Less than 50 km from Florence and Forlì, straddling the Apennine Ridge, is one of Italy’s most important areas of natural heritage – these forests are considered a true paradise for mountain and nature lovers.
This is a very special area not only because it offers visitors an extreme variety of landscapes, but also because it offers a range of opportunities, itineraries and experiences that are incredible, to say the least.
Strolling around fir trees, cool mountain streams and stunning waterfalls, you can breathe in the mystical atmosphere of places like the hermitages of Camaldoli and La Verna, which, over the centuries, have welcomed important religious and philosophical figures (Dante Alighieri, Ludovico Ariosto, Saint Romuald and Saint Francis of Assisi).
Unlike the Tuscan part of the park, where the landscape appears gentler with woods, pastures, chestnut groves and cultivated fields, the Romagna side has steep slopes covered by a dense wooded mantle, alternated by layers of bare rock, and abandoned cultivated fields, around which small churches, stone mills and ancient, long-since uninhabited villages are dotted.
Going up the wild valleys to meet the slopes of Mount Falco and Mount Falterona, there are some of the most beautiful sites of the Emilia-Romagna Apennines. Among these, it is impossible not to mention the dell’Acquacheta waterfalls, near the town of San Benedetto in Alpe; the Campigna forest with the majestic Grand-Ducal Palace, the hunting lodge of the Lorraine family; the village of Ridracoli with its artificial dam, and finally, the Sasso Fratino Nature Reserve, with its ancient beech forest, a UNESCO World heritage site.
We must not neglect to mention the local fauna, most likely the richest and most diverse in the entire Apennines: wild boar, red deer, roe deer, fallow deer, lots of birds and the spellbinding presence of the wolf.
The park offers endless hiking possibilities in all seasons: more than 600 km of paths, which you can explore on foot or by mountain bike, and nature trails, all of which are highly accessible.
The best time of year is spring when the primordial forests awaken with all their energy. In summer, you can escape on long hikes, while autumn offers a kaleidoscope of images, colours and flavours, with the foliage in the forests and the delicious food festivals in the villages of the surrounding area. In winter, however, you can lose yourself in its endless snow-covered panoramas. There are the ski and bobsleigh slopes, cross-country trails, snowboarding slopes, ski schools and the inevitable treks through the woods with snowshoes.
Plus, the beauty of the small towns located within the area of the park, such as Bagno di Romagna, Premilcuore, Santa Sofia, Tredozio and San Benedetto in Alpe, which include a vast treasure trove of historical and cultural traditions that are absolutely worth a visit.