, full of well-marked trails and paths. The trails are ideal for trekking and mountain biking. Almost all of trails are accessible on horseback as well.
Loop trails vary between 5 and 11 km and allow you to fully grasp the richness of the environment, while discovering the scents and noises of a surprisingly varied landscape both from the naturalistic and historical-cultural perspective. For more experienced hikers, the Great Traverse of the Parco Vena del Gesso Romagnola is a truly unforgettable two-day excursion. The path crosses over shimmering crystals, ridges, caverns, strips of Mediterranean vegetation, ruins of castles and abandoned quarries.
A “Coast to Coast” crossing “Tossignano – Brisighella – Tossignano” consists of stages of about 20 kilometers a day, mostly over rocky terrain with many exposed stretches and gradients ranging from 1300 to 1500 meters. The important St. Anthony’s Way (Cammino di Sant’Antonio) passes through here. This religious route follows the ancient path that the Saint made to move from Assisi, where he had met Saint Francis, to Padua, where he died.
Itineraries for all tastes, from the simplest to the most complex to enjoy and discover this extraordinary landscape alternates between gentle green hills, chalky ridges with no vegetation, and wild and dry ravines.