''Piccola Cassia'' Tourist Project

2018 13 gennaio

From the Roman and then Longobard via Cassiola to the Piccola Cassia - Published in Almatourism, Journal of Tourism, Culture and Territorial Development'' of the Alma Mater Studiorum, University of Bologna

By Paola Foschi


A coordinated set of initiatives of cultural value also useful for the acquaintance and tourism development of the territory must have as solid basis the study of the ancient testimonies of the path of travelers and pilgrims. Cassiola road was a Roman road, continuing north of Cassia road, disused during the occupation of the Longobards of West Emilia, and reopened by the longobard king Astolfo in the middle of the eighth century. Today the different stretches of Cassiola or Piccola Cassia road are still accessible on foot, on horseback, by bicycle, and touch places of high historical, architectural, artistic and cultural value. 
The study of many other medieval roads deriving from Roman ones has verified the persistence of the use of the road name itself (such as Fiamenga da Flaminia or Cassiola da Cassia) or the use in medieval documents of the term strata, which always indicates a road of importance not only local but at least regional or trans-regional. Via Cassiola can be found in medieval documents from this name, in the vulgar Latin transformed into Cassola, or in the historical cartography of Modern age with the name of Cassola or Cassoletta. Its path to the plain between Modena and Bologna covered important Benedictine abbeys rich in relics, such as S. Silvestro di Nonantola and S. Maria in Strada, and medieval hospitals for pilgrims, such as S. Bartholomew of Spilamberto. On the hills, the road touched the abbey of St. Lucia of Roffeno and wandered the Apennine to the passage of the Arcane Cross, where a great cross was driving the passengers. On the way to the pass, pilgrims could stay at the church of S. Colombano in Fanano, while in the valley of the Ospitale torrent one could find refuge in the hospice of S. Giacomo of Val di Lamola, both still existing. In Tuscany, the road allowed to arrive in Pistoia, the end of the Roman Cassia road, where pilgrims could adore the relics of saint James in the cathedral, or reach the Garfagnana and Lucca, where the Holy Face attracts the devotion of thousands of faithful men and women from all over Europe.