Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi
This park covers 36,426 hectares of land stretching across the ridge of the Tosco-Romagnolo Apennines, 18,696 of which are in the Romagna region; the park includes one of the largest and best preserved woodland areas in Italy. The Romagna side of this extensive protected area between the provinces of Forlì-Cesena, Arezzo and Florence includes the Montone, Rabbi and Bidente valleys; the Bidente River divides into three branches creating the valleys of Corniolo, Ridracoli and Pietrapazza, which join up just before Santa Sofia.
The Tuscany side of the park covers a small part of the Mugello area and includes the Casentino, a territory that embraces the upper Arno Valley; the springs of the Arno River gush out from the southern slopes of Mount Falterona, the highest mountain of the park together with Mount Falco. The heart of this park is covered by the Foreste Demaniali Casentinesi, a very old woodland area extraordinarily rich in flora and fauna.
Solemn fir trees, fresh brooks and beautiful waterfalls surround the mystic atmosphere of places such as Camaldoli and La Verna, villages which in the past welcomed important religious people and thinkers. Literary men such as Dante and Ariosto celebrated these landscapes and deeply spiritual men like Saint Romualdo and St. Francis found refuge here. The hilly area of the park, up to about 800 m includes woods made up of different tree species: hop-hornbeam, common hornbeam, manna ash, Turkey oak, field maple, Italian maple, service tree, wild service tree and small clusters of chestnut trees. The main species of shrubs include golden shower tree, common hawthorn, cornelian cherry and common dogwood, while willow and hazelnut can be found along waterways. The undergrowth is coloured by the beautiful flowers of hellebores, primroses, violets, lungworts and wood anemones.
Between 800-900m and 1,200 m the park landscape has maintained the combination of species typical of Apennine woods not easily found elsewhere. Trees include beech and silver fir combined with the magnificent presence of linden, sycamore maple, Norway maple, ash and wych elm. The higher parts of the park are characterised by meadows and a compact presence of bilberry moors. The only occurrence in the Apennines of Tozzia Alpina can be found in this park along the brooks that flow in the beech woods near the mountain ridge.
The Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona e Campigna has an interesting fauna, probably the richest and most varied in the northern Apennines. The wolf is one of the mammals that has found a favourable habitat in this park and is now permanently and continuously present together with four types of ungulates: wild boar, deer, roe and fallow deer. Rodents found in these forest areas include yellow-necked field mice, dormice and squirrels. Small size carnivores include beech-martens, weasels, badgers, polecats and foxes. The park also has a high number of birds most of which populate the woodland areas: blackcap, chaffinch, winter wren, blackbird, robin, coal tit, goldcrest, song thrush, mistle thrush, wood-pigeon and common treecreeper.
Avifauna also includes birds of prey such as the sparrow hawk, kestrel, buzzard, honey buzzard, eagle, goshawk, eagle owl, peregrine falcon and the species typically found in pastures, meadows and bushy areas. The park also offers an ideal habitat for reptiles and amphibians, in particular for the fire salamander, a salamander species rarely found in the Apennines which lives in the beech woods of this park; Italian endemic species such as the Italian stream frog and spectacled salamander can also be found in the park.
OPEN AIR MUSEUM
This park is of great interest not only for its nature but also for its charming towns that still preserve historical traditions and natural treasures. Bagno di Romagna, along the E45, is the most important mountain town of the Savio Valley. The town was once a famous thermal resort hence the Latin name "Balneum". Among the buildings positioned according to the ancient urban layout it is worth visiting the Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta of Roman origins and the buildings in Via Fiorentina, in particular Palazzo Capitano. Tourists leaving Bagno di Romagna can head for the delightful Pietrapazza Valley and the village of Poggio alla Lastra. The municipality of Premilcuore in the high Rabbi Valley is also worth a visit for its medieval historical centre with remains of the Rocca, the Porta Fiorentina, Palazzo Briccolani, and Oratorio di San Lorenzo.
Also worth seeing the Pieve di San Martino in Alpe, the Molino, the village of Castel dell'Alpe, the Oratorio del Mogio, and the village of Fiumicello. Santa Sofia, headquarters of the Comunità del Parco, is an important town in the Bidente Valley. The urban layout of the town shows elements of historical-architectural interest, in particular Palazzo Giorgi and the Chiesa di Santa Lucia. Nearby there is the village of Corniolo with the 18th century Oratorio della Beata Vergine della Crocetta and the hamlet of Corniolino. The Giardino Botanico di Valbonella is also of great interest as well as the town of Campigna which gives its name to the forest and is one of the most well known places in the park. Another interesting village in the Romagna side of the park is Tredozio on the Tramazzo valley floor, with its Torre civica and Chiesa della Compagnia del SS. Sacramento, Palazzo Fantini, Chiesa di San Michele Arcangelo, Convento della SS. Annunziata and the beautiful 17th and 18th century buildings. Near Tredozio it is worth visiting the villages of Gamogna and Trebbana, Santa Maria in Castello, lake Ponte and the Fonte del Bepi. The history of the town of San Benedetto in Alpe is connected to the name of Saint Romualdo who came to this town twice in 1004 and 1021. Originally the monastery was one of the most famous abbeys in the Tuscan-Romagna Apennines; today visitors can still see the crypt, defence tower, arch portal and part of the external walls. Not far from San Benedetto in Alpe, there is the famous Acquacheta waterfall celebrated by Dante (Inferno - Canto XVI). In fact, Dante found refuge here, where the Fosso Aquacheta drops for 70 meters, during his exile from Florence; modern travellers can admire unusual glimpses of the nature of the Apennines. Another important natural element of this park is the Riserva Naturale Integrale di Sasso Fratino, the first fully protected reserve established in Italy (1959) where only monitoring and research activities are allowed.
Visitor Centres and themes:
1 - San Benedetto in Alpe : The history of Romagna-Toscana - Viale Acquacheta, 6
47010 - Benedetto in Alpe (FC)
tel/fax +39 0543 965286
2 - Premilcuore: fauna of the Apennines - Via Roma, 34
47010 - Premilcuore (FC)
tel. +39 0543 956540
3 - Bagno di Romagna: Geology and Thermalism - Via Fiorentina, 38 - 47021 Bagno di Romagna (FC)
Tel. +39 0543 911304 - Fax +39 0543 911709
4 - Santa Sofia: The forest - via Nefetti, 3 - 47018 Santa Sofia - FC
tel. +39 0543 971297 - fax. +39 0543 973034
5 - Tredozio: Roe - Via Fabroni, 30 - 47019 - Tredozio (FC)
tel/fax +39 0546 943182
6 - Badia Prataglia-Poppi: Man and the forest - via Nazionale, 14/a - 52010 - Badia Prataglia-Poppi (AR)
tel/fax +39 0575 559477
7 - Castagno d'Andrea-San Godenzo: Mount Falterona, Via del Borgo, 12 - 50060 Castagno d'Andrea - S. Godenzo (FI)
Tel. +39 055 8375125 - Fax +39 055 8375125
8 - Chiusi della Verna: Religion and Nature - Parco I Maggio - 52010 - Chiusi della Verna (AR)
tel/fax +39 0575 532098
9 - Serravalle-Bibbiena : Exploring nature - Via Coselschi 52010 - Serravalle
tel. +39 0575 539174
10 - Londa : Man and landscape - Parco del Lago 50060 - Londa (FI)
tel +39 055 8351202
11 - Stia: Water is energy for man - Park information point 52017 - Piazza Tanucci - Stia
tel. +39 0575 504106
WALKS AND TRAILS
The park is crossed by a network of more than 600 Km of trails marked according to CAI (Italian Alpine Club) regulations. Of particular importance the section of the GEA, (Great Apennine Trek) part of the Sentiero Italia that goes from the Muraglione Pass to the Santuario de La Verna; this section is particularly interesting in terms of history and landscape as it includes Mount Falterona, Campigna and the Eremo di Camaldoli.
Nature trails have bee created to offer visitors the opportunity to learn more about the natural aspects of this area; these walks underline the importance and beauty of the landscape and nature of this park. For example:
Campigna: Silver fir and fir woods
Fiumicello: On the trail of man
Tredozio-Lago di Ponte: Nature and the shapes of the territory
Ridracoli: From the dam to Cà di Sopra
Camaldoli: Trees and woods
Badia Prataglia-Capanno: Beech woods
Acquacheta: The valley and Dante’s waterfall
To the Sacro Monte de La Verna: Nature, history and spirituality
Castagno d'Andrea: The role of chestnut trees in civilisation