Nature & OutdoorNature & Outdoor

The Lake (and its dam) of Ridracoli: a paradise amidst the Casentinesi Forests

by /// January 2, 2023
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

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Imagine an immense artificial lake that can contain up to 33 billion litres of water, surrounded by hills sinking in a great, deep-blue water mass.

All around an endless expanse of greenery, whose colours are so intense that would make even an impressionist painter cry of joy.

This description may sound a little overstated, but such a place does exist for real, and is located inside the National Park of the Casentino Forests, Monte Falterona and Campigna, on the border between Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany.

We are on the banks of the RIDRACOLI RESERVOIR, in an area populated by small medieval villages full of charm and history (Santa Sofia, Bagno di Romagna, Premilcuore, Portico and San Benedetto in Alpe).

Here, when one season ends and another begins, nature always offers suggestive views. The woods, populated by thousands of animal and plant species, cover all the territory, to the point that you can cross the entire park in all its extension without ever leaving the lush green cloak surrounding it.

Lago di Ridracoli (Bagno di Romagna, FC)
Ridracoli Lake (Bagno di Romagna, FC) | Photo © ridracoli.it

The origin of the lake

It took almost ten years to build the artificial basin of Lake Ridracoli. Before the 1980s (the first idea of the project dates back to the ‘50s), this area looked like many others of the surroundings.

The construction began at the end of the ‘70s, with the aim to meet the drinking water needs of a large part of the Romagna territory.

Located at 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.

Lago di Ridracoli (Bagno di Romagna, FC)
Ridracoli Lake (Bagno di Romagna, FC) | Photo © Massimo Sanchini, via ridracoli.it

What to do in Ridracoli

Today, the lake appears very similar to a Northern-European fjord – narrow and long, it elegantly slides into the woods for about 5 kilometers.

It is the most beloved destination for anyone who visits the Park of the Casentino Forests, offering various ways to spend a peaceful day, breathing serenity and enjoying a wonderful and unusual landscape.

Hiking trails, areas for open-air picnics, excursion on electric boats, canoe trips and mountain-bike are just some of the activities that you can do in this area.

The whole territory around the offers many nature trails. The most beloved one is undoubtedly the one leading to Rifugio Ca’ di Sopra.

It is a 5km-long itinerary suitable for all, offering breath-taking views on the lake and the dam. You could also encounter members of the local fauna (such as fallow deers, roe deers, deers, etc.)

You can also sleep in the refuge, but remember to book in advance, there are just a few places. You can have lunch or dinner with local dishes at the refuge, or use the picnic facilities available outside.

From the refuge, you can choose whether to continue along one of the many marked trails and immerse into nature, or lie down in the sun waiting for the best moment to take the way back.

You can go back on foot or with the electric boat, offering an extraordinary view of the territory, especially at sunset.

Lago di Ridracoli
Ridracoli Lake (Bagno di Romagna, FC) | Photo © Massimo Sanchini, via ridracoli.it

But there’s more! The lake offers many different kinds of activities. You can rent a canoe to get around the basin or an e-bike to discover the woods around it.

In addition, the park has also an educational programme for schools, individuals, and families that deserves a mention.

IDRO – the Ecomuseum of the Waters of Ridracoli, located at the entrance of the basin, is an unusual museum, where water and the territory are the protagonists.

Arranged over four floors, it tells the secrets of the surrounding water and woods, thanks to touch screens, AR glasses, models, experiments and interactive games, making the visit even more interesting for both children and adults.

Author

Davide Marino

Davide Marino was born archaeologist but ended up doing other things. Rational – but not methodic, slow – but passionate. A young enthusiast with grey hair

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