In Reggio Apennines it is possible to find some red giant benches of the world circuit Big Bench Community Project. They are off-scale attractions, placed in particularly panoramic places, according to the project born in 2009 from an idea of the American designer Chris Bangle. The concept lies in the change of perspective given by the size of the bench, which makes people feel like a child, able to marvel at the beauty of the landscape, stopping to look at it with a more curious look. There are four Big Benches in this area: in Ligonchio, in Baiso, on Mount Fosola and in Castellarano. We will visit three of them, with an itinerary surrounded by nature, between hills and ridges, in the UNESCO MaB Reserve of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines.
The first Big Bench that we find going up from the plain is in Baiso. We have to arrive right in the center of the village, and park in the parking lot in front of the bar Castello. To reach the bench we must continue on foot for 25 minutes, following the path CAI 632, starting from Via Castello in Baiso. The bench is located on top of the hill La Balota and is orange. From here we can admire a panorama that goes from Mount Cimone and the Apennine ridge, up to the bridges of Calatrava in the city of Reggio Emilia. In the distance, if the day is clear, we can even see the Asinelli tower in Bologna and the Venetian pre-Alps. In the equipment of this Big Bench there is also an outdoor bookcase, located on the back of the bench, to borrow a book and read while relaxing, and even a selfie station: a wooden panel where you can place your phone to take a souvenir photo.
Returning back to the car, a lunch break is recommended in a Restaurant or a typical “trattoria”, to enjoy some local dishes, such as fried dumplings with local meats, tortelli with herbs or potatoes, meats and traditional cheeses.
In the second part of the day we move with a short trip of about 30 minutes by car, from Baiso to the Big Bench in mount Fosola, that can be reached from the village of Felina, in the municipality of Castelnovo nei Monti.
From Felina we go in the village of Tegge, next to Felina and stop the car here. From Tegge it is possible to reach the bench with a walk of 30 minutes gently uphill, along a driveway. Using the geolocation on the official website is recommended to understand exactly where to park. We have to pass the small villages of Tegge and Cantigalli, then continue until the asphalt road ends. There are signs indicating the Big Bench. It is possible, if you have time and are trained, to reach Mount Fosola from the Castle of Carpineti, along the Spallanzani Path, but in this case you have to consider a walk of about 1 hour and a half to go, and the same time to return.
This is the first Big Bench in Emilia Romagna, placed in 2018; it is located on a private farm and offers a truly breathtaking panoramic view of the Reggio Apennines, starting from the Bismantova Stone, sweeping the entire ridge with its valleys and mountains: Ventasso, Cavalibianco, Cusna. In addition, on the north side it it is possible to see the plain up to the Alps in the distance.
At this point, it is recommended to dine in one of the restaurants in the area, in Felina, Castelnovo ne'Monti or nearby areas, and then stay overnight and leave the next day to discover the third giant bench.
We head to Ligonchio, a charming village in the municipality of Ventasso, moving along the SP 18 from Busana, for a visit to the third Big Bench of this itinerary.
Starting from the square of upper Ligonchio, walking for about 20 minutes it is possible to reach Mount Croce, where the bench is located. The path starts near the pizzeria "il Faro", 200 meters after the Town Hall, where there is also a small car park.
To reach the giant bench, you must follow a path uphill, it is short and affordable for everyone (even children). Along the way there are also Stations of the Christian Cross and some benches for possible stops.
Comfortably seated on this bright pink bench you will enjoy the view of Ligonchio from above, with the Enel Central and its artificial lake; the view sweeps over the entire Ozola valley and in the distance you will also see the Bismantova Stone, the Reggio hill and the plain.
Coming back from the walk there is no shortage of places to have lunch in the village in Ligonchio, with traditional cuisine.
After lunch you can make a bet at the Pradarena Pass, the highest of the Reggio Emilia Apennines with its 1600 meters above sea level. From Ligonchio there is a classic mountain road made of hairpin bends, among the beech trees. After 15 minutes by car there is the Pass, from where you can admire on one side the Apennines up to the Po Valley, on the other side the Garfagnana and the Apuan Alps. Many trails start here, so it is possible take a walk, or enjoy the view sitting in the meadows, or even a snack at the Refuge before leaving for home.
For more information, visit the website and download the Big Bench App to discover all the giant benches in the world, with photos and localizations to reach them.