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Bombs, Villas and Hiking in Italy

As much as I love seeing gorgeous old buildings and ambling down narrow cobbled alleyways in Italian cities, one of my favorite ways to get to know a place is to go hiking.

When I visited my friend Maddalena in Italy this fall, she took me on a gorgeous hike just as the sun was setting over the russet hills outside Bologna. We entered the gates of the park in time to see locals gathered around a bright red tractor to pick up some last minute produce for their dinners.

It was such a peaceful time of day to go for a walk. Mothers pushed prams and chattered happily with their friends, and old men parked themselves on benches to watch the goings on of their neighbors.

Our first stop was at the ruins of a once splendid villa rising golden and majestic in the late afternoon sun.

Once a stunning place of colonnades, soaring ceilings and a flourishing orangerie, the villa managed to survive all of World War II until it was bombed on the very last day of the war.

Maddalena and I were just discussing how we wished some rich personage would come along to restore it when she spotted a sign saying that restoration was actually beginning. Hooray!

Old black and white pictures showed us what the villa used to look like. Isn’t it beautiful and grand? Like something out of an old Hollywood movie. ๐Ÿ™‚

Italian bombed villa

I can’t wait to visit in a few years to see the villa as it ought to be: tall, stately, with native Italian plants thriving once again.

We continued on our way, Maddalena telling me what it was like in Italy during the war years. As in the rest of Europe, times were very difficult for the local population.

Unlike the rest of Europe, Italy had the dubious position of being a former ally of Germany. For several years the Nazi’s had lived peaceably in Italy, using the country as a base of operations, but overnight they went from being friends to enemies.

The results were horrifying for the Italians. Murder, starvation, and fear were daily struggles, and many lost their lives in the years that followed.

It was amazing to walk these paths, feeling completely safe and peaceful, knowing that just a few years ago Resistance fighters and Nazi’s fought a constant game of cat and mouse.

It feels so peaceful now.


So warm, quiet, and safe.


But there are still reminders of those days in the crumbling, bombed out villas scattered throughout the park.

I’m glad people are investing the time and money in restoring them, but I’m also glad I got to see them as they are. Vivid reminders of the preciousness of peace and freedom.

Soon our trail left the woods and wended up into the hills, heavenly sunshine warming us after the cool shade of the forest.

Tomorrow I’ll show you glorious views worth every step of our uphill trek.

What is a meaningful historical site you’ve visited?

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budgetjan - Love the first and last of the house photos. The strong mustard of the first – and the tall straight lines, and then the mellow yellow and tiny bricks of the last. I also love the last photo – maybe the brown grass reminds me of drought in Australia ๐Ÿ™‚

Krista - Oh, me too, Lisa! There was one in Vogogna that I stayed in that I could happily have lived in forever. ๐Ÿ™‚ Those thick stone walls just make the world disappear and make you feel like you’re in your own little world. ๐Ÿ™‚

Krista - Oh, that does sound wonderful, Joanne. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m no runner but I know my siblings did that when we were in Italy and they loved it! ๐Ÿ™‚

Hiking near Bologna and Real Italian Minestrone Soup » Rambling Tart - […] my Bolognese friend Maddalena and I explored bombed out villas in a beautiful Italian park near Bologna, we emerged from the tree line to see this stunning […]

Lisa - What a perfect and gorgeous Fall day for a hike!ย  Blown away byย your beautiful photos.. I almost feel like I’m on the hike with you!ย  I’ve always wanted to live in an Italian villa..they’re so architecturally stunning and there’s a peacefulness to them.

Joanne - Similarly, I think running through a city/town is the best way to get to know it!ย  Thanks for all of these gorgeous photos! They’re so refreshing and a great way to start the morning!

Krista - Thank you, Susan! ๐Ÿ™‚ So glad you like this place too. ๐Ÿ™‚

Susan - So beautiful!

Krista - It was such a wonderful place, Faith. A perfect combination of nature and history and community. I loved it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Krista - Aren’t they wonderful, Rosa? I can’t wait to see how beautiful they are fully restored. ๐Ÿ™‚

Rosa May - What a beautiful walk! Those villas are gorgeous.



Faith - What a lovely place for walking around and exploring…there’s so much history there!ย  You’re right, it’s amazing how it can feel so peaceful and serene now, when in the past it was anything but.ย  It goes to show that places and times change just as people can.ย 

Love that beautiful villa — you’re right, in its glory days it looked like something out of Hollywood!

Krista - Thank you, Barbara. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so glad you like them. It really was hard to imagine those awful days in that calm place. I’ve never been to Hawaii, but would love to go one day and make time to visit The Punchbowl.

Barbara Williams - Your photos are brilliant, Krista. So peaceful that it’s hard to imagine the terror that took place so many years ago. I think a moving memorial is “The Punchbowl” in Hawaii, where so many of our military are buried.

Krista - I’m so glad you like them too, Lorraine! ๐Ÿ™‚ It was quite a trek but so worth every huff and puff. ๐Ÿ™‚

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella - Beautiful views Krista! I admit I’m not much of a hiker but these views show me that I am missing out!

Krista - I’ve only read a little about the Dionne Quinituplets, Val, and am interested in learning more. Their story is so sad, I can only imagine how moving their home would be. Thank you for the link!

bellini - Timeย brings peace to these areas where the young can only reminisce throuhh the stories of their ancestors. A meaningful historical site I have visited is the Dionne Quinituplets home in North Bay, Ontario. The Quints were born to a very poor family who were forced to exploit themย and were put on show to help take care ot them. http://www.city.north-bay.on.ca/quints/digitize/dionne.htm

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