The Emilian Apennines is a beautiful, panoramic, natural environment. 969 sq. kilometres of mountains and hills which, with Mount Cusna (“Il Gigante”) reaches to over 2,000 meters in height. The mountain community consists of thirteen municipalities which are situated in three main valleys created by the rivers Secchia, Enza and Dolo.
The valleys at their origin are narrow then drop steeply towards the Pianura, the plain which stretches from Reggio to Milan. The irregular Apennine peaks mark the border between Emilia and Tuscany and in the middle of these peaks sits the Bismantova, a magnificent sandstone plateau. Its structure, awesome and mysterious, is a breathtaking symbol of the whole region. The meadow on top of the plateau abounds with junipers, bilberries and wild flowers while the lower levels are populated by oak, beech and chestnut trees. The area also has its lakes, Calamone, Acuto and Cerreto. The fauna of the area is typical of woodland: foxes, roe deer, kestrels, squirrels, eagle-owls and wild boar while the rives have otters, trout, crayfish and barbells in abundance. Eagles have reappeared recently and high in the top peaks the European grey wolf has been reintroduced successfully to complete the environmental harmony.
The Triassic rocks of the Secchia valley are the oldest in the region, being easily recognisable by their white hues. However there is also a mixture of rock ranging from volcanic to sedimentary. The zone is also rich in thermal springs such as those found at Poiano and Quara.
The history of the land sinks into the mists of time, reaching its peak in the Middle Ages during the time of Queen Matilda of Canossa. Castles and churches are remnants of this period which is still celebrated in local customs and folklore. Queen Matilda’s fame came from her mediation between the Pope and German Emperor, who came to the Castle of Conossa to ask forgiveness of the Pope. In fact, the local saying of ‘going to Canossa’ is synonymous with asking for forgiveness in the local dialects.
Throughout many centuries pilgrims have walked the paths of the Apennines to reach sanctuaries and in time the original pagan traditions were replaced with those of Christianity. Place names of the region reflect the progress of these particular pilgrims.
The area of Reggio’s Apennine mountain community has a surface of 969 sq. kilometres, 23,416 ha of which are national park. Divided into 13 municipalities, the mountain community ranges from less than 200 metes above sea level, in the lower hills, to over 2,100 meters on the Apennine ridges. According of the census of 2001 the population of the territory is 43,417.
The province of Reggio has a rich, natural and unpolluted environment to offer visitors. The inauguration of the national parks in the area, natural oases and sign posted paths enable people to gain the utmost enjoyment from the area.
Abetina Reale is an estate occupying 800 hectares of beech, silver fir and Norwegian spruce. It is reached from Civago, climbing a track that follows the course of the Dolo river to the meadows which surround the refuge at Segheria and the Lama Lite pass (1765 m) where the refuge of Cesare Battisti is located. The whole of the Ozola valley between Logonchio and the peaks of Mt Cavalbianco, Mt Cusna and Mt Prado, is a state forest that extends over a surface of 1770 hectares thick with beech, fir and Scotch pine. The fauna comprises Roe deer, wild boar, marmots, foxes, badgers and dormice. A particularly interesting excursion crosses the Apennine range from the Radici Pass to the Lagastrello Pass, the entire journey takes about 20 hours at a good pace.
The Gigante Park, established in 1988 and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine National Park is an area of more than 17,000 hectares within the communities of Busana, Collagna, Ramiseto and Villa Minozzo. It comprises the lakes and main peaks of the Apennine range and also the area of Mt. Ventasso. The main reception centres are the Rio Pascolo centre and the Citta di Sarzano at Mt Acuto’s lake.
The Pietra di Bismantova, at Castelnovo ne’ Monti is a large plateau rising 1,074 metres. It can be reached along two paths (and up a steep road); one running beside the Benedictine hermitage, the other from the hamlet of Pavoni di Castelnovo ne Monti. The rock is a climbers paradise with about fifty routes and climbing variants.
Not far from the Pietra di Bismantova, overlooking the Secchia valley, stands reliefs rising to a maximum height of 900 m, consisting of rock formations that originated some 20 million years ago, these are the Triassic gypsum deposits. The reliefs are those of Mt Rosso, Mt Merlo, Mt Caru and Mt La Pianellina, which are home to a large variety of protected botanic species.
Abetone is Rich in history and culture, Abetone offers you the best of winter and summer, with a distinctive local cuisine. It boasts several Tuscan-style restaurants. Typical food from this area includes mushrooms, cheese, cured meats and frutti di bosco (wild berries). Characteristic is the local pecorino cheese. Tuscany (Toscana) is one of the most beautiful and popular tourist destinations in Italy. It is a region of natural contrasts from gentle rolling hills to dramatic mountains. Its varied landscape is complemented by towns overflowing with Renaissance art and architecture.
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