THE NORTH SIDE OF THE PARK: REGGIO AND EMILIA
Some of the most interesting settlements to visit on the north side are, in Cerreto Alpi, in the Reggio district, where you can experience community tourism, and Sesta Inferiore, in the Parma district, where in the 1960s the painter Madoi painted frescoes of local residents on the house facades of the village.
The South Side of the Park: Lunigiana and Garfagnana
Lunigiana and Garfagnana make the south side of the park: due to their peculiar history they are rich in heritage: lovely hamlets, precious churches and amazing castles are everywhere. In almost any village you might find a lovely historical neighbourhood – here called borgo storico, or antico – that you can visit: Licciana Nardi, Apella, Taponecco, Bagnone, Treschietto, Giuncugnano, Rocca di Soraggio, Borsigliana, San Romano in Garfagnana, Sassorosso and Massa di Sassorosso are only some of the most interesting.
Churches in the Park are meeting points of the whole community, and are used for both religious and secular purposes. Often tiny but well maintained, the Park's churches often feature important works of art, for example, the little church of Borsigliana (in Garfagnana) or the church of Varano (in Lunigiana). The most ancient churches, called pievi, are isolated country churches built at the beginning of middle ages. The nicest ones are Pieve San Vincenzo (in the Reggio district), Pieve San Paolo (in Lunigiana), Pieve of Minozzo, Pieve of Sorano and Pieve of San Giorgio.
Castles tell a lot of the complicated history of the Park, especially in Fortezza of Verrucole in San Romano, Garfagnana, as well as those in Treschietto, Comano, Licciana, Monti, Bastia, and Fivizzano.
The most important museum in the Park's vicinity is the museum of stele statues in Pontremoli, featuring the mysterious pre-Etruscan figures long associated with the ancient past of Lunigiana.
A tasting trip
Since the Tosco Emiliano National Park is the home region of world-famous Prosciutto di Parma and Parmesano Reggiano cheese, food is something you simply cannot miss. Imagine watching the making of parmesan cheese in one of the park's dairies, visiting a parma ham factory, or just tasting the interesting and unique local cuisine in all its variations. Food could justifiably become the primary purpose of a trip to TEA National Park! In Italy, local food mirrors local culture: the Park's rich and unique culture in the Park reflects its rich and unique cuisine. Both food and culture vary according to the side of the Apennines you are on, and in the history of the particular village or even family you encounter.
The quality of food in the park's restaurants is astonishingly high (and the prices often astonishingly low), because local restaurants are where local families go to enjoy Sunday meals or to celebrate birthdays, promotions and special occasions. It is almost impossible for you have a bad experience! In the park's restaurants, you will taste parmesan cheese and parma ham as you have probably never done before: freshly cut and mere miles from their sources.
The park's visitor centers are also restaurants, making the trip from one visitor center to the other a very good way of tasting the park's diverse cuisine.
When you visit a restaurant or visitor center, be sure to ask what food is typical of the place! You will not be disappointed.