[Emilia Romagna Villages] Sestola: the fortress and the mountain
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Located in the Frignano Park, strategically located on the border between Tuscany and Emilia Romagna, the small town of Sestola rises on the slopes of Mount Cimone on a rock spur dominated by the ancient Castle. Renowned for being one of the best ski resorts in the Apennines, the small hamlet is also a perfect destination for nature lovers, mountain bikers and hikers of all ages: the variety and beauty of its natural territory can be visited and lived through all phases of the year.
The village of Sestola has very ancient origins so much that its name would be derived from Sextus, an ancient Roman general who was entrusted with the custody of this entire mountainous area. Ancient Romans or less, the first written testimonies of Sestola’s dwelling date back to 753 AD, when King Longobard Astolfo had a gift from then Castrum Sextulae to the territories adjacent to the Abbey of Nonantola. Around the fourteenth century the town of Sestola adhered to the Signoria degli Estensi, becoming the capital of the province of Frignano and ending a long period of struggles between the cities of Bologna and Modena, who contended for control. At the time, Sestola was a fortress placed in the guard of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine border with great importance both in defensive and commercial traffic control with Rome and the South of the peninsula. Its extraordinary mountainous area and the variety of reliefs make it at the beginning of the last century a privileged place for excursions to the newborn Italian Alpine Club, a process that will transform the small town on the basis of the many excursions on Mount Cimone, the mountainous hill higher than the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine bow. The beautiful nature, coupled with the gentle slopes of the foot steps, also led to the progressive transformation into ski resort, which still makes it one of the best and most well-equipped winter sports resorts in the entire Italian Apennines.
The territory of Sestola extends from 321 m. of Fondovalle Scoltenna to 2165 m. of Monte Cimone, with a different environmental structure according to altitude and with a diverse nature. What we recommend is therefore to visit the territory with the nature and beautiful scenery that these hills offer.
For example, the end of the Valley area is the one with the highest presence of chestnuts, oaks and grapes, grain and other cereals are grown there. Located mainly in the valley of the Rio Vesale is divided between the Sestola fractions. It is the most interesting area from the historical point of view and the one that under the environmental aspect has undergone minor transformations, being always cultivated and worked by the local populations. It was crossed by the oldest road of communication between Modena and Tuscany, from the redone bridge of Val di Sasso to Trentino di Fanano, from where it climbs to the Passage of the Arcane Cross on the ridge.
The mountain area, on the other hand, through the tourist resorts of Pian del Falco and Passo del Lupo, culminates in the summit of Cimone, an important appenninic flora station. A natural place for winter sports practice, in summer it is the realm of beech, apricot and high altitude pastures. It is the uninhabited area until a few hundred years ago, which has undergone major environmental transformations: the centuries-old beech trees were cut down to make the pastures first and then to feed the coal industry. Today, the upstream area of Sestola includes Lake Ninfa, a charming and enchanting pond set at a height of 1,503 meters and an excellent starting point for a variety of walks and excursions around the area.
Interesting is the Garden Esperia near the lake, a ecological-educational oasis of national importance on the spontaneous apennine flora and the alpine mountain introduced by C.A.I. of Modena and can be visited from May to September. Do not miss a visit to the ancient castle of Sestola, an ancient fortress that in time hosted a prison, a weather observatory to host today the Museum of Montanara Civilization and the Museum of Musical Instrumental Mechanics. We also note that in two rooms used until the Second World War as kitchens, documents, photographs, dresses and scenes belonging to Sestolese soprano Teresina Burchi Reiter are exhibited.
Spring: walks on Mount Cimone, good food, mountain summer sports, bike areas and Downhill; if you are looking for activities to do in Sestola Spring you only have the choice of choice.
Summer: spending a weekend or part of your summer vacation in Sestola means enjoying fresh, airy evenings, days at the lake shore and sunsets in the mountains, not far from the cities of Modena, Florence and Bologna.
Autumn: Autumn is the season of foliage, cool colors that allow long and tiring hikes and, if you are lucky, the first snow of the season.
Winter: Sestola is the queen of the mountain resorts of the Apennines, with its more than 50 km of perfectly snow-covered ski slopes, also from many artificial cannons, allows you to enjoy ski days in any weather conditions.
The country’s most important events are the Chocolate and Crunch Games, the second weekend of October, entirely dedicated to chocolate with chocolate dealers from all over Italy; the Medieval Feast / Reenactment at Sestola Castle, which takes place in the first weekend of September at the Fortress.
Food And Wine
From crescentine to borlenghi, from croccanti to ciacci, passing through typical products such as mushrooms, chestnuts and cheeses: the Appennino Modenese proposes a repertoire of flavors absolutely to be discovered. Sestola’s tradition is unique in fusing timeless recipes with the latest trends in cooking. Among the many products of the kitchen we can mention the traditional “crescentina”, which in the mountains is different than in the city, a specialty par excellence from many known as “Tigella”, from the name of the instrument used to cook it, seasoned with lard and Parmigiano Reggiano produced directly from local dairies.
Path and Pilgrim Ways
For all those who are hiking fans we would like to point out that the nearby village of Fanano is crossed by the two-way routes to Rome of Emilia Romagna: Via Romea Nonantolana and Via Romea Strata or Longobarda.
They are two of the main characters born in Sestola who in their view have gone up to the honors of the chronicles. As mentioned above, this is the Sestolese soprano Teresina Burchi Reiter, famous and applauded Wagner interpreter of the early twentieth century and Ida Galli, film actress who in her career worked with filmmakers of the likes of Fellini, Visconti and then affirmed also in genre cinema Italian of the 70s.