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Rivers, lakes and oases: the cool side of Bologna

Posted on 29 July 2021 From eXtraBO Outdoor Infopoint

We are now in the middle of summer, and the heat in the city is making itself felt, as is the desire to stay cool! Here are a few tips on where to cool off around Bologna. 


The Suviana Lake, located between the municipalities of Castel di Casio and Camugnano, is the largest lake of the Bolognese Apennines. It can be reached from Bologna in about an hour and a half by car (at summer weekends it can also be reached by Colbus), and comes with a plethora of services and facilities. It is possible to stop off in the picnic areas, to choose one of the various restaurants on the shores, or simply to relax under the sun on the lakeside. Many CAI (Italian Alpine Club) trails, to be followed on foot or by bicycle, also depart from Suviana. This destination is furthermore perfectly suited for a trip with children, who can have fun in the nearby adventure park.


Just a few minutes from Madonna dei Fornelli (crossed by two important routes of the Apennines, the Via degli dei and the Via Mater Dei) lies the Lake of Castel dell'Alpi, a lovely and refreshing corner of the Bolognese Apennines. Here you can stroll around the lake and unwind along its shores on the numerous benches or in the equipped area with hammocks and picnic tables. Not far from the lake, we recommend a short walk along the stretch of the Via degli Dei following the Via Flaminia Militare, whose ancient Roman paving can still be admired today. 


To those heading northwards , not far from the town of Bentivoglio, we strongly recommend a visit to the Oasis La Rizza, also known as the Ex Risaia (Former Rice Fields), one of the most important environmental reconstruction projects in the Bolognese plain and home to a rich fauna of birds. This lovely corner offers the opportunity to discover the charm of the landscapes and woods that once populated this area, consisting of a large irregularly shaped basin where, between one bank and another, kingfishers use to search for their preys. In this magical corner, amidst incredibly tall marsh reeds, the white stork, which had been believed to be extinct for centuries, nests once again while peacefully flying among the poplars, white willows, ash trees and field maples that shade the oasis.


In the heart of the Bolognese flatlands, a natural monument of great environmental interest awaits: the Bisana floodplain forest, an example of humid-riparian forest, created by the debris of the Reno river and marked by an incredible variety of habitats. Here you can walk in the shade of willow and poplar forests on the banks (known as "gallery forests"), up to grassland areas and clearings. Among the majestic trunks of the forest you can glimpse little surprises such as the nests of green and red woodpeckers, whilst a magical sight comes on at night, when fireflies light up the bushes in the forest. During the summer, night tours are arranged for you to admire this enchanting natural phenomenon. The Bisana is home to a large number of species, which survive here thanks to the unspoilt environment of this precious area. 


If you are looking for a place to reenergize your body and mind, the Sillaro River Valley is the right destination. 

Let's set off from Castel San Pietro Terme to discover this territory where unspoilt nature pampers us with thermal water springs, uncontaminated woods , numerous small lakes and a real oasis, the Zello Naturist Oasis. 

There are 55 different routes (on foot, by bicycle or by car/motorbike) created by the Villaggio della Salute Più that we suggest you try to enjoy the coolness and beauty of these landscapes.


Climbing the Via Montanara from Imola, we travel through the Santerno Valley, an ideal place to cool off from the summer heat of the cities.

The river winds its way through gullies, cool woods, age-old chestnut groves and glistening chalk outcrops making up a unique landscape. Sure enough, the valley is  crossed by the Vena del Gesso Romagnola, a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Site for its geo-naturalistic importance. 

On one of the many creeks where you can relax while enjoying pleasant temperatures, we find the Casa del Fiume (River House) in Borgo Tossignano: an oasis of peace, caressed by the cool waters of the Santerno river in the shade of one of the imposing rock walls that characterise the entire valley. As well as operating as a visitor centre for the Park and the Valley, where it is possible to hire bikes and take guided tours, the Casa del Fiume is also a refreshment point with typical local dishes. 



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