South of Reggio

South of Reggio

The hilly area south of Reggio is a cheese country: by the road you can see many boards advertising the local parmigiano-reggiano, and in the town of CASINA, some 20 km from Reggio on the N road 63 do La Spezia, the popular Festa Parmigiana festival takes place in August, when the cheese is stirred in the vats with huge wooden vats. The landscape is a mix of lush pastures and rocky highlands and hiking trails, but with hiking it is better to wait for the higher mountains. If you have your own transport or are ready to figure longer on the road, hoping for an opportunity, a side road leads from Casina to CANOSSY. It was the seat of the powerful La Canossa family, whose most famous representative, Margrave Matilda of Tuscany (The Grand Countess) it was widely known here in the 11th century, which in medieval society was rather unusual. She was said to have put on armor herself and led the army into battle, and in age 43 years she aroused indignation among the aristocracy by marrying a 17-year-old girl. During the battles between Pope Gregory VII and Emperor Henry IV, she sided with the papacy and helped bring the barefoot emperor here., who humbled himself in front of Gregory, when he was excommunicated. Henry was reportedly waiting for three days in the snow, before the castle gate was opened for him. The remains of the castle (IV-IX wt.-nd. 9.00-12.30 i 15.00-19.00, X-III wt.-nd. 14.30-17.00; 1000 L) come mainly from the 13th century., more impressive, however, is the location itself on the karst rock: From here you have a view of the mountains and the castle of neighboring Rossen on one side and a number of towns on the plain on the other.

The inhabitants of the surrounding cities like to come here during the weekends, to eat at local restaurants: it is also a popular hiking and skiing area. In autumn, mushrooms are harvested here or spring water is stocked from the mountains. Places, to which people would come specially, there are few and only those get here, who are going across the Apennines to the coast. The entire route is covered by two buses a day, and more of them run on shorter routes, but this journey takes some time. The road is winding and steep, and the horizon is constantly changing as you cross mountain ridges or drive through villages with tall houses directly adjacent to the road. Best to come here in late spring or early summer, because in autumn the landscape is often covered with fog and clouds.

High in the mountains, paths lead to the crinale. One of the possible bases for expeditions to the mountains is CASTELNOVO NEMONTI. A little further, in BUSAN, the road turns left and descends in a series of dizzy bends under the dangerous rock overhangs into the Secchia valley, climbing on the other side via CINQUECERRI to LIGONCHIO - another good excursion base, away from the cable cars and ski lifts, from where you can climb the nearby Monte Cusna. Nearby is Prati di Sara, a windswept grassy mountain hall, interspersed with ponds and rarely overgrown with single trees. You can spend the night in one of the shelters grouped around the GEA trail (Grand Apennine Excursion); it is a 25-day route winding on both sides of the border between Emilia and Tuscany. If 25 days are too many, Italian Alpine Club (• 0522/36685) w Reggio przy Corso Garibaldi 14 sometimes organizes weekly trips.

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