This leg continues along the route towards the Apennine ridge, crossing an area where nature dominates, arriving at Gazzano, a town on the border between the provinces of Reggio and Modena.
August 2023: attention !! in the locality of Malpasso, due to damage to a small bridge, the variant proposed on site is to be considered, albeit short, by expert hikers with some equipped sections. For those who want to tackle a simple variant, after the Quara springs it is possible to go up to the village of Castagnola-Montebiotto and from there, with the small asphalt road, reach Gova where you can resume the trail.
The trail for this leg starts at the Pieve di Toano and proceeds along flat terrain in a south-westerly direction for about 1 km through the pine forest, then abruptly descends to the left to meet the provincial road in the locality of Polcione. From there, keep heading down along Via Polcione, keeping to the right when you get to the houses. The dirt road, which is steep in places, leads to the Prevedelli oratory. From there, passing between the houses below, you will soon reach the village of Frale.
From Frale, continue along the trail as indicated on the dirt road and follow the road down until you reach a small ditch. From there, the path continues uphill briefly alongside a fenced area of land. At the top, the path descends again until it crosses the paved road of Via Bonzeti. Here, at a bend and before reaching the houses in Villa Bonicelli, take the dirt road on the left that runs parallel to the stream until reaching the Quara springs. From the springs, the path climbs up towards the crags of Malpasso.
Continue along the path to Cadignano. Here, just a few hundred metres off the route of the Via Matildica, you’ll find the Cadignano humpback bridge over the Dolo.
The Via Matildica continues uphill towards the locality of Gova, following the route of trail 613, which runs along part of the paved road linking the two localities. From here, take the small road that leads down to Campolungo and from there, along almost continuous paved road, continue to Case Rossi and then Morsiano.
From Morsiano, take the road signposted for Romanoro, and after 1 km you’ll come to a bridge. The Via Matildica continues with the ford of the Cervarolo stream. You can decide whether you want to cross the ford depending on the terrain and your own personal capabilities.
The stream leads to a steep ascent towards Gazzano.
To avoid the ford, you can take the Cadignano bridge over the Dolo and shortly afterwards, on the right, take trail 690A, which then intercepts trail 598 SM (the Tracciolino) leading to the Fontanaluccia dam. From there, it’s a short climb up to Gazzano.
Rest areas (water and food): for the first few kilometres of the leg you will not find any public establishments on the route to purchase basic necessities. 1 km off the route (uphill), near Villa Bonicelli, you will find the Malpasso bar-trattoria. Also about half an hour’s walk from the route is the hamlet of Quara, which offers various services. In Gova there is a small grocery store and greengrocers on the route, as well as in Morsiano. There is a water fountain on the route before the Quara springs, one at Cadignano, one between Gova and Campolungo, and one at Morsiano.
Access by public transport: despite being in the heart of the Apennines, the route runs close to roads served by public transport on the line to Villa Minozzo. There are stops at Polcione, Montebiotto, Gova, Ca de Rossi, Morsiano and Gazzano. However, there are few daily services. You can find buses at Quara to take you to Toano and from there to Castelnovo ne’ Monti.
Pharmacies: at the start of the route in Toano and in Quara.
Near the stage arrival in Gazzano we find these accommodation facilities: