The Casentinesi forests, Monte Falterona and Campigna National Park
Nature & Outdoor

The Casentinesi forests, Monte Falterona and Campigna National Park

by /// August 31, 2021 /// Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Nature & Outdoor

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Nature & Outdoor

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Nature & Outdoor

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Nature & Outdoor

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The “The Casentinesi forests, Monte Falterona and Campigna National Park” is a national nature park established in 1993 and located on the Apennines ridge between Tuscany and Emilia Romagna, straddling the provinces of Forlì-Cesena, Arezzo and Florence.

It is a vast protected area rich in age-old woods, mystical sanctuaries, and bursting waterfalls, whose beech forests have been recognized as World Heritage Sites.

Furthermore, the entire area has recently included in the IUCN’s “Green List” (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) of the most important parks in the world for natural preservation and sustainable management.

At the origins of park

Talking about history, the area between Emilia Romagna and Tuscany was inhabited by Etruscan peoples, who crossed this strip of land to connect the south part of Etruria with the Po Valley. A real passage between two portions of the Etruscan kingdom sanctioned by the presence of the “Idols Lake“, a place where these ancient Italic people venerated their divinities.

In the Middle Ages, the valleys and mountains of this part of the Apennines became the crossroads of many routes traveled by pilgrims from the North and East Europe.

During the Renaissance, the territory passed under the rule of Florence who administered it through the “Opera Laica del Duomo di Firenze“. It was a secular institution that managed these Forests and that used this wood for the construction of various buildings including the Brunelleschi’s Dome in Florence and used the huge firs to build the mast trees of the Pisa and Livorno naval fleets.

From a natural point of view, the territory of the Casetinesi Forests has remained unspoiled until today thanks also to the monastic settlements of San Romualdo and Camaldoli founded in 1212 and of San Francesco d’Assisi in La Verna in 1213.

During the centuries the Park has impressed and influenced saints, painters, writers, and artists of all kinds. Among the most illustrious visitors that the park includes it is the great poet and writer Dante Alighieri, who was particularly impressed by the Acquacheta waterfall, which was also celebrated in his Poem “La Divina Commedia“.

What To Do

Spring

Undoubtedly the best season to experience the Park. Like every year, after a long and severe winter, the Primeval beech forests of the Park awaken with all the vital energy expressed by intense green and by the gushing of the mountain springs and streams.

Impossible to resist: walking, cycling or just breathing in this ever-changing nature is an experience that we recommend not to miss.

Summer

Summer is the season of sun, walks in the open air, and endless days. The Park is a vast environment that, especially in the summer, offers the possibility of long hikes, mountain biking, horseback riding, or donkeys.

Among the many activities to be carried out in summer, it is also possible to take boat trips on Lake of Ridracoli. There is nothing better than being outdoors in ancient forests, enjoying the special climate that these areas offer especially in the summer.

  • Fallow deer fighting | Ph. © Giacomini, via Foreste Casentinesi Park
  • La Verna Sanctuary | Ph. © Giacomini, via Foreste Casentinesi Park
  • Osteria del Terrore, Valley of Ridracoli | Ph. © Locatelli, via Foreste Casentinesi Park
  • Fox (Vulpes vulpes) | Ph. © Sauli, via Foreste Casentinesi Park
  • Autumn | Ph. © Giacomini, via Foreste Casentinesi Park
  • Wolf’s footprint (Canis lupus) | Ph. © Capaccioli, via Foreste Casentinesi Park
  • Foreste Casentinesi National Park | Ph. © Liverani, via Foreste Casentinesi Park
  • Acquacheta Waterfalls | Ph. © Del Vecchio, via Foreste Casentinesi Park

Autumn

Autumn is the season of colors and fragrances in the Park of the Casentinesi Forests: from the bright colors of the forest at the end of the month of October to the deer’s roars at the end of September to the richness of the mountain gastronomic tradition Tuscany and Emilia Romagna.

From September onwards every day is like a great kaleidoscope, with colors and smells of nature waiting for the frost and winter snows.

Winter

The snowy peaks, the icy climate, the sun above the mists of the plain, the infinite horizons that range from the Adriatic sea to the Alps, and the colors and the emotions of the nights lit by the moonlight reflected in the snow.

And then snowshoeing hiking and all other activities. Winter is no longer the season of waiting, but a season of pure emotions, when most of the animals are hibernating and nature anxiously awaits the return to spring life.

3 places not to be missed

  • The Acquacheta Falls
    The Acquacheta river is the most important tributary of the Montone river and before reaching the village of San Benedetto in Alpe it makes a jump of over 70 meters in the homonymous waterfall.
    The waterfall, described by Dante Alighieri in the “Divine Commedy”, can only be reached through a hike of a couple of hours that goes up the valley reaching, just upstream of the waterfall, the suggestive “Piana dei Romiti” with the ruins of an ancient village.
  • The Idols Lake
    The “Idols Lake” is the most important archaeological site in the Park, where it is collected one of the most conspicuous testimonies of the ancient Etruscan cult. Located in Ciliegeta (1380 m), south of the top of Mount Falterona and a few hundred meters from the Arno river spring, it is geographically the central point connecting the Tuscan and Emilian Apennines.
    In the VI century BC, the Etruscans considered Mount Falterona sacred and therefore threw their offers into the lake of Ciliegeta, near the sources of the Arno river. From 1838 until today, numerous Etruscan finds have been found, some of which are kept at the British Museum in London and at the Louvre in Paris.
  • La Verna Sanctuary
    In May 1213 Count Orlando Cattani from Chiusi donated to San Francesco the “La Verna” Mount. It is the beginning of the story of one of the most deeply imbued places of mysticism in the West.
    The limestone cliff culminating in Monte Penna rises abruptly from the bed of clay on which it floats: the rocks are covered by the forest, preserved in its rich variety for almost eight centuries of Franciscan management, that saw the forest as an expression of the power of God to be respected and venerated.
    But the Sanctuary of La Verna is also a place deeply imbued with religious spirituality, here in 1224 St. Francis received the Stigmata, and always here the Saint had the opportunity to contemplate the profound link between man and natural creation that will be then a distinctive feature of his preaching.

Visitors Centers

The “The Casentinesi forests, Monte Falterona and Campigna National Park”, due to the antiquity and the complexity of the environment that it preserves, include as many as 15 different Visitor Centers spread throughout the territory and with different themes and insights according to the environments.

It goes from the visitors center dedicated to the geology and thermal baths in the village of Bagno di Romagna to the one dedicated to the Apennine Fauna in Premilcuore, passing by the many botanical gardens set up inside the Park territory.

How to get there

By Cars

In Tuscany you can reach the Park by taking the highway A1 (Milano-Roma), at the toll gates of Barberino del Mugello, Firenze and Arezzo:
From Barberino, beyond Borgo San Lorenzo, and from Firenze, on the SS road 67, you can reach the Municipalities of San Godenzo and Londa.
From Firenze, beyond Pontassieve, take the SR road 70 to reach the Municipalities of Pratovecchio, Stia, Poppi, and Bibbiena.
From Arezzo, along the SR road 71, you can reach the Municipalities of Bibbiena, Poppi, Pratovecchio, and Stia; from Bibbiena, by taking SP 208, you can reach the Municipalities of Chiusi della Verna.

From Romagna you can reach the Park by taking the highway A14 (Bologna-Rimini), at the tollgates of Faenza, Forlì, and Cesena:
From Faenza, along the Tramazzo valley, you can reach the Municipality of Tredozio.
From Forlì, along the Montone valley (SS.67), Rabbi valley (SP 3) and Bidente valley (SP 4), you can reach Portico-San Benedetto, Premilcuore, and Santa Sofia respectively.
From Cesena, along the Savio valley by taking E45, you can reach the Municipality of Bagno di Romagna.

By Train

In Tuscany, you can reach the Park by train from the railway stations of Bibbiena, Poppi, Pratovecchio and Stia in Casentino; Pontassieve and Contea-Londa in Mugello.
In Romagna you can reach the Park by train from the railway stations of Faenza, Forlì, and Cesena;
Trains timetable is available at Trenitalia Official Web Site

Public Transport

In Toscana, you can reach the Park by taking the bus service SITA and LFI
In Romagna, you can reach the Park by taking the bus service Start Romagna

Author

Walter Manni

Explorer and Adventurer: loves sailing the oceans, climbing the highest mountains and surfing on the waves of the web

This article has 2 comments

  • Simonetta Milli Konewko

    Congratulations for the great work. Some places mentioned here and associated with the region of Emilia Romagna belong to the region of Tuscany. For instance, it is confusing to mention La Verna Sanctuary in this context. Thanks for your consideration.

    • Walter Manni

      Hi Simonetta,
      The Foreste Casentinesi National Park is an interregional park and therefore some of its top spots can fall into the neighboring regions.
       
      Thank you for writing us.
      Walter – InEmiliaRomagna Staff

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