Last June 9th, the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines has become part of the World Network of reserves “Man and Biosphere” Mab UNESCO. Walking through its woods will instantly make you realize the reason why.

The paths drawn among the dense trees, the unexpected views, the long stretches of blueberries and blackberries, the streams of fairy tales, make these mountains unique in the world.

For all the territory, the coveted certification represents the recognition of the beauty and ecological richness of these mountains.

Tuscan Emilian Apennines - Mount Acuto
Apennine, photo by Andrea Merusi

On the top of  Mount Acuto, walking in the UNESCO Heritage Natural Reserve

To fully enjoy these landscapes we went to the top of Mount Acuto. Locally known as Pizzacuto, it dominates the basin of the Lagastrello, the extreme western edge of the group of the Alps Di Succiso.

We started from the Lagastrello Pass (1198 m, crossing between Emilia and Lunigiana), which is not the classic start of the path along the homonymous dam (path 659B, direction Comano). After a few hundred meters, you can find the first breath-taking landscape. The river Enza, which reaches the dam; a green area, untouched, crossed by small streams. Here, countless tadpoles splash in the water and small fishes quickly cross the watercourses.

River Enza' drainage basin
River Enza’s drainage basin; photo by Andrea Merusi

After a few minutes spent admiring the valley, we head towards the tip of the mountain and here is a second surprise. Along the path that leads to the summit, a herd of beautiful wild horses is hanging around, unaware of us visitors. We pass them by, careful not to disturb them. But they seem to understand our intentions and let us pass without any problems.

wild horses on Mount Acuto
Wild horses, Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, photo by Irene Binini, on Flickr

We continue our walk following the indications that lead to Mount Acuto. Soon we find ourselves in a dense forest of cedar beech trees that shade the path. And this is particularly pleasing because outside the woods, under the sun, the temperature seems to reach 30°C.

Walking in the woods stimulates thoughts and even doing it on your own must be a wonderful experience. Physical fatigue lessens the mental stress of a hectic life. The feeling is beautiful, it’s almost a rebirth. Certainly, a sense of peace.

wild horses in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines woods
Wild horses, Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, pic by Andrea Merusi, on Flickr

Almost at the top

Carried by a stream of thoughts that help us climb, here we are, already in high altitude. Once again, the trees of the forest leave room for a beautiful landscape. Below us, a green valley surrounded by mountains, and above a blue sky that looks surreal.

green landscape, Tuscan-Emilian Apennines
Tuscan-Emilian Apennines green landscape, photo by Andrea Merusi

Surrounded by this wonderful panorama, we go on towards the Mount Acuto Pass (1722 m), which we reach after another hour. Finally, we reach the top of the mountain (1756 m), the highest point of our excursion, and from here we admire the valley. Then, we stop for lunch.

Sarzana Refuge

Once that we recovered the forces, we resume the walk. This time we head to Rifugio Sarzana, the penultimate stage before the return to the dam of Lagastrello. According to the paths indicated by the map, we should reach the dam with a circular path.

The Sarzana Refuge is located near the lake of Mount Acuto (1580 m). The Sarzana Section of the CAI built this refuge in 1980. Successively, the Regional Park institution of Alto Appennino Reggiano renovated it in 1998. The interior is equipped with 25 beds and is run by Legambiente members in summer and weekends.

After another two hours of walking, we return to the starting point, now the final destination of our excursion. All things considered, this itinerary wasn’t too demanding if you are a minimum trained and prepared.

A place we need to protect

The sky is clear and the climate is still very hot. After all, we go back home satisfied with the trip and fascinated by the places reached and the beautiful views. We return home already dreaming about the next journey. But above all, we have the awareness that we live a few kilometers from a place rightly recognized as a heritage of humanity. It’s our duty to discover, know and protect it.

Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, Unesco heritage
Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, UNESCO heritage, by Andrea Merusi