A home in Emilia Romagna is the perfect base for walking and trekking in Italy. Emilia Romagna has hundreds of itineraries and properties for sale that allow you to experience the Apennine mountains in all their pristine glory, plus enjoy a variety of outdoor sports and leisure activities into the bargain. When you're not there, it can earn rental income from summer holiday lets, and it pays for itself.
The Regional Park in the Reggiano Upper Apennines, or Parco del Gigante, the commonly used name, is one of the largest in the Emilia region and contains within its boundaries a great variety of locations and environments of important naturalistic and scenic value. These include some of the highest peaks in the north Apennine range, from which you can enjoy extensive views over inaccessible valleys, extensive forests and wide hill-top grasslands. Many of the plant species found here form part of the region's rare flora and the Apennine fauna is also well represented. In the east, after the Passo delle Forbici, the protected area continues in the Regional Park of the Modenese Upper Apennine area; Parco dell'Orecchiella extends along the part towards Tuscany
Parco del Gigante
The Parco del Gigante include some of the highest peaks in the north Apennine range, from which you can enjoy extensive views over inaccessible valleys, extensive forests and wide hill-top grasslands. Many of the plant species found here form part of the region's rare flora and the Apennine fauna is also well represented. In the east, after the Passo delle Forbici, the protected area continues in the Regional Park of the Modenese Upper Apennine area; Parco dell'Orecchiella extends along the part towards Tuscany
The upper Liocca Valley
From Succiso Nuovo (990 m) you arrive at Lago di Monte Acuto (1580 m), passing through beech woods, glacial terrains and peat bogs, with possible sightings of interesting fauna. A quick descent, with beautiful views over the Liocca and Passo di Pietra Tagliata valleys, leads to the valley floor, from where the northwest slope of the Alpe di Succiso climbs up again, in places exposed and rocky, until reaching the mountain hut Rifugio Rio Pascolo (1570 m); a partially paved old mule track leads back to the village. Paths 653, 659, 673, 655. Time needed: 6 hours
The Secchia springs
An easy path from the Cerreto Pass (1261 m), between fields and margins of forests, skirts round the slopes of Monte Alto and leads to the wide hollow of the Secchia springs (1510 m). Carrying on as far as Passo di Pietra Tagliata (1779 m), you can observe rare flowers in the surrounding rocky grasslands and admire the wide depression at the head of the Liocca Valley. A highly scenic route from the pass, suitable only for expert trekkers, reaches Alpe di Succiso and Sella del Monte Casarola. Path: 671. Time needed: 3 hours (back and forth)
A short climb from the Pradarena Pass (1575 m.) leads to the mountain summit (1855 m); a ring-shaped route continues along the whole length of the mountain slopes. The path runs along the edge of the wood, on the margins of pastures and grasslands, and then under shady beech woods , passing over springs and streams; mushrooms and orchids can be found in the undergrowth. Some outcrops of rocks can be seen in the Quartiere area (1400 m). Paths 643, 645, 00. Time needed: 5 hours.
Pietra di Bismantova, Lake Calamone and Monte Ventasso
From the bridge over the Ricco brook (890 m), at Busana, through sunny clearings and mixed woods of oaks which are gradually replaced by beeches, you reach the ancient oratory of St. Maria Maddelena (1502 m), at one time a place of hermitage, with a beautiful view of the Pietra di Bismantova and the Secchia valley. Carrying on at high altitude you pass a number of strips of detritus and you quickly descend to the lake (1398 m); a track climbs steeply beyond the last beeches bent over by the wind, and passing through low grasslands, leads to the summit of Monte Ventasso (1727 m). Paths: 661, 663. Time needed: 4 hours (back and forth)
The Lavacchiello Waterfalls and the Prati di Sara
From Ligonchio (923 m), you climb along the Ozola stream as far as the artificial basin at Presa alta (1230 m); after having forded the stream, go up the steep slope until reaching the Lavacchiello Waterfalls and then the Prati di Sara (Sara fields) (1610 m). On the way back, after having passed Presa alta, you can continue along the rough path until meeting the 653 Decauville path, which retraces the route of a railway line built at the beginning of the century for the construction of the Ozola dam, and which is in places very scenic, affording a wide view over the Schiocchi dell'Ozola and the massive form of Monte Cusna. Paths: 635, 633. Time needed: 6 hours.
Abetina Reale and the Lama Lite Pass
From Civago (1042 m), you follow once again part of the ancient Via delle Forbici road, through abandoned pastures and mixed woods of beech and silver firs, until reaching the former Abetina Reale sawmill (1410 m). Carry on towards the pastures and meadows of the Lama Lite Pass (1781 m) and Monte Prado. The pass is a short distance from Lake Bargetana and the Rifugio Battisti mountain hut, a starting point for numerous excursions to Monte Cusna and the Tuscany-Emilia ridge. You can return to Civago via Passone (path 607), along the Alpe di Vallestrina and Monte Ravino ridge. Path: 605. Time needed: 4 hours (back and forth).
From Quara to the bridge of Cadignano and to Fontanaluccia/Gazzano
The itinerary is suitable to single excursionists of small groups as well as for families or organized excursionists who, perhaps, prefer to rely on an environmentalist guide of the area.
The 80 km of so of the Matilde path, technically easy, is for the most part, along mule paths, carriage roads, gravel roads and paths. They allow you to reach, starting from the plains, the Apennine ridge, the dividing line between the Tyrrhenian and the Adriatic seas. The itinerary goes from Vico di Ciano d'Enza up to S. Pellegrino in Alpe, in spite of it being done by experienced walkers in 3-4 days, it has been purposely designed to be undertaken in 7 easy stages. This is to allow for a detailed visit of the area. There are numerous points of historical and architectural interest which you encounter along the route, from the main castles of Matilde, to the sandstone tower-houses which dot the landscape, to the Romanesque parishes. And not the least, slowly walking along favors gastronomic encounters which, being in the heart of Emilia, are not lacking: we would like to cite the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese produced in small scattered dairies, or the traditional Balsamic vinegar ( first used on the cliff of Canossa), the mushrooms, the chestnuts
From Quara you retrace your steps up to the junction before Castagnola (about 590 m). From here you take the mule-track which cuts the steep hillside of the Dolo heading south, you cross Malpasso over a small precarious wooden bridge and continue to a height of the 500 m up to Cadignano (587m) and into the Villa Minozzo municipality.
Above you there's the village of Gova, famous as the neighbouring villages of Costabona and Morsiano famous for their May festivals, typically Apennine in flavour and performed in Mediaeval costumes.
The stretch from Quara to Cadignano is one of the most interesting regarding landscape within the Sentiero Matilde, passing the gorges and the ravines created by the water of the Dolo torrent. From Cadignano you descend along a path down to the riverbed where a single-lane hump back bridge dating from the Middle Ages allows you to cross the torrent and go in to Modena province. This is the Frassinolo municipality, seat of the ancient abbey founded in 1071 by Beatrice di Lorena, Matilde's mother.
The trail continues for about 14 km following the Dolo river and climbing up a mule-track to Romanoro (1695m), with a scenic view of the entire valley. From here a rural road going downhill connects to the hamlets of Montale (675m) and Panigale (707m), where you continue across the hillside and taking advantage of a road which is closed to traffic (locally called il tracciolino) which brings you after 4.5 km the dam and artificial lake on the Dolo (744m). From here you can stop at the nearby village of Gazzano (812m) or Fontanaluccia (788m).
The Matilde path is entirely marked and charted. Horizontal markings are constituted by red-white-red painted marks while for vertical markings there are metallic arrows along the entire route which indicate the near-by destination, the intermediate one and the final one. On the tip of the arrows are marked with the initials SM.