There is an Italy less known and celebrated, but interesting and wonderful as a hinge of peoples, a treasure trove of knowledge and passage of people since the dawn of time. The portion of our peninsula we are talking about is that of the Tuscan-Romagna Apennines which includes the Upper Savio Valley, “mixed” with nature but also with people, villages, traditions, civilizations.
In the Upper Savio Valley
So it is not easy to reduce to 5 the reasons for traveling to these places of the Apennines recently awarded with an important recognition, that of the World Reserve of Man and Biosphere by UNESCO.
1 – Foliage in centuries-old beech woods
The foliage, the phenomenon of leaves that in autumn yield to a gradual palette of warm colors ranging from yellow to brown, passing through the orange, red and burgundy tones, is the last flame of life before the trees fall asleep in the winter. Enjoying this natural spectacle is good for the eyes and at the same time allows you to stock up on inner warmth for the colder season.
We did it in the scenic and centuries-old beech woods of the Romagna Apennines, among the autumn colors that emerge from the typical bluish mists of the period.
What we have found is an Emilia Romagna different from the best known of the beaches, the expanses of sunbeds and the discos of the Riviera. This territory, which gravitates around the Upper Savio Valley and is rich in woods, rocks, lakes and streams, must be tasted like a good wine, such as Le Grillaie by Celli, Sangiovese Superiore Doc, combined with the excellent dishes enjoyed at the restaurant of the Hotel Miramonti in Acquapartita, where we were guests during this foray into a region that was still missing from our “collection”.
2 – Walking through the villages
On the Romagna Apennines, nature is not the only protagonist. In the delightful villages surrounded by greenery you immediately feel at home, welcomed by the smiles and the natural and warm hospitality of the locals. Since ancient times known as the passage way from Romagna to Tuscany, the route in these lands was already beaten by pilgrims who went to Rome.
The Savio valley takes its name from the river that crosses it and extends almost entirely in the province of Forlì-Cesena. It begins on the slopes of Monte Fumaiolo, from where the Tiber originates, and then ends up in the Adriatic including enchanting villages scattered among the mountains, hills and plains of this portion of the Apennines in Romagna. Among these Bagno di Romagna famous for its thermal waters, whose benefits were already known in Roman times and then under the Florentine rule, which is found in the urban layout of the town and in which illustrious guests came to regenerate in the pools, like the Lorenzo the Magnificent sons and the sculptor Benvenuto Cellini.
Even today these waters are recognized for their therapeutic properties which can be used in the three spas of the town, in the center of which stands the ancient Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, while on the main avenue, via Manin, there are shops of artisans and typical products, from cheeses to cold cuts to wine. Here we stopped by Hosteria Volante (via Manin, 3 – tel. +39 0543 1796592 – www.hosteriavolante.com) for a quick snack based on hunting salami with tortelli alla piastra and the delicious local fresh cheese, raviggiolo.
3 – Getting lost between gnomes and fairies
Our advice? Stroll in nature, in scenarios reminiscent of enchanted woods, with the dull noise of the flowing water that accompanies the path up to the Alferello waterfalls and with Monte Comero that seems painted and that is reflected in the Lungo and Pontini lakes.
Both were formed following a huge landslide in the mid-1800s, detached from the very top that dominates them today. The landslide destroyed three small villages, now disappeared, but whose ruins can be found in the surrounding woods, frequented by nature lovers and those who are dedicated to fishing.
A curiosity? On the shores of Long Lake, in the territory of San Piero in Bagno, there is a real Indian park dedicated to Aquila Chiazzata, complete with tapee that emerge among the woods of centuries-old chestnut trees.
In the heart of Bagno di Romagna, then, there is a path inhabited by small Gnomes. In fact, the town has been famous for centuries for legends about sightings of gnomes and fairies.
Climbing the side of the hill that overlooks the village together with our Otto, we entered the Armina’s Wood and came across the School, the Osteria, the Cinema and the Hostel of the tired gnome, in the Balera of Unleashed Gnoma, in the Well of Wonders and in the houses of Gnomo Bàgnolo’s friends, from Gnomo Mentino to his sister Salvietta, from Ray of Sun to Gnomo Didò and many others, who left Norway in 1782 and landed here on the Romagna Apennines.
The Nature and Fantasy path, two and a half kilometers long, which can be accessed for free all year round, even houses a mailbox, where children mail the letters to which the gnomes give an answer.
4 – Visit Sarsina the country of exorcisms
Sarsina, a characteristic town in Romagna was the home of the Latin poet Plauto to whom are dedicated the “plautine”, a summer festival of classical theater in which the best Italian companies participate.
To visit the Archaeological Museum (Via Cesio Sabino, 39 – Tel. +39 0547 94641 – email@example.com), small but with pieces of extraordinary interest such as the Mausoleum of Rufo, coming from the necropolis of Pian di Bezzo and the mosaic of the Triumph of Dionysus, emerged from the excavations of a Roman domus.
In front of the ancient acropolis with the remains of the medieval castle, the beautiful square dominated by the Romanesque-Byzantine Basilica dedicated to San Vicinio, bishop with the reputation of “wrestler against the devil” and author of exorcisms. Still today Sarsina attracts people who come here to “be blessed” and to wear the famous collar.
5 – Staying at the Hotel Miramonti on the Acquapartita lake
Hotel Miramonti is the perfect starting area to explore this area which was part of Tuscany until the 19th century. Only in 1927 did Mussolini change the boundaries between the province of Forlì and that of Arezzo to include the source of the Tiber in Emilia Romagna. This happened for clear propaganda reasons: the idea was to give birth to the “river sacred to the destinies of Rome” in the province of birth of the Duce.
The hotel surrounded by greenery and overlooking the Acquapartita Lake, was commissioned by Antonio Batani in the place where it was born: it is part of the Batani Select Hotels and like all the structures of the chain it ensures its guests the typical Romagna welcome, making them feel at home, but at the same time offering them great quality in services.
6 – Eat and drink well
The added value of these places is certainly the food. Let’s not forget that we are in Emilia Romagna after all! Everywhere the cuisine is genuine, based on local products such as mushrooms and truffles collected in the woods, traditional recipes such as cappelletti in broth and 0 km ingredients, as in the one enjoyed at the restaurant of the Hotel Miramonti, of which we will talk soon!
In collaboration with Batani Select Hotels