Monti Rognosi and Sovara Valley Natural Reserve is a protected area of 1.500 hectares created in 1998. It is located in the municipal administration of Anghiari, in Valtiberina valley. The park lies in the northwestern area of the borough, between the Alpe di Catenaia mountain and the Apennines chain, and Sovara river streams through it.
The peculiar name of these mountains, Monti Rognosi, comes from their stony and irregular looks, which is due to their geological composition. Monti Rognosi are composed of ophiolites, from the greek ophis (snake) and lithos (rock), from which the name “snake’s rock”, rocks coloured like reptiles’ skin, black and dark green. These rocks have magmatic origins: two hundred million years ago these rocks were a seabed which lifted up emerging from the continental crust. These rocks contain precious materials whose surprising colors change based on weather conditions and light exposure. On these rocks grows a unique kind of vegetation that adapted to the natural surroundings, with endemic and specialized species which prefer dry, stony and acid lands. Mineral exploitation in the area of Monti Rognoni began during the prehistoric age. Etruscans and Romans kept on exploiting these lands, with mines of copper and stony materials. Via Ariminensis, an ancient Roman road, connected the cities of Arezzo and Rimini, granting connections also with those urban centers which needed those minerals. It is said that the Chimera of Arezzo, a very well-known Etruscan bronze sculpture, was made with copper coming from Monti Rognosi.
Clear evidence of the area’s exploitation, though, dates back to the 16th-18th century, thanks to Medici and Lorena’s commitment to the task. During the second half of the 18th century, ironworks were made following the Sovara riversides, but the extraction activity soon stopped and nowadays, in place of the ironworks, some ruins can be visited along that old path. In the natural reserve there are various shrub-like and herbaceous species, which in some cases grew during the second half of the 20th century, after the reforest programme of the area, which was considered to be too bare. There are many trails that can be done on foot, by bike or on horses, of various difficulty and distances, which allows visitors to discover this beautiful territory.
In order to explore this unique and mysterious area with awareness, there is the Fabbrica della Natura, a visit-center which is a point of reference for those who want to know more about Monti Rognosi and Sovara Valley Park.