Beyond the historical and artistic beauty of Bologna and Emilia-Romagna’s cities, you’ll find the natural beauty of the region’s parks and landscapes, which, as the passionate hiker and nature lover I am, I strongly invite you to explore!
During the winter season, I like to go on snowshoeing trips; snowshoeing, if you’ve never tried it, is hiking on the snow with a pair of racket-like devices attached to the sole of your boots; this allows you to walk on snow-covered ground without sinking.
Snowshoeing is easy, eco-friendly and fun – what’s not to love?! What I like most about snowshoeing is its slow pace, which allows you to enjoy the natural landscapes around you, and the fact that you’re on trails away from the crowded ski slopes. If you’ve never experienced the beauty and quiet of a snow-covered wood, well… you should!
For the Bolognesi, the closest mountain area where to practice snowshoeing (and winter sports) is Corno alle Scale.
The Corno alle Scale Regional Park can be reached from Bologna in about an hour and a half by car or two hours and a half by public transportation.
Established in 1988, the park covers 5,000 hectares within the municipality of Lizzano in Belvedere, an area inhabited since very ancient times: remains have been found from the Iron Age at two locations known as Sboccata dei Bagnadori and Rocca Corneta.
The Corno alle Scale Regional Park features both landscapes typical of the Apennines and areas with Alpine elements. It’s almost entirely covered by woods of beech, chestnut and conifer trees, replaced at higher altitudes by bilberry heath and grassland. The park also features many protected botanical species, such as the Aster Alpinus and the Primula auricular (or bear’s ear). Among the animals that call the park home are roe deer, squirrels, foxes, deer, and marmots, and many bird species including the golden eagle. The highest peak in the park (and in the Bolognese Apennines) is the 1,944m Corno alle Scale.
Mountain villages in the territory of the park have preserved religious buildings and houses displaying elements typical of the local mountain architecture (see for example La Cà).
So, as you can see, there’s plenty to keep you entertained!
Below are my suggestions for three snowshoeing hikes in the park.
*I hike with the nonprofit association Trekking Italia.
SNOWSHOEING IN THE CORNO ALLE SCALE REGIONAL PARK
HIKE 1. FROM RIFUGIO CAVONE TO LAGO SCAFFAIOLO
This hike departs from the Rifugio Cavone (1,422m), a mountain hut and restaurant that stands next to a lake by the same name. Follow trail n. 329 (you’ll have to cross a couple of ski pistes along the way, so pay attention). The last stretch of this itinerary is quite steep, but it doesn’t take long to complete. You’ll reach Lake Scaffaiolo (1,775m), often frozen in winter. Next to it is the oldest mountain hut of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, Rifugio Duca degli Abruzzi, opened in 1878. If you leave the Cavone around 10 am, you’ll reach Duca degli Abruzzi just in time for a well-deserved lunch!
After lunch, you can head back, but if weather conditions allow it, I suggest you take some time to snowshoe along the ridge that separates Emilia-Romagna from Tuscany. It’s a lot of fun and, on a clear day, the views are spectacular.
HIKE 2. MONTE LA NUDA
This is an intermediate snowshoe hike because you have to cover a 630-meter difference in altitude. Basically, since you depart at Madonna dell’Acero (1,198m), it’s a steady climb up to the summit of Mount La Nuda (1,828m). The entire trail (n. 327) passes through a wood of such beauty, especially when covered in snow, that it’ll make it worth the effort (believe me!).
*Madonna dell’Acero is the site of a sanctuary built around 1500. According to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared to two shepherd children, saving them from a snowstorm, and giving back the ability to speak to one of them. The apparition took place near a maple, around which a church and later a sanctuary were built.
If weather allows it, once you’ve reached the top of Monte La Nuda, you can descend through the Valle del Silenzio (Valley of Silence, isn’t the name intriguing?!) and finish at Rifugio Cavone. When I did the hike, visibility was zero (see third photo below!) so we opted to return by the same route.
HIKE 3. FROM RIO RI TO VIDICIATICO
This is an easy excursion which traverses woods of beech and fir trees along the sides of the mountains, halfway between the villages and the peaks. It departs from Rio Ri (1,020m), arrives at Sboccata dei Bagnadori (1,274m), a crossing point of different routes, used in the Middle Ages to reach Tuscany; it then continues to Monte Pizzo (1,231m), the latest offshoot of the ridge that includes the Corno alle Scale, and ends in Vidiciatico, the other main town of the park along with Lizzano in Belvedere.
How to get to Corno alle Scale Regional Park from Bologna
By car: Autostrada A1, exit Sasso Marconi, then SS64 Porrettana, follow signs for Porretta; at Silla, 3 km from Porretta, take SS324, follow signs for Vidiciatico.
By public transportation: train Bologna-Porretta Terme, then bus 776 for Cavone (stops at Rio Ri and Madonna dell’Acero).
Have you tried snowshoeing? Do you like hiking?