The Lake (and its dam) of Ridracoli: a paradise amidst the Casentinesi Forests
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
Try to Imagine an immense reservoir, hidden in the woods and concealed from view, that can contain up to 33 billion liters of water.
So you see an immense stretch of blue, where the hills surrounding it dive into this great expanse of water. All around is a crown of woods and shrubs as far as the eye can see, and an endless expanse of such green colours that would make even an impressionist painter cry of joy if they were on his palette.
Maybe, this description sounds a little fictionalized, but such a place does exist for real: it is an important area of the wider National Park of the Casentino Forests, Mount Falterona, and Campigna, on the border between Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany.
We are on the banks of the RIDRACOLI RESERVOIR, in an area that still oozes remote human traces, characterized by a network of small medieval villages, full of charm and history, such as Santa Sofia, Bagno di Romagna, Premilcuore, Portico e San Benedetto in Alpe.
Here, when one season ends and another begins, nature always offers suggestive views: the woods are populated by thousands of animal and plant species, to the point that you can cross the entire park in all its extension without ever leaving the luxuriant green cloak that surrounds it.
It took almost ten years to build the artificial basin of Lake Ridracoli. I say artificial, because it was mankind to decide the fate of this place. Before the 1980s, this area was meant to become like many other places of the surroundings.
The large dam’s construction started in the late 1970s, with the aim of meeting the drinking water needs of the Romagna area.
Placed at an altitude of 557 meters above sea level, this massive construction was built in perfect balance with the surrounding environment, collecting the waters of the rivers Bidente and Rio Celluzze, and consequently flooding three valley branches.
Today, seen from above, the lake appears very similar to a fjord of Northern Europe; narrow and long, it eleganly slides into the woods for about 5 kilometers.
It is the most beloved destination for anyone who visits the Casentinesi Forest Park, offering several ways to spend a peaceful day, breathing serenity and enjoying a wonderful and unusual landscape.
The area around the dam has numerous nature trails, but the most popular path is certainly the one that leads to the refuge Ca’ di Sopra. The route is not very demanding, it’s a round trip of about 5 km with breathtaking views on the lake, the dam but also on a large portion of the local fauna (fallow deers, roe deers, deers, etc.)
If you book soon enough, you can also sleep in the refuge (but be quick, there are just a few places!) If you want to eat something, there is also a little local restaurant, but you can also choose to have a packed lunch and use the picnic facilities available outside.
From the refuge, you can choose whether to continue along with one of the many waymarked paths and go into the nature reserve, or wait in the sun for the best time to return home. If you chose the latter option, you could cross the lake, on foot or using an electric boat, and enjoy this natural wonder from another point of view, especially at sunset.
However, you can discover this area in many other ways: you can rent a canoe or explore the surrounding woods renting one of the many available e-bikes.
In addition, the park offers an educational programme for schools, individuals, and families that deserves a mention. In this regard, we recommend visiting IDRO – the Ecomuseum of the Waters of Ridracoli. It is an unusual museum, arranged over four floors, which explores the secrets of the forest and water with the help of touch screens, augmented reality viewers, models, experiments, and interactive games, making the visit for adults and children alike even more interesting.