Zona del Parco: From Lunigiana to Parmense
This route mainly follows the important and busy road crossing the Apennines, used in the past both by the merchants of the Salt Ways and by the pilgrims going along Via Francigena. Far from busy roads and big chaotic conurbations, the route leaves from Valle del Taverone, in the heart of Lunigiana, and gets to Val Bratica, lying between Valle del Parma and Valle dell'Enza: you will cross a mountain and wild landscape enriched by the presence of castles, fortresses, and several historical villages that have preserved their medieval structure.
The departure point is Aulla, near the exit from A15 Parma-La Spezia. Going ahead for about 3 km along the road SS 63 towards the north, you will reach the first lap of the route, that is the town of Terrarossa, in the Municipality of Licciana Nardi. Here a fortress was built by Malaspina to watch over the road: the famous Terrarossa Castle.
If you continue along the road SP 74 Massese, following the stream Taverone, along a parallel road you will reach the center of Monti, another country hamlet of Licciana Nardi, dominated by the Castle built to watch over Via Francigena.
Going along the SP road, you will get in Licciana Nardi: the ancient town, developing from the 13th century, was a fortified bulwark including Malaspina Castle, the walls with bastions, and Casteldelpiano. The town is also known for the deeds of the hero of the Risorgimento Anacardi Nardi, born in Apella, whose name gave origin to the place name "Nardi", added in the 1930s.
From Licciana Nardi town center you can reach Panicate and Bastìa: the latter, in a charming town facing the valley, has preserved the Malaspina Castle almost intact. Going ahead along the road SP 74, after crossing Varano country hamlet, you will get along a parallel road in the historical town of Tavernelle and then, turning left, in the two famous and ancient towns of Taponecco and Apella.
Going back to the SP road and going ahead to loc. Maestà dei Saldi, turn right and take the road SP 75 to Comano, a summer resort in Valle del Taverone, with hotels and sports facilities. The town has developed from an ancient fortress dating back to the 10th century, of which only a cylindrical tower and some ruins remain in the nearby hill, in loc. Castello di Comano. From Comano you will get in the two rural towns of Camporàghena and Torsana, while if you move towards the north-east you can visit the town of Groppo San Pietro, where you will find the ruins of another castle.
The route continues by taking again the road SP 74, surrounded by a mountain environment and large beech forests, until you reach Lagastrello Pass. Here you can follow the uphill road on the right towards Giogo Pass, leading to the abandoned radar plants of the homonymous mountain: they are the rests of a NATO military bases of the 1950s. Today it is possible to visit them at the summit of the mountain, where you can enjoy one of the greatest panoramas of this section of the Apennines.
Immediately beyond Lagastrello Pass, you will see the hydroelectric basin of Lago Paduli, built at the beginning of the last century thanks to a dam on the springs of the stream Enza. The Lake is situated in a glacial context of great charm and scientific interest, among basins of glacial origin, peat bogs, and wetlands.
From the Pass, you can continue in the territory of Emilia along the road SP 665r Massese. The first town you will find is Rigoso, one of the 14 settlements under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Parma until the abolition of the feudal privileges. Immediately after, turn right to reach Aneta country hamlet, while after about 1 km you will reach Prato Spialla, a ski resort at the foot of Bocco and Torricella mountains. If you go back to the junction where you turned to Prato Spilla, take again the road SP 665r and go ahead in Val Cedra, touching other towns belonging in the past to the area of Monchio: Rimagna, Trefiumi, Valditacca Pianadetto.
Taking again the road SP 665r, turn left to Monchio delle Corti, where, among the scattered houses, you will find the ancient rural church of SS. Lorenzo and Michele.
From Monchio, take the road SP 75 and climb to the ridge separating Val Cedra from Valle del Parma, crossing Prato country hamlet. From Ticchiano Pass you can reach Val Bratica, one of the most charming valleys of Cento Laghi Regional Park: among the various hiking opportunities offered in a wonderful natural context, you will also have the possibility to visit some historical villages. Going ahead among pastures and chestnut forests, you will reach Casarola town center and the rural town of Riana, preserving Santi-Fontechiari group of buildings dating back to 1650.