The Foreste Casentinesi Monte Falterona and Campigna National Park was established in 1993. It is located right between two regions – Tuscany and Emilia Romagna – and three provinces – Forlì-Cesena, Arezzo and Florence. Inside the park, the Sasso Fratino Integral Nature Reserve, established in 1959 – first in Italy – has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. In addition to this, there are other integral or natural reserves not to be missed, such as the Monte Falco Integral Nature Reserve and the Biogenetic Nature Reserves of Campigna, Scodella, Camaldoli and Badia Prataglia.
As the name of the park suggests, the forests are particularly important and interesting in this environment, as they are counted among the most valuable in Europe. Over the centuries, the Hermitage and Monastery of Camaldoli and the Franciscan Sanctuary of La Verna – both of medieval origins – have played a very important role in its conservation and correct exploitation. Indeed, especially during the Renaissance, the timber from these forests floated down the Arno river to Florence. The famous Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore, designed by the great Brunelleschi, for example, was built with the timber cut in these forests.
The highest peak of the park is Monte Falco, with its 1.658 meters, while the second highest mountain and certainly also the most famous one is Monte Falterona, from whose slopes theArno river rises. The presence of the river and other streams that flow along the mountain slopes of the Apennines, gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy spectacular views such as the Acquacheta, Piscino and Scalandrini waterfalls or the vast artificial reservoir of Ridracoli.
These wonderful woods are very rich in fauna. Here you can come across Apennine wolves, wild boars, red deers, fallow deers, roe deers and mouflons.
In the park you can find numerous paths and itineraries that can be followed on foot, on horseback, by bike or – in winter – with snowshoes or touring skis. Over 600 km of paths where you can decide to get lost in the green of fir, beech, ash and elm forests or to go to the discovery of hidden and suggestive places, such as natural caves, waterfalls, amazing rocks and springs.
There are no natural lakes in the park, but at the foot of Monte Falterona, in Etruscan times there was one – today dried up – called Lago degli Idoli. For the Etruscan people it was a place of worship, as on the lakebed, hundreds of votive statuettes have been found and today this ancient sacred place is the perfect destination for a nice and suggestive walk.
The park is also dotted with numerous small and picturesque villages rich in history, such as Badia Prataglia and San Benedetto in Alpe, as well asnot to be missed are places full of mysticism such as the Sanctuary of La Verna, founded by San Francesco and site where the Saint received the Sacred Stigmata, or the Hermitage and Monastery of Camaldoli, founded by San Romualdo and unique example of a spiritual place that in its peculiar architecture consisting of a double structure (hermitage and monastery), reflects the union and, at the same time, the separation between eremitic and cenobitic life that features the Camaldolese order.
The Foreste Casentinesi Monte Falterona and Campigna National Park
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