Located just 38 kilometers from Bologna, Vergato is a mountain town in the Appenines. It is also on the edge of Tuscany, with Pistoia down the road about 55 kilometers. It is surrounded by stunning scenery and regional nature parks. It had the misfortune of being located on the Gothic Line during World War II and sustained heavy bombings by the Allies and depravations and violence by the German troops. The town was awarded the prestigious Medaglia d'Oro (medal of honor) for the generosity and solidarity of the citizens to the area's displaced population, the wounded soldiers and the partisan fighters.
With Etruscan and Roman roots, its name derives from latin "vergatum" meaning stripes, which could refer to the many ridges in the landscape, or perhaps to a type of fabric that was produced here. It was heavily damaged in the war and few historic buildings remain, but the beautiful Renaissance town hall known as the Palazzo dei Capitani shows that it once had palaces and history to show off. It was a crossroads that became the central point for the surrounding hill villages, which were once connected only by pathways. This was a place to stop and rest, find lodgings, or have a meal before continuing on the way.
The surrounding area is covered by nature parks, including the Regional Park of Suviana, with its lakes, woods, and wildlife; and the interesting Parco Storico di Monte Sole, a park that blends nature and history with a mission for peace. It is located at the site of heavy WWII activity and includes interpretive displays, hiking paths, a trail for the blind, and the touching Memorial Trail, that leads you along the history of the partisans and the war they were engaged in. There is a monument to the fallen heroes and a plea that this peaceful place would instill the desire for inner peace and national peace.
Villages in the hills nearby are part of the town of Vergato, like the darling stone hamlet of La Scola and Riola, with its fairytale castle called Rocchetta Mattei. The turretted and onion-domed structure looks lost in place and time. It was built by an eccentric doctor in the 1850s who established a fully-operating Medieval castle, complete with a social structure to match its historic counterpart. He created a new age medical facility here. In contrast, the town hosts the super-modern church, Chiesa Santa Maria Assunta, by noted architect Alva Aalto, with soaring white contemporary lines.
Vergato takes on the tastes of the region, with specialties including the handmade tortellini, lasagne and tagliatelle that Bologna and Emilia Romagna are famous for. There are delectable salamis, prosciutto, and cheeses, along with woodland treats like porcini mushrooms and truffles to enjoy.
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