Prato Acque Minerali, Imola (BO), ph. IAT Imola

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Mineral Water Park

Posted on 12 December 2022

Prato Acque Minerali, Imola (BO), ph. IAT Imola

From the large parking lot situated next to the bridge of viale Dante, take the small, pedestrian-only street and walk up the Santerno river. The look of this area was dramatically changed by the gravel excavations after World War II, when the locals started to use a large expanse of light-coloured gravel with small springs as a beach and swim in the river. The area where the Supermarket now stands, and part of the area reserved for shows and festivals, once housed the gravel crusher (“macadora”). Nowadays, you can still see the trees that typically grow along watercourses: Canadian poplar, white poplar, aspen, black poplar, ash-leaved maple, white willow, black alder, locust tree, etc. A slight rise in the ground points to the presence of “le Lastre” (‘the Slabs’), a rocky formation of yellow cemented sand that is commonly found in the low hills and emerges from the riverbed itself. Cross the narrow Tosa Bridge, turn left and past the racetrack underpass, and you will get to the Parco delle Acque Minerali (Mineral Water Park), the City’s oldest park. The discovery of small iron and sulphur springs in the mid-19th century led to the creation of a thermal watering place, following the fashion of the time, and to the conversion of the Castellaccio Hill, then planted with wheat and vine, into an English landscape park. Pass the entrance gate and keep to the right as far as the animal pond; then walk up the brook which, curiously enough, changes names three times in its short course (Rondinella, Pradella, Acque Minerali). Continue walking, keeping left, and you will reach the so-called ‘Grotta dei Tre Moschettieri’ (Cave of the three Musketeers), a small artificial cavity dug into the yellow sands, clearly visible in winter from here.

Cross the small wooden bridge and walk up towards a meadow with large oaks. Take the path that rises on the left and leads to the top of Monte Castellaccio, adorned by umbrella pines. Excavations on this plateau by eminent prehistory scholar Giuseppe Scarabelli uncovered a late Bronze Age village. His archaeological finds formed one of the nuclei of the emerging civic museum. Head back along the gravel road. When you reach the meadow, take the path to the left and cut across the north-western slope of the hill, covered with large, visually striking downy oaks. Walk right along the slope up to the Municipal Stadium. An abundance of linden trees grows here. Finally, walk along the cycle path back to the bridge, and close the loop.