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:
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