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The Riserva Naturale Contrafforte Pliocenico (Pliocene Spur Nature Reserve) is the largest nature reserve in the entire region, at just 20 km from Bologna. It was founded with the goal of protecting the rocky face that extends for about 15 km as it crosses the Reno, Setta, Savena, Zena and Idice valleys and culminates in Mount Adone, Rocca di Badolo, Mount Rosso and, just outside the protected area, Mount Formiche.

The most interesting part of the reserve is surely the rocky face, thanks to its geological, geomorphological and palaeontological aspects. However, the area is also interesting for its botany and wildlife. Indeed, certain species of Mediterranean plants thrive here, favoured by the microclimate created by the rocky walls, some of which are quite rare. The same is true of the wild animals, especially birds, reptiles and amphibians, protected by rocky ravines and other micro habitats that are hard to reach.

The reserve is crossed by beautiful paved roads that connect the outlying towns to the spur, but it also has a smaller hiking network that includes unpaved roads and trails traditionally used to reach the most important peaks in the reserve and historical sites. A few routes that can be completed in a few hours are:

  1. Mount Adone Loop à a route with expansive panoramas and fascinating natural and historical points of interest. It’s the most direct trail to reach the peak of Mount Adone.
  2. Around Mount Rosso à a simple loop route that runs along the foothills of Mount Rosso, offering panoramic views of the sandstone walls that overlook Sadurano
  3. Mount Frate and the Raibano Valley à a long loop that covers the ridge of Mount Frate and the valleys behind Rocca di Badolo, touching upon some of the sites of greatest naturalistic value in the reserve.
  4. Mount Mario the Meadows of Mugnano à a set of loop trails through the Meadows of Mugnano. The main loop rises along the summit of the mountain, following the crest above its western slope. There are two simple itineraries that are suitable for all skill levels, crossing the woods that cover the northern slopes of the mountain. Then there’s the option to descend to the town of Battedizzo, then climb the western slope of the mountain. However, it’s a harder, more exposed route. All trails pass by notably important natural features and historical sites.

The Spur can also be explored via three multiple-day hiking routes. The Traversata delle Cinque Valli (Five Valley Trail), an itinerary that goes from Monteveglio to Ozzano Emilia and crosses the entire reserve from west to east; and the Via degli Dei e la Via dei Santuari (Road of the Gods and Road of the Sanctuaries) is an itinerary that connects Bologna and Prato.

Visit the Park’s website.

bar_chart Technical Info

15 km

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