This protected area is an incredible place because of the mix of nature and tourism, culture and history that it offers visitors. From small settlements and rock-perched villages to serene pastures and unspoilt woodlands, the park is a heritage of unique flora and fauna biodiversity in the heart of the enormous Tuscan-Emilian Apennines National Park.
Crossed by the long path of the Alta Via dei Parchi [the mountain-top ridgeway running through the parks], it includes areas made up of different natural habitats that, starting from the hilly lower valley of the Parma and Cedra rivers, characterise the surrounding environment all the way up to the highest peaks (over 1,800 metres above sea level at Mount Sillara).
Every year this area welcomes experienced hikers and enthusiasts of outdoor life who come here to find direct contact with nature and with themselves, as well as to enjoy one of the many delicacies that this area offers from a culinary point of view.
Where ancient glaciers once stood, today you can find peat bogs and splendid glacial lakes filled with crystal clear water that have largely retained their natural appearance. Lake Santo, Lake Verde and Lake Ballano are definitely worth a visit, as are the ancient chestnut groves that punctuate the valleys, which have been engraved by time and by the flow of the mountain streams.
In these high altitude environments, several herbaceous species and small groups of silver fir, Norway spruce and yew have survived in the beechwood forests, which you would generally expect to find in only the northernmost climates. It is within this varied environment that many characteristic animal species of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines find their natural habitats, such as wolves, golden eagles, roe deer and wild boar.
The glacial lakes, which can be reached via trails and open pathways along the mountain ridges, act as natural “balconies” from which to look out over the surrounding landscape. In winter with snowshoes or high-altitude skis; in spring, after the snow has melted, with long walks through the blooming upland meadows; in summer with treks until sunset, and in autumn through the beechwoods to experience the colour display as the leaves change.
Whatever your preference or level of sporting ability, the park offers multiple itineraries and activities, whatever the season (alpine skiing, one- or multi-day trekking excursions, mountain biking, climbing, etc.), which welcome visitors to experience the beauty of these places in person.