The path to San Luca is one of the most loved walks by the Bolognese. For the citizens, the Sanctuary of the Madonna is not just a place of worship but a real fixed point in the habits of those who live in Bologna.
Returning to from a trip, his silhouette on the green Colle della Guardia warns us that our home is nearby.
Walking tour to San Luca through the longest portico in the world
The best way to reach San Luca on foot is starting right from the door guarded by the two majestic lions and following from here the wonderful portico of via Saragozza.
From here we will find ourselves traveling a journey of almost 4 kilometers on foot which is a consolidated habit for many Bolognese.
Often you meet brave people who tackle the challenge by bike or running, the magical atmosphere is made even more interesting knowing that you are walking along the longest portico in Europe!
Our route includes 4 stages:
Little Train to San Luca 🚂
With gastronomic tasting
Get to the top of Colle della Guardia without any effort.
🤩 Enjoy the marvelous spectacle of the longest portico in Europe.
1. Get to San Luca starting from Porta Saragozza
To begin our journey we choose a magnificent starting point: Porta Saragozza. The majestic and fascinating structure is part of the ancient city walls and dates back to the 13th century.
From this point you leave the center behind and continue along the portico which was built in the 17th century. Its purpose was to facilitate the procession that carries the effigy of the Madonna and Child from San Luca to the Basilica of San Petronio.
The procession has been repeated every year since 1433, traveling 3.7 kilometers through 666 arches and 15 chapels. The number is not accidental and contains a symbolic meaning: the road that winds down from Colle della Guardia represents the devil crushed by the Madonna during her descent from the Sanctuary.
It is not surprising that many use the itinerary that leads to the renowned basilica as a path of purification or a pledge to pay for the mistakes made.
Returning to our path you can breathe a sigh of relief, the first part of our walk is flat and full of distractions that make the journey even more enjoyable. Time seems to pass quickly among small shops and restaurants that crowd the suggestive arcaded street. The gaze also goes to the opposite side of the street where Art Nouveau villas and buildings with characteristic architecture catch our eye.
During the journey we can only be attracted to the park of Villa Spada which enchants us with its greenery and ancient charm. If you have time, we suggest it as a mini intermediate stop. The villa dates back to the eighteenth century and the park is made up of about 6 hectares of majestic trees and glimpses to be discovered, in fact from the highest areas it is possible to admire a beautiful postcard view.
2. Intermediate stage: the Arco del Meloncello
The Arco del Meloncello certainly does not go unnoticed, its majesty surprises us from afar.
At this point you will have traveled about 1.5 kilometers, please stop to catch your breath and admire the elegant and scenic 18th century flyover that takes us to the heart of our route, the climb along the sanctuary.
From here the path will become more difficult but also more suggestive, with the panorama that slowly opens up in front of us. After passing the arch and starting the climb, football lovers will happily notice the nearby Dall’Ara Stadium on their right.
With the ascent also begins the succession of 15 chapels, representing the 15 mysteries of the Rosary, which will accompany us to the top. You can decide to stop at each of them and reveal their mysteries as you regain your energies. They will also help you calculate the distance to your final destination.
On the way we were accompanied by several trees and elegant villas in the background. The closer the final destination gets, the more we will discover that we are higher and higher starting to discover the exciting panorama of our beloved city in front of us.
3. The arrival in San Luca and the beautiful panorama
The Sanctuary welcomes us with its imposing figure that can be admired even better by descending towards the courtyard below. As we advance towards the entrance of the Basilica, we find the splendid Bolognese skyline on the left with its red roofs that at sunset look like a sea of flames stretched out towards the horizon.
The landscape on the other side of the sanctuary is not far behind, the green of the hills gives us serenity and peace.
It is not only the view that fascinates, the sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca is built in a sumptuous Baroque style and inside you can admire the splendid and venerated effigy of the Madonna and Child. The icon is not large in size but fascinates with its bright colors and the various legends it is surrounded by.
After your visit, you can refresh yourself at the Basilica’s refreshment point, inside the courtyard below. It is not a real shop but there are some vending machines equipped with delicious snacks and drinks.
If you are hungry, near the monumental church there is also a picturesque restaurant: Trattoria da Vito a San Luca.
If you are interested in some advice on where to eat, consult: restaurants in Bologna. We have collected numerous tips derived from years of experience!
We advise you to explore the surroundings in order to admire San Luca in all its beauty even from afar. Get ready to take one photo after another before embarking on the way back and discover all the details you missed on the way up.
Other ways to get to San Luca
If you want to visit this attraction but think this path is too hard for you don’t worry! The walking itinerary is not the only way to reach this enchanting place.
In addition to the car, it is possible to reach the top while sitting in a comfortable and suggestive little train, from where you can admire the surrounding landscape and beauties in complete tranquility.
In this case we advise you to book online an experience including train ticket and food tasting.