(Photos by Giulia Bianchi and Nevio Agostini)
In these unexpected mild days of late winter we venture on the ancient mule tracks worn by the steps of wayfarers, charcoal burners, peasants and woodcutters in the now wild and lonely Pietrapazza valley, searching of the first season blooms. We follow a short stretch of the CAI 209 path that climbs up from the picturesque Pietrapazza Church, and then take path 205 accompanied by the roar of the Fosso di Ridolmo. Walking along the beautiful ridge lying on marly-arenaceous rock formations, typical of the Romagna side, it is not uncommon to find colorful yellow-fuchsia blooms of Polygala chamaebuxus, a plant very widespread throughout the Alpine arc and rarer in the Apennine reliefs. Leaving the ridge, we descend into the woods towards the bridge over the Bidente. Here, in the undergrowth environments, the first primroses emerge, together with purple brushstrokes of Hepatica nobilis, in harmonious contrast with the equally florid blooms of the green hellebore. Looking up we are struck by the spots of the hazel trees and the Cornus in bloom that decorate with yellow the winter forest. Continuing along the path, after the Eremo Nuovo, take the forest road which climbs in wide turns until you reach the Cancellino-Lama track. Here another world opens up: enraptured by the charm of the fir of Brasco, among imposing white firs and crocuses in bloom, we refresh at the Cavalle source. After the short break, we set off again in direction of Siepe dell'Orso through the forests dominated by beech, white fir and maple trees. The path descends along the slope in franapoggio to lead us back to the oak, maple and hornbeam woods where we are wrapped in the yellow embrace of a flowering Cornus that forms a romantic arch above our heads. Finally we reach the valley and return to the Pietrapazza church, thus concluding the ring. You can consult a detailed description of the route in the paper guide "A Piedi Nel Parco" (volume 1) available at the PNFC offices and online at the Emporio dei Parchi. The GPS track can be downloaded from the website trekking.parcoforestecasentinesi.it Have a good journey and good blooms!