The Tuscan-Emilian Apennine National Park
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The Tuscan-Emilian Apennine National Park consists of a striking stretch of the Apennine Mountains surrounded by forests, in an extraordinary geographical position: a 930 mile-long Apennine Mountain range that lays right in between the Po River Valley, the rest of Europe, and the Mediterranean Sea.
The Apennine ridgeline, an almost continuous sequence of peaks whose altitude ranges between 1600 and 2000 meters, is the physical border between Emilia and Tuscany.
The National Park and its surrounding territory are truly unspoiled, as yet undiscovered by mass tourism, where you will experience a genuine Italian lifestyle; you will be guest of a widespread mountain community, where everyone want you to experience – and very often taste – the best their homeland can offer.
Here you can find culture, nature, leisure, outdoor activities, and food all within a short distance!
With boots, snowshoes, crampons, skis, bicycles or on horseback: everyone can choose his own way of exploring this world of sweet mountains with a wild heart. Let’s go discover it!
What to do
The Apennine Park wears new colors in every season: spring blooms, summer green, the thousand autumn shades, the whiteness of winter. Each period carries specific activities with it; here is a little guide season by season.
Spring offers beautiful landscapes, where the highest peaks are still snowy while the valleys are already green and colored by the pink of the primroses and the yellow of the daffodils; torrents and rivers are particularly rich in water, creating suggestive waterfalls.
It is the ideal season for hiking, biking and visiting the villages and the many historic places inside the Park.
The summer calendar of the Park is full of initiatives and events: from food festivals in the villages, to sporting and cultural events. It is the season of berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries) that can be collected at the edges of paths and mule tracks.
This period is ideal to follow one of the itineraries specifically dedicated horse lovers (which here are also interested for the presence of indigenous species), while those who want to soar in the air can enjoy hang-gliding or paragliding, every weekend from the top of Cusna and Prampa Mounts.
For the little ones, but also for those who want an adrenaline experience in complete safety, there are the adventure parks or “forest acrobatic routes”, such as Cerwood in the Reggio Emilia’a area and the Park of the 100 adventures in the Parma area.
Autumn in the Park is a season full of colors and flavors, to which many initiatives are dedicated. The woods donate mushrooms, chestnuts and truffles, giving the opportunity to organize many food festivals: the perfect opportunity to indulge in the pleasures of the palate while enjoying the many local products.
Furthermore, the mild climate still allows the numerous outdoor activities, including climbing on the most complete rock gym of the whole Emilia Romagna Region: the Pietra di Bismantova.
Inside the Park there are several places that allow to practice of winter sports.
For alpine skiing, the ski resorts are Cerreto Laghi (with about 30 km of slopes of varying difficulty and a large covered ice arena), Febbio (with the “2000” slope that reaches the altitude that gives it its name, and a total of 25 km of slopes), Ventasso Laghi and Prato Spilla.
For cross-country skiing, a reference point is NeveNatura center in Pianvallese, a stone’s throw from Febbio, which allows cross-country skiing along a 3.5 km loop.
Snowshoe lovers can take part in the many excursions organized by the shelters and the Briganti di Cerreto cooperative, even at night with the full moon.
Spring – Monte Prado
Summer – Pietra di Bismantova
Autumn – Fall Foliage
Winter – Monte Cusna
3 places not to be missed
- Pietra di Bismantova | Compared by Dante to the mountain of Purgatory, it is a rocky massif with an unmistakable ship-shaped profile that stands isolated in the landscape of the Reggio Apennines. Its history and the very different environments that can be found along its paths have made it a distinctive place for the inhabitants, unmissable for visitors.
- The “snaps” of the Secchia | Local term that indicates that stretch of the torrent north of Cerreto Alpi, where the River Secchia flows between spectacular sheer slopes. The phenomenon, characteristic of this part of the Apennines, marks the course of numerous other torrents.
- Lago Santo Parmense | Among the numerous lakes in the area, the Lago Santo Parmense is the largest lake of glacial origin in the Northern Apennines. It can be reached from Lagdei via comfortable paths or by chairlift. Near the lake there’s the Rifugio Mariotti, where to find refreshment and overnight accommodation.
The Northern Apennines is a sweet mountain, easily accessible and walkable thanks to a rich trail network.
Among the easiest walks we suggest the one that from Ventasso Laghi goes up through the beech forest to the Lago Calamone (in 10 min) and from here to the peat bog of Lago Verde, through grasslands in the shadow of Mount Ventasso; from the lake you can reach the summit in an hour and a half round-trip walk. A variation of the route leads to Pratizzano, a vast plain between meadows and woods (+45 min).
In the Corniglio area, another easy excursion of great charm is the one on Lagdei plain: from here the chairlift leads to the Lago Santo Parmense, which you can walk around in about 30 minutes.
Other itineraries of great suggestion are around the villages of Cerreto Laghi and Cerreto Alpi, like the one that leads to discover the Lago Pranda and the surrounding lakes (from Cerreto Laghi, a circuit of about 1 h and 45 min) or, for the more daring ones, the path from the Pranda to the peak of Mount la Nuda (2 h), or the path that descends from Cerreto Alpi into the ravine of Schiocchi, dug by the river Secchia (complete round-trip walk from Cerreto 2 h). In addition, the trail that leads to the Secchia springs starts from the Cerreto pass (45 min).
Another itinerary of particular charm, in the area of Villa Minozzo, is the ring route with departure and return to the Springs of Poiano, the main carsic springs of Emilia-Romagna, during which it is possible to admire the majestic walls of the Triassic gypsums of the Secchia river.
The ridge of the park is also walkable following the first stages of the Alta Via dei Parchi, the long itinerary in 27 stages that allows to cross the Apennines between Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Marche.
The regional headquarters of the Park is located in Ligonchio (RE); in addition, there are many visitor centers in Emilia Romagna (Ramiseto, Collagna, Civago, Ligonchio, Sologno, Ramiseto and Corniglio) where you can receive all the information you need to fully enjoy this territory.
How to get there
The park is easily accessible by car, thanks to the proximity of major cities such as Bologna, Florence, Genoa and Milan. Here all the directions on how to get there.