The Enza river, which marks the border between Parma and Reggio Emilia, forms a valley rich in ancient villages, large pastures and woods. It’s possible to plan an itinerary to explore it in one or more days, following one of the most evocative paths of Emilia-Romagna, the Ducati Trail, promoted by CAI Reggio Emilia. It consists in 11 stages, along 160 kilometres, from 150 meters above sea level of the village of Quattro Castella to over 1200 meters above sea level of the Lagastrello Pass. The route continues in Lunigiana, Tuscany, and arrives to the sea.
A trip in the landscape of the UNESCO MaB Reserve of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, through places rich in history and natural landscapes, still not well known: from the castles of the Canossa family on the hills of Reggio, to the passes of the high Apennines.
An important feature is that the path can be also done by mountain bike: the cycle-hiking trail largely follows the same route as the trekking, sharing many intermediate stages. Finally, it is also possible to follow the Ducati trail by car, keeping in mind the stages of trekking and stopping at the main points of interest.
We propose an evocative stage, both for the landscape, and for the villages that it crosses: the fourth stage, from Vetto to Castagneto, that takes on average 6 hours and 30 minutes on foot.
A hike with a significant elevation difference, passing through the ancient villages of the Enza vally, with extensive views and geological outcroppings, including the spectacular sandstone site called "Pizzoni", reachable from the village of Cereggio with a detour for expert hikers.
Important note: the route has no refreshment places, except for Montedello (restaurant) and Castagneto (restaurant with rooms). There are some fountains in the villages, but it is recommended to get equipped with water and food, as well as to wear clothing and footwear suitable for this kind of trekking.
All the maps of the stages are available on the official website, with the GPS tracks.
The path starts from the village of Vetto and it is always indicated with the white and red signs of the CAI and the letters SD with a small tower, near the square of the Town Hall; leaving the town you face immediately a short climb in a forest that leads to Sole di Sopra, then down to the Lonza river. After the bridge, take the path on the left, indicated by the white and red signs SD, and go through the valley, passing next to an ancient mill. Continue uphill to the villages of Gottano di Sotto and Sopra; this stretch of path is a climb inside a forest, between the river Lonza and Gottano di Sotto and it is recommended to pay attention to your orientation.
Once in Gottano di Sopra, it is worth exploring its alleys. There, turning between vaults and portals, there is also a small but interesting museum of peasant civilization, set up by a private citizen between the courtyard of their house and an ancient barn. Leaving the village, continue to the small Oratory of the Virgin of Ants, beyond which you enter the path, indicated by the initials SD, at an almost constant altitude on the ridge between Val Lonza and Val d'Enza up to the village of Cereggio.
Cereggio, another charming village to explore, located in a very panoramic position between the valleys of Enza and Lonza, with ancient architectures and suggestive alleys. Leaving Cereggio, continue for a short stretch on the SP57 road, until a sharp bend with a fork on the right that, along a convenient old mule track marked with the signs SD, leads to the village of Taviano.
For those who want to test themselves here there is a spectacular detour, reserved for expert hikers.
From Cereggio follow the Path 680A that, passing through an ancient chestnut woods, reaches a beautiful landscape that reaches its height beyond the locality "i Pizzoni": a slope with formations called "sandstones of Ranzano", shaped by atmospheric agents, in front of a wide view of the valleys of Enza and Cedra and the Apennine chain.
Later, after passing a deep ford and a difficult stretch on an active landslide, climb until Taviano, where you will rejoin the main route. It takes about 45 minutes more than the main route.
Leaving the small village of Taviano, continue along the path, always indicated by the initials SD and the red and white signs, for the village of Camporella and then get walking on the road to the next village of Montedello, until Castagneto, the final destination. These are ancient villages, inhabited since the Middle Ages, where visitors can see stone houses with ancient gates.