Hiking all year round in the Gola del Furlo Nature Reserve

10 Jan

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Le Marche in central Italy is a perfect place for a peaceful stay, thanks to the picturesque villages and stunning countryside. Less well-known than other places in the region, the Gola del Furlo Nature Reserve, with its 52 kilometres of mountain trails, roman history and unspoilt beauty are easily accessible for days out from Cagli. Trails are well sign-posted and lead visitors through woods and meadows on the summit of Monte Pietralata and Monte Paganuccio, with other, more challenging routes for more adventurous walkers. Visitors can park at the reserve’s visitor centre in the village of Furlo di Acqualagna or near the Enel dam and the church of Pietralata, which can be used as a starting point for hikes. An up-to-date map of the trails can be downloaded at: http://www.riservagoladelfurlo.it/vivere-la-riserva/carta-escursionistica orpicked up at the visitor’s centre where plenty of information about the reserve is available.

For further information contact the Reserve’s Visitor Center (phone: 0721-700041; E-mail riservafurlo@provincia.ps.it) or the holiday home Bonclerici House in Cagli (phone 0721-1708302; E-mail info@bonclericihouse.it) which promotes sustainable tourism and is partner to the Reserve in the achievement of CETS (European certificate for sustainable tourism).

Families with children might prefer the easier, flat walks along the Via Flaminia to the two roman tunnels. The longer tunnel which was created under the rule of the emperor Vespasian in 76 A.D., together with the adjoining shorter tunnel and other remains within a few kilometres, are an unmissable attraction for anybody interested in history and archeology. The via Flaminia, built by consul Gaio Flaminio in 220-219 B.C. to connect Rome to Rimini was one of the most strategically important in the road network of ancient Rome as it connected the capital to the North. Just ten years later, a few kilometres from the Gola del Furlo, the romans defeated the Carthaginian troops of Hasdrubal reversing the situation in the second Punic War, in the decisive battle of Metauro.

It is possible to walk to Monte Pietralata along the asphalt road from outside the Visitor Centre. It is worth stopping to take in the view from the panoramic terrace overlooking the gorge, with the Appenines on the right and the Adriatic Sea in the distance to the left. On the side of Monte Pietralata, you can still see an imposing head of Mussolini which was carved into the rock in the 1930s by supporters  of il Duce as he used to stop in the village on his way to Rome.

Hiking through the woods and the meadows of the summit, walkers can admire the varieties of native flowers and protected plants. The area is rich with wildlife such as wolves, fallow deer, rodents and birds of prey such as the golden eagle (symbol of the reserve). You may even catch sight of the animals or their tracks, which makes the visit even more special. The area along the Candigliano river where the hydro-electric dam was built, is also a favourite spot for passionate ornithologists who, through the changing seasons, dedicate themselves to the observation of migratory and sedentary bird species.

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