Vena del Gesso Romagnola Regional Park offers wonderful landscapes and great excursion chances.
This proposed itinerary, developing in the hilly part of the Park, among Brisighella, Riolo Terme and Casola Valsenio, can be done on foot and is suitable for everyone.
It evolves on three very fascinating hiking trails: “Carnè ring trail”(about 3h, in Italian Anello del Carnè), “Abyss Trail” (about 2h, in Italian Sentiero degli Abissi) and the “Crystals Trail” (2h and 30, Sentiero dei Cristalli).
Start and finish point of this first part of the itinerary is Cà Carnè Refuge, visitors centre of the Park in Brisighella; park the car in the entrance parking and reach the refuge with a 10 minute walk. Here you can visit the naturalistic museum.
From here, follow CAI 505 trail (first on the left) and reach the crest in Cà Angognano in about 20 minutes. Get on a paved road and take the 511 trail towards Vespignano; after 100m a big gate will stop you, so just turn left, right before the gate and follow the 511 trail.
At the end of Via Vespignano, the trail crosses the woods again and goes uphill until Castelnuovo Gypsum Crest, dominating Cà Plantè sinkhole.
With up and dowhills you will be back at the refuge.
The landscape in this area of the Park is typically karstic and of a great naturalistic interest; worth a mention are the sinkholes “Catino di Pilato”, twin sinkholes of Abisso Faenza, “Dolina del Gufo”, along with the presence of protected plant species such as Erythronium dens-canis and some varieties of orchids.
The second part of this itinerary also starts from cà Carnè visitors’ centre: it is an easy hike called the Abyss Trail and it leads visitors to the entrance to the many Abysses of the area (only expert speleologists can adventure inside!), in Monte Rontana and around the sinkholes. Just follow the directions with SA (Sentiero Abissi).
This part of the itinerary is interesting from a geological and naturalistic point of view, with woods and different plants according to the season: hellebore, snowdrop, windflower and primrose.
The last part of this itinerary is the Crystals Trail. From Cà carnè parking, drive for about 40 minutes (along SP23 and Via Monte Mauro) to reach Cà Castellina parking area. Follow CAI signs (red and white stripes on trees or rocks) to get to the beginning of this easy trail in the Monte Mauro area.
This trail allows you to visit from the outside the main quarries of lapis specularis (secondary gypsum) and also magnificent examples of karstic origins, such as sinkholes and blind valleys.
Here, it is possible to encounter the rare Persian fern, badgers, porcupines or even the elusive Great Owl or Peregrine falcon.