One afternoon tour in the medieval village of Dozza
A little treasure hidden in the hills of Bologna
by Silvia Palmarini.
Once I read that Dozza Imolese is one of the 100 most beautiful villages in Italy and I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to see it myself.
In fact our tour started as a challenge because Dozza is not a location easy to reach if you don’t have the car. If you want to go on this trip you have to know that there is a bus line that goes only if somebody reserves it. Otherwise you have to do like we did… just ask the locals for the directions and start walking. But don’t worry, you’ll be rewarded.
From Toscanella (the closest bus stop) we start climbing the hill, leaving back the chaos of the city, and soon we are in the middle of nowhere. I can see only fields around us, but the panorama is breathtaking and the road is not too steep. Then, sooner than expected we find the town of Dozza, just a normal small town in the hills, and after it, finally, the historical village of Dozza!
Dozza welcomes us with its amazing medieval fortress, the Rocca Sforzesca. In effect this historical village is a fortified settlement ever since the 12th century.
The first thing I notice are the murals, I’ve already seen three of them, and I’ve just arrived. There should be more or less two hundred paintings here, but not the kind of street art one can imagine. No graffiti style. It is rather an open-air museum and that’s exactly how everything started. In 1960 the first Biennal Exhibition of Painted Wall took place here and it has never stopped.
Entering the historical village you leave all the chaos and the stress outside the gates. Walking along the narrow street of Dozza you start to realize the huge amount of artists that have contributed to decorate the village with their mural art. What is really astonishing is the way paintings interact with street furniture and with each other.
Despite it’s a Saturday afternoon and the weather is sunny it’s not crowded with tourists. How is it possible? I wish every city was like this… Moreover, Dozza is really small. Sooner than you think you reach the other gate. Looking around we find out that there is a path outside the medieval walls, which brings you back to the starting point. It’s more than a simple path actually. It’s a wonderful panoramic viewpoint of the surrounding countryside.
I have to admit that the Fortress is worth visiting. We first walk into the noble residence, which houses lavish bedrooms, living rooms, meeting rooms and even a small chapel. Then we climb the fortress towers, from which the view of the village is truly amazing! And at the end we access the old prisons, that still keep the original torturing tools, and the old kitchen and laundry rooms. I feel like I’ve time traveled. How marvelous!
Going out, at the entrance of the Fortress we notice a little staircase to the cellars. Where will it bring us? To the Enoteca Regionale of the Emilia Romagna region (local winehouse). What a very welcome surprise! We ask to taste some wine and we exit the shop with two bottles of good wine. And now we can can back to the big city life…
Visit Bologna: helpful hints
Bologna has an international and transcontinental airport: Marconi BLQ. A shuttle bus called Aerobus connects easily the airport to the city centre and to the Central Station (rides every 15 minutes, it takes 30 minutes and costs 6€).
Bologna is just in the middle of the Italian system of high speed train lines, so that you can reach Florence in 30 minutes, Milan in 1 hour and Rome in 2 hours by train (check tickets and fares on the two main companies Trenitalia and Italo). The Central Railway Station is in the city centre, 15 minutes walking from the main square.
The best way to visit Bologna is on foot! The single ticket costs 1,2 € (1,5 if you buy it on the bus) and it last 75 minutes. You can choose different types of ticket – daily etc. – for more information visit Tper website. There is also the option of bike sharing (provided by mobike), that’s 0,30 cent every 30 minutes ride. Find more tips about cycling services in town at the Dynamo – aka Velostazione. Car sharing is provided by two companies: Enjoy – for regular cars and Corrente – for electric cars.
What to do
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia Romagna, Northern Italy. It is really famous for its food (tortellini, mortadella, ragù alla bolognese, tagliatelle, lasagne, anyone?). Here you can find advices for some places where you can eat local food. Don’t miss a tour at FICO, the biggest Italian Food theme park! For more information check on FICO website.
Bologna is the city of arches (i.e. portici), there are 38km of them just in the centre of the city! Here you can find the University of Bologna that is the oldest University in the occidental world. The main monuments in the city centre are the Two Towers, the St Petronio’s church, the Neptune’s fountain and – on the hills – St Lucas sanctuary. Italia Slow Tour users have a special discount on City Red Bus & San Luca Express tours! Discover more about this amazing city.
Where to sleep
The best place to sleep in Bologna is the city centre or the areas near nearby, to visit all the city easily. In Bologna frequently take place some events and fairs, check the calendar just to be sure to book in advance since the city gets crowded!