This year two of our committee members, Joe Agius and Richard Weninger, with the generous help of rambler friends from Bologna, particularly that of our old friend and collaborator Roberto Mezzacasa, organised an 8-day rambling and cultural tour in Emilia-Romagna. Roberto managed to rope in no fewer than twelve Italians to accompany us on the various walks and cultural visits.
Based in the 4-star Admiral Park Hotel beautifully situated in a green area a few kilometres away from the historical centre of the city, with the small Lavino river flowing just some metres away from the hotel, the thirty-five participants could also enjoy pleasant and peaceful walks along its banks thickly lined with trees, shrubs and undergrowth, or climb the steep wooded hill behind the hotel.
The group had guided tours to the historical centre of Bologna and to parts of Ravenna; this latter included the churches of San Vitale and Sant’Apollinare Nuovo where they could admire some of the world famous Byzantine mosaics. The Po Delta Natural Reserve provided a most pleasant two-hour interesting walk from the Adriatic coast to the quaint fishing village of Comacchio.
The rest of the days a private coach carried our group and their Italian friends to the starting place for long and longer, moderate and harder, walks in the very green, picturesque, hilly surroundings of Bologna. The area enjoys an astounding number of such walks along sign-posted paths maintained by the CAI and other local rambling organizations. These same groups took upon themselves the difficult task of clearing the many blocked paths from debris and uprooted trees, following last winter’s strong winds, heavy rains and snow. Being daytime, we saw neither the deer, nor the boars, nor the wolves which inhabit these hills, but we did see many birds.
A really emotional walk was the one on Monte Sole near the village of Marzabotto, scene of some atrocities by Nazi SS against innocent children, women and old persons. Another walk took the Ramblers along the well-known, nearly 4 kilometre long, monumental roofed portico which snakes down from the sanctuary of San Luca all the way to Bologna city allowing magnificent views of the green surroundings.
With an eye on safety for the walkers, the last walk prepared for Monte Adone had to be abandoned halfway through due to bad weather conditions which made the trail slippery and dangerous.
Though the daily treks were quite tiring, the participants still found the time to enjoy quiz nights and a video-talk on a book proposing a 6 day trekking itinerary in the Sorrentine peninsula (mostly the Amalfi coast) written by the same Roberto.
The tour leaders felt that the group was most collaborative and gelled well together, and that it was this camaraderie which made it possible for all to have a truly enjoyable experience.