Have you ever wanted to take a trip back in time as you wander through cobbled alleys and stone houses? In the hustle and bustle of modern life, taking a break in places that seem suspended between past and present can be an extraordinary experience.
If you are fascinated by the idea of exploring ancient villages, you absolutely must discover these hidden gems in the Apennine valleys in and around Bologna. In this post I will guide you through five enchanting villages that will capture your imagination with their timeless beauty and rich histories.
Bologna and surroundings: the 5 most beautiful villages to visit amidst art and history
1. DOZZA: A PERFECT COMBINATION OF HISTORY AND ART
Imagine exploring both an ancient fortress and a picturesque village in the same place. This is the experience awaiting you in Dozza.
The majestic Rocca di Dozza, commissioned by Caterina Sforza during the Renaissance, blends harmoniously with the surrounding village. However, what really distinguishes this village from others are the lively paintings decorating the walls of the houses and shops. Here, in fact, in the 1960s, the Biennale del Muro Dipinto (Biennial Exhibition of the Painted Wall) was born, which has involved hundreds of artists over the years, transforming Dozza into an open-air museum.
2. SAN PIETRO DI OZZANO: A LEAP INTO THE PAST IN THE HEART OF NATURE
If you want to take a dip into the past, the picturesque village of San Pietro di Ozzano is for you. This gem lies close to the Parco Regionale dei Gessi Bolognesi e dei Calanchi dell’Abbadessa, a few kilometres from Bologna.
The thousand-year-old tower, the symbol of the village, is all that remains of an ancient medieval castle, and as you stroll through the cobbled streets you can immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a bygone era and stop at the traditional taverns to savour the authentic flavours of this region.
3. MALACAPPA: A REFUGE SUSPENDED IN TIME BETWEEN WATER AND NATURE
Malacappa, beloved by the inhabitants of Bologna for a brief escape from the city, presents itself as a refuge suspended between the past and the present. With an enchanting location between the banks of the Reno, this village is reflected in the river and surrounded by natural oases rich in flora and fauna. A place where time seems to pass more slowly, inviting you to reconnect with nature and history.
4. SELVA MALVEZZI: A JOURNEY INTO THE MIDDLE AGES AMONG CASTLES AND PALACES
If you are fascinated by the Middle Ages, you cannot miss Selva Malvezzi. This village, surrounded by rice fields south of the Idice stream, has its roots in the feudal past of a Bolognese family.
The atmosphere of times gone by blends with the well-preserved buildings, such as the majestic castle affectionately called ‘Palazzaccio’ and the Governor’s Palace, an architectural jewel that will catapult you back in time.
5. BRISIGHELLA: A HISTORICAL TREASURE SURROUNDED BY NATURE
Only an hour’s drive from Bologna, Brisighella is an authentic historical treasure nestled in the beauty of the Chalk Vein Regional Park. As soon as you arrive, you will be struck by the natural formations that protect this strategically built village.
Two imposing fortresses, the Rocca Manfrediana and the Torre dell’Orologio, dominate the landscape and offer an enthralling experience through historical re-enactments during the summer.
If you are a lover of art, history and the unique atmosphere of ancient villages, this list of destinations is perfect for you. Let yourself be transported back in time as you explore these picturesque villages in and around Bologna, where every cobbled street and corner tells a story full of charm and authenticity.
There is no better way to escape the daily grind and immerse yourself in a world where the past comes alive before your eyes. And if, after discovering these hidden gems, you are hungry for more artistic adventures in Bologna, don’t forget to take a look at what to see in Bologna to continue your journey through culture and art.