HIKING IN THE APENNINES OF PIACENZA

by
GIORGIO ZANETTI

MT. RAGOLA
MT. RAGOLA

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Bullet.gif MT. RAGOLA

Bullet.gif MT. CAREVOLO

Bullet.gif FROM A ROMAN TEMPLE TO AN IRISH MONASTERY (VELEIA - BOBBIO)



ACCOMMODATIONS B&B IN THE PROVINCE

PHOTO ALBUM OF THE PROVINCE OF PIACENZA

FLORA AND FAUNA IN THE APENNINES OF PIACENZA


DISCLAIMER

In my younger years, I hiked a few trails in these beautiful mountains and it is my wish to share them with you. However the descriptions below are not based on my own experiences (too many years gone by...), instead they have been gleaned and edited from various sources (i.e. Guida della Provincia di Piacenza, T.E.P. Gallarati, PC, 1974; various articles from the "Libertą" newspaper of Piacenza, 1998, C. A. I. maps etc.). The accuracy of the information is NOT guaranteed, therefore, if you choose to go, and I hope you do, do get informed and enjoy.

GENERAL NOTES



The Piacenza Section of the Italian Alpine Club (Club Alpino Italiano / C.A.I.) looks after most trails in this area (check their trails description). These well maintained trails (80 trails for 180 Km. in total) are numbered 1 to 999 and have red markings.

Useful maps: "Alto Appennino Piacentino Nord" (# zero) and the "Alto Appennino Piacentino Sud" (# one), scale 1:50,000 both from the C. A. I; these two maps display the bus stops available (check below for time-table link). Also available are the maps from the "Alta Emilia s.r.l." (The Centre for the Commercial and Touristic Promotion of the Western Apennines of Parma and Piacenza) titled: "Carta Escursionistica delle Valli del Trebbia-Tidone-Luretta " and "Carta Escursionistica delle Valli del Nure-Riglio-Arda-Stirone" , also with a scale of 1:50,000.


HAPPY AND SAFE RAMBLING



MT. RAGOLA (1710 m.)

WHERE:

Situated in the upper Valnure on the right bank of the Nure river, past Farini.

TIME:

3 to 4 hrs.

GETTING THERE:

From Piacenza we take the Nure Valley road no. 654 all the way past Farini , but before crossing the bridge into Ferriere (53 Km. from Piacenza) we follow the road on the left and in 3 Km. arrive in Canadello (800 m.).
There is also train service to Piacenza and then take the bus service to Ferriere with with "TEMPI"

FOR A MORE COMPLETE DESCRIPTION OF THE NURE VALLEY PLEASE SEE: THE NURE VALLEY

NOTES:

On the slopes of Mt. Ragola grows the rare Mugo Pine (Pinus uncinata) and other alpine flora (Broom, Saxifraga, Lilly, Gentian, Thyme, etc.)

TRAIL:

From Canadello we follow the mule track (no. 021 of C. A. I.) near the church, towards Mt. Megna (1380 m.), the peak of which resembles a spent volcano; keeping left at the next two bifurcations, the trail takes us to Moo (Moo as in moon) Lake (1106 m.).
From Moo Lake we then proceed south to Bino (as in Beeno) Lake (1298 m.) ; both lakes are of glacial origins, surrounded by outcrops, made smooth by the glaciers of long ago, and displaying interesting wetland flora.

After Bino Lake we retrace back to trail no. 021 and cross the swampy, grassy beds of ancient lakes called Pramollo (1385 m.) and Prato Grande (1440 m.) after which we follow trail no. 37 and scramble up, from the east side, to the top of Mt. Ragola (1710 m.).

The beautiful panorama extends over the sea of Liguria to the South, over the Padana Plains towards the North and East and over the surrounding hills and mountains.



UP TOP





MT. CAREVOLO (1552 m.)

WHERE:

Situated in the upper Valnure on the left bank of the Nure river, South/West of Ferriere.

TIME:

3 to 4 hours.

GETTING THERE:

From Piacenza we take the Nure Valley road no. 654 all the way to Ferriere (53 Km.) and after the bridge on the Nure river turn left towards Gambaro, and just 1.5 Km after the bridge, and before Folli, follow the road on the right towards Casaldonato (887 m.), about 3 Km. away where we park the car.
There is also train service to Piacenza and then bus service to Ferriere with "TEMPI"

NOTES:

The view from the top of Mt. Carevolo is rather exceptional.
The flora on the Carevolo and Crociglia includes those found in the alpine meadows (carnation, blueberry, violet, orchid, lily, gentian, asphodel, crocus, etc.)

TRAIL:

Just on the west side limits of the village of Casaldonato take the southbound mule track that climbs, amongst lovely green pastures, towards the Carevolo; the mule track will eventually connect with the C. A. I. trail no. 001 (red and white marking) which we will follow on our left to the top of the green pyramid of the Carevolo, reached in about 1.75 hours.
From the Carevolo an undulating but easy trail (C. A. I. no. 001) that straddles the watershed between the Nure and the Aveto Valleys take us, in about 1 hour, further south to Mt. Crociglia (1578 m.).
Retrace the same trails for the return trip.



UP TOP





FROM VELEIA TO BOBBIO

WHERE:

Veleia (500 m.) , the start of this trekking is situated in the Chero Valley, about 50 Km. south of Piacenza. Bobbio (272 m.), at the end of the trekking, is situated in the Trebbia Valley, about 45 Km. South/West of Piacenza.

Write to Bobbio's Tourist Office:

IAT
Contrada di Borgatto, 23
Bobbio
29022 Piacenza Italy.

Phone & fax: 0523 932535.

VELEIA (Italian)

Abbey of Bobbio and its History (The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913)

TIME:

This trekking is divided in 6 stages.

GETTING THERE:

From Piacenza, take the road to Castell'Arquato, but in Carpaneto,18 Km. from Piacenza, follow the signs for Veleia some 20 Km. away.
There is also train service to Piacenza with some trains stopping in Fiorenzuola d'Arda where we can get a bus service to Lugagnano Val d'Arda (about 15 Km. North/East of Veleia) or further still to Morfasso (15 Km. South of Veleia).
Another alternative is to get a bus service from Piacenza to Gropparello (about 10 Km. North of Veleia) run by "TEMPI".

At the end of the trekking, in Bobbio, there is bus service back to Piacenza.

NOTES:

In Veleia we can find a one star accommodation. Accommodation can also be found in Lugagnano, Gropparello and Morfasso

Originally Veleia was an ancient settlement of the Ligurian tribe (Ligures Veleates in the II century B. C.) which the Roman eventually conquered. This site was initially excavated in 1747 when an inscribed bronze table, the largest in the roman empire (Tabula Alimentaria, II century A. D.), was found by chance in the area. One can see the ruins of the ancient Forum, the Baths and the Amphitheater; excavations, albeit slowly, are ongoing.

In 614 A. D. St. Columban, the famous Irish monk, arrives with his disciples in Bobbio and start building a monastery which becomes well known throughout Europe reaching its maximum splendor between the IX and the XII centuries.
The remains of St. Columban are kept in the splendid XV century marble sarcophagus in the crypt of the church.

TRAIL:

STAGE 1: VELEIA - PRATO BARBIERI (4:00 hr. / 15 Km.)


WARNING: The times and distances shown in brackets are APPROXIMATIONS.


From Villa (group of houses close to Veleia) we climb southbound between the Rocca di Moria (901 m.) and the Mt. Rovinasso (858 m.) after entering the Provincial Park we follow, on the right, the dirt road passing by the Madonna del Monte (928 m.). Keeping southbound, with Croce dei Segni (1072 m.) on the left, we reach Costa di Croce Lasa (971 m.); we descend towards Tiramani (intersection just west of hamlet) and we keep right towards Guselli (924 m.). In Guselli we proceed on the right to Prato Barbieri (924 m.) where we can find accommodation (check under Bettola).


STAGE 2: PRATO BARBIERI - BOCCOLO NOCE (5:30 hr / 15 Km )


We leave Prato Barbieri following the CAI trail # 901 to the hamlet of Montelana (1008 m.) After crossing the rivulet Acqua Nigra, we climb to S. Franca church (1199 m.; 1 hour from Prato Barbieri) and keeping Mt. S. Franca on our right we contour Mt. La Morfassina (1336 m.) on its west flank (the S. Franca Pass - 1273 m - is situated after the church and between these two mountains). We continue by the Colle il Guttarello (1280 m.) and proceed to the summit of the Mt. Menegosa (1356 m.) (could deviate on trail # 8314 - west flank - to by-pass summit of Mt Menegosa). We now descend along the Costa della Strinata by keeping Mt. di Lama (1345 m.) on our left and in about one hour reach Passo di Linguadį (933 m.); just before the pass we take the road down to Boccolo Noce (875 m.) on our right. Here in Boccolo Noce there is food and accommodation (check under Farini).


STAGE 3: BOCCOLO NOCE - PASSO ZOVALLO (7:30 hr./ 22 Km.)


Well rested and with an early rise, we leave Boccolo Noce retracing our steps back to Passo Linguadą (from here we will folloow the CAI trail # 035 to the Zovallo Pass). Before reaching Pianazze Pass 972 m.; in about 1:30 hr.) we'll go through the hamlet of Taverne (951 m.), circumvent the chracteristic Roccia Cinque Dita (the Five Fingers Group, tops 1081 m.) and connect with the road Farini - Bardi which we'll follow on our right and reach the Pianazze Pass in less than one Km. Here we will find a Bar/Trattoria (restaurant), located on the West side of the pass at a hundred yards or so.

From the pass we continue in a South/West direction straddling for awhile the boundaries of Piacenza (on the right) and Parma (on the left) provinces. In about 2 hours we arrive at the Prato Grande (1426 m.) area, saddled between the Mt. Camulara (1563 m.) to the East and Poggio dell'Orlo (1509 m.) to the West and with the imposing profile of Mt. Ragola (1772 m.) to the South. To save time we bypass the Ragola on the Western slope and continue to the Zovallo Pass (1409 m.). When we arrive at the main paved road (no. 654), we follow it on the right for about 2 Km. to the Locanda Lago Nero (1330 m.) for food and accommodation (check under Ferriere).We could take an extra day in this area and explore the trails to Lago Nero, Monte Bue and Monte Maggiorasca.

Picture of Lago Nero.


STAGE 4: LOCANDA LAGO NERO - FERRIERE (6:30 hr. / 20 Km.)


We depart from the Locanda Lago Nero where CAI trail no. 005 takes us in about 45 minutes, to Selva (1100 m.); just before reaching Selva we follow a road to the left that connects to trail no. 013 which takes us to the refuge GAEP and Passo della Crociglia (1468 m.). Following trail no. 013 on the East flank of Mt. Crociglia (1578 m.) we connect with no. 001 which we follow northbound towards Mt. Carevolo. For tonight's accommodation we must deviate to Ferriere via a mule track, just passed Mt. Carevolo (1552 m.) will takes us, north/east bound, to the hamlet of Casaldonato (887 m.). From here we follow the main road and after a few switch backs, follow, to the left, another mule track down to Ferriere (660 m.).


STAGE 5: FERRIERE - COLI (6:30 hr./ 20 Km.)


From Ferriere we follow the road to Pomarolo, reached in about 30 minutes (734 m.), and from here a mule track climbs towards Grondone. In about 1 hr. we reach the junction with the road to Grondone and we deviate left towards the Mercatello Pass (1056 m.) where in 30 minutes we pick up trail no. 001 once again.
There is a bus service, somewhat irregular, that goes by the Mercatello pass servicing Castelcanafurone - Ferriere - Farini - Bettola (Linee extraurbane).

After climbing towards the Groppi di Lavezzera (1226 m.) we descend and eventually cross a dirt road and reach, in about 1.30 hr. from Mercatello Pass, a hydro line where a trail deviate on the left, west bound, down to the hamlet of Castelvetto (1025 m) and Viani (1034 m.) and eventually connecting to CAI trail #137. We follow the trail to the right, crossing the hamlet of Rosso (873 m.) connecting, further on, with CAI trail # 141. Following trail # 141 to the left, meandering down to Coli (639 m.).
(check under Coli for accommodations).


STAGE 6: COLI - BOBBIO (1 hr./ 6 Km.)


From Coli we follow the road for a short stretch and then follow CAI trail # 159 towards the Costa della Croce (727 m.) then, after crossing the Trebbia River using the old bridge, takes us to Bobbio (272 m.).

UP TOP





Introduzione alla Fauna del Piacentino



(Introduction to the Fauna of Piacenza)

Andrea Ambrogio - Edizioni Tip.Le.Co., 1995; Page 207-208
Translated by Giorgio Zanetti.
By observing lake Moo, lake Bino and Nero, all situated in the upper Nure valley, we soon realize that each lake is different from the other. While on one hand, both lake Nero and lake Bino have the typical characteristics of a mountain lake, with water so clear to be able to see the rocky bottom, Moo lake, on the other hand, has rather different characteristics.
In fact when Moo lake is seen from a distance it appears more like a meadow rather than a lake, but as we get closer we notice the water-soaked clod of grass and, at the center of the expanse, the small lake itself.

These three lakes can be considered at different stages of their evolutionary life that distinguishes every natural mountain lake.
At the time of the Pleistocene ice sheets retreat (about 10,000 years ago) the territory of the upper Nure valley, which until then was covered in many places by huge glacier tongues, started to be exposed.

As the glaciers retreated, they left little depressions in the soil that were further occluded by morainic deposits and consequently filled up with water, thus giving birth to the lakes we know today.

All of these water depressions are destined to be filled in by organic and inorganic material and by the sediments of rock erosion, and eventually will be transformed into meadows and forests.

The cycle of this evolutionary alteration goes through a series of stages: lake, marsh, bog, meadow and forest; these stages cannot be observed within a human life-time cycle, but we can nonetheless verify it by comparing various lakes at different stages of their alteration.

The progression of these stages can be observed in the Nure valley lakes, starting from the higher elevation: the Nero lake (in the initial stage of maturity), Bino lake (in the advanced stage of maturity), Moo lake (in the late stage of maturity), Pramollo and Prato Grande (already in the bog phase).



Glacial Origin - UP TOP - Lago Nero





UPDATED JANUARY - 2006