The Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona, Campigna is a national park established in 1993. Located on the Apennines between Tuscany and Emilia Romagna, the 368 square kilometre park covers the three provinces of Forlì - Cesena, Arezzo and Florence.
The park is a green haven, known for being one of the most purely-forested areas in Europe, with a complex biodiversity. In fact, 85% of the park is covered by trees.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site-accredited Sasso Fratino Integral Nature Reserve and Beech Forests lie inside the park. The park was the first nature reserve to be established in Italy. In 1985, it was awarded the European Diploma of Protected Areas to try and preserve its natural setting which makes human settlement difficult due to a lack of access roads and harsh, rocky slopes.
Mount Falco (1,658 metres) is the highest peak in the park, very closely followed by the Monte Falterona (1,654 metres). The latter is the most well-known, in part due to the Lago degli Idoli (Lake of the Idols) lake, which sits atop the mountain. The lake’s fame comes from the 1838 discovery of one of the largest archaeological finds of the Etruscan civilisation.
From Falterona you can cast an eye over some of the national park’s biggest attractions. The slopes of the Arno river allow visitors to see the spectacular Acquacheta, Piscino and Scalandrini waterfalls. The 70-metre Acquacheta stream and waterfall is one of the park’s biggest attractions and is also mentioned in Dante’s Divine Comedy.
The emerald-green Ridracoli reservoir is also visible. This jaw-dropping expanse of water has to be seen to be believed. Small medieval villages rely on the reservoir for a drinking water supply. It is said the site can hold up to 33 billion litres of water.
The jewel in the park’s country is its envious array of flora. Huge trees cover the park including mountain maple, ash, oak and chestnut. There are also over 1000 herbaceous species present, only 48 of which are trees and shrubs.
As well as nature, the national park is also awash with incredibly diverse fauna. Sharp-eyed visitors may be able to spot the Apennines wolf, Eurasian badger, fallow deer, wild boar and mouflon. Bird lovers can watch out for peregrine falcons and golden eagles.
The park has not always been peaceful. Around the year 1000 AD, the park was at the centre of a war between Counts Guidi of Modigliana and Battifolle and their families. In 1380, the Florentine Republic captured the park and began to commercially exploit it.
Many churches and palaces were built with wood exploited from the park. In fact, timber from these trees was used in the construction of the Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, the largest dome in the world at the time of building.