If you dream of a nature getaway, the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine is the perfect destination for you. We suggest 6 unmissable green places to discover the natural beauties of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, away from everyday stress.
In June 2015, the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine received the prestigious UNESCO status of Man and Biosphere Reserve. The Reserve is in the Northern Apennines and it is typical of this mountain region. It also constitutes a focal point of the Continental-Mediterranean climatic boundary. These peculiarities, together with geological heritage and other factors, have generated a complex ecological and cultural patchwork that underlies the evolution of the landscape.
The Unesco Reserve covers an area of over 223 thousand hectares and involves 38 Municipalities. In addition, it boasts the presence of a National Park and Regional Parks, as well as 64 products (PDO, PGI and traditional), including Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano. These products testify to an ancient and productive history of civilization and human settlement.
The territory of the Reserve is very varied. It includes Lunigiana, located at 60 meters above sea level, but also peaks such as Mount Cusna, 2120 meters high. Moreover, it is mainly covered by forests with beech, oak and chestnut trees. The area contains close to 70% of total species present in Italy. Among these there are 122 species of birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and fish, as well as a wide variety of flora.
Discover with us 6 magnificent green locations immersed in the natural, historical and cultural beauties of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine!
1. Il Casale di Monte Venere
Il Casale di Monte Venere is an ancient stone farmhouse, set between the woods and clearings of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine, between Canossa and the National Park. The building was recently renovated according to the most advanced criteria of bio-architecture and energy efficiency, while maintaining the charm of stone and wood intact thanks to the wise recovery of the original materials. CAI hiking trails literally start from the gates of the farmhouse. They offer hiking and mountain bike lovers an almost endless series of trails. The surrounding valley is rich in naturalistic, geological, historical and archaeological points of interest.
What’s more, this is the area where the best Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is produced. You can take part in guided visits to dairy farms and taste the finished and matured product at “zero km”.
From the farmhouse you can reach some of the most interesting cities of art in less than an hour’s drive: Parma (Italian Capital of Culture 2020), Reggio Emilia and Modena. Even closer are the Matildic castles of Canossa, Rossena, Bianello and Carpineti, the Pietra di Bismantova and the peaks of the Apennine ridge.
2. Ca’ del Ciuco
If you are looking for a quiet place, you can’t miss Ca’ del Ciuco. It is an agritourism born from the conservative renovation of an old stable and its barn. The place is located on the hills of Reggio Emilia in a small hamlet.
The catering service offers customers, upon reservation, a menu based on the traditional cuisine of Reggio Emilia. The food is produced directly by the company and by well-known and esteemed local organic farmers.
Ca’ del Ciuco offers various educational activities, aimed at both adults and children, concerning the discovery of the territory and its history: from the Campola Valley, rich in ecosystems and rare blooms, to the Canossa Castle, easily accessible even by walking.
A few km from the farm, Asineria Asini di Reggio Emilia offers trekking activities related to the rediscovery of the territory walking with donkeys. These animals are like friends and real travel companions and they help to rediscover the pleasure of slow mobility, besides the joy of sharing the journey. Donkeys are thoughtful and intelligent animals that convey a slow lifestyle, which invites conscious observation of the surrounding landscape.
3. BB Cancabaia Parma
If you are looking for a friendly and discreet welcome, BB Cancabaia is the right place for you! The agritourism is housed in a court of 1600, located on the first hills of Parma only 15 minutes from the city, but in full rural context.
A peaceful environment surrounded by green countryside will welcome you. This farm is the ideal starting point to discover how Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, balsamic vinegar and wine from the Parma hills are produced. The breakfast is varied and abundant and includes local jams, homemade cakes, fresh bread, organic honey, typical cold cuts of the area, and much more.
Moreover, BB Cancabaia is pet-friendly. If you want to travel with your four-legged friend, you can bring it with you to the farm, by prior arrangement at the time of booking.
This is also a great place for hiking and cycling lovers, who can immerse themselves in the nature of the Parma hills and follow the beautiful slow itinerary of Parma Voladora, which connects Lesignano de Bagni to Parma. You can’t miss the suggestive Torrechiara Castle, just half an hour by bicycle from the B&B.
4. Antico podere De Stefani
A great place to stay among the parks, nature, and history. This is Antico podere De Stefani, a farm in the heart of Garfagnana with magnificent views of the Apuan Alps and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine.
A part of the farmhouse and an agricultural annex have been restored for farm holidays. Here you can relax in an oasis of tranquillity between the landscape, the castles, villages and medieval fortresses of Garfagnana. You can walk and go up to the mountain huts and the most panoramic peaks of the Apuan Alps and the Apennines. Moreover, you can discover the culture of a valley where, for example, you can learn Italian with no dialect, attend music classes of important international associations or simply attend local sections of the Alpine Club with their interesting excursions for people of all ages.
Don’t miss the many outdoor activities! Walks in the countryside, excursions on the Garfagnana Trekking and the Francigena di Lunigiana-Garfagnana route, caving, mountaineering, free climbing, ski mountaineering and snowshoeing in winter, bicycle all year round (both mountain bike and road bike). There are activities for everyone! In addition to all this, you can participate in medieval, popular and traditional religious festivals, to experience the true essence of the locals’ traditional lifestyle.
The farm is also easily accessible on foot or by e-bike, or by rail and bus, to support green mobility.
5. B&B La Fossa
Immersed in the unspoiled nature, B&B La Fossa is an eco-friendly structure with a beautiful panoramic view of Val Tassaro.
This is the perfect place to relax and for hiking lovers. What’s more, the B&B is close to many castles, including Canossa Castle and Rossena Castle, as well as several cities of art such as Parma and Reggio Emilia.
The structure has a small house with a large window and an old house in the woods (big house). Both offer free Wi-Fi and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views. On sunny days it is also possible to have lunch in the open air.
The accommodation offers organic food at zero km and is equipped with ecological cleaning products and low-energy light bulbs.
A walk to the Enza River is the perfect chance to rediscover the pleasure of spending time in the middle of nature.
6. La corte di Woodly
In a small medieval village in the hills of Parma, La corte di Woodly is a green B&B just a few minutes from Torrechiara Castle. If you are looking for a green escape, this is the perfect accommodation for you. Sometimes, you can see groups of deer grazing in the fields from the window of your room.
La corte di Woodly is an ancient stone building spread over five levels, which follows the slope of the hill. The ancient sixteenth-century tower still stands in the ancient village and it is possible to enjoy an enchanting panorama up to Monte Cimone.
An unmissable attraction half an hour by bicycle from the B&B is the Torrechiara Castle. The ancient bulk, with imposing towers and crenellated walls, was rebuilt in the fifteenth century by Pier Maria Rossi for his beloved Bianca Pellegrini. One of the most charming spaces of the castle is the Golden Room, which is decorated with a cycle of frescoes depicting Chivalric love, overlooking an elegant arcade from which you can admire a breathtaking landscape over the entire valley and the Emilian Apennine.
Would you consider the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine as your next holiday destination? Let us know by commenting on the post!
Cover image: Canossa Castle and Tuscan-Emilian Apennine, photo of Gabriele Costetti, via wikimedia