The Middle Enza Valley: the beach of Reggio Emilia


42026 Canossa


Piazza Matteotti, 28 - loc. Ciano d'Enza, 42026 Canossa (RE)
0522 248411, 0522 248450


Periods of Activity:

All year round.

The conduct:

By car or bike


The Enza Valley is one of the most popular places in the province of Reggio Emilia with its own inhabitants. The beautiful landscape is gentle, in a way that makes it blend in with the same identity of the lower and medium Apennines. It is not monotonous, however, thanks to some touches of geological harshness and unexpected glimpses over the horizon, which is embellished by the outline of the castles. The network of Matildic fortresses and hamlets which still preserve traces of medieval towns and architecture, provide good attractions for tourists and walkers even from further afield. In the warmer period, its main attraction is, however, the river, which is generally clean and has a natural appearance. The restaurants which line the river banks (although good cuisine can also be found in the towns in the valley) provide an extra reason for visiting this fine border land between the provinces of Reggio Emilia and Parma (on which, up until the early nineteenth century, the majority of these places were dependent). For those interested, let us also add the tight network of footpaths and trails across the fields. They are partly signposted, sometimes well, often not, but it is difficult to get lost in any case. The numerous guidebooks which can be found in bookshops, at the town halls or in the tourist information offices are helpful. It is always advisable to obtain information before visiting the area.

Tourist Area:

Media Val d' Enza

Details of tour:

Detailed Itineray:
Length of the route: 71 km
Our itinerary starts by reaching the valley along the classic road which passes through Emilia-Rivalta-Montecavolo-Quattro Castella and S. Polo-Ciano, which is reached after a pleasant journey of 25 km, which takes us, on the left (at around Km 16) past the four spectacular hills on which fortresses were built by Matilda and on which the castle of Bianello remains intact (now open to the public). This is part of the circuit of Matildic Castles and Courts of Reggio. Before Ciano, at the end of the straight section of road (ex SS 513 of the Enza Valley, now a provincial road), which leads north from S. Polo alongside the river (which can't yey be seen at this point), we go through a shopping area, which may be worth a stop for those interested. A few kilometres after Ciano, the river finally becomes visible from the right lane, near to the catchment of the canal which breaks away at this point, where a restaurant with a private car park acts as a starting point of the long "beach" of the river. It is visible for only a short while, however, because we suggest turning left at the Cerezzola junction (6.5 km after Ciano), down the fast provincial road 79 towards Trinità (this itinerary deliberately breaks away from the river to propose some more unusual internal routes). After a few hairpin bends we come to a small car park, where a visitor's information board and a striking monument in white marble indicate the nearby presence of the Tempietto del Petrarca. During his numerous journeys, Francesco Petrarca also stayed in the suggestive Matildic lands around Canossa (in 1341 it is recorded that he stayed at the castle of Rossena). In 1343, Petrarca was the guest of Azzo da Correggio in Parma, when he accepted the invitation to go first to the castle of Guardasone then Selvapiana, where he stayed to rest and write in peace and at one with nature (it is here that he completed his epic poem Africa). To commemorate this noble guest, between 1838 and 1847 upon the initiative of certain gentlemen of Parma and with the financial contribution of Duchess Maria Luigia, a precious little temple was built in Selvapiana and embellished with pictorial decorations made using the encaustic technique, by Francesco Scaramuzza and by a statue by Tommaso Bandini in Carrara marble. To reach the monument we have to leave the car in the car park and walk a few hundred metres along the lovely footpath through the woods. We recommend a visit to the temple, especially at weekends during the spring and summer, when the temple is open to the public (for information contact the Everelina Cultural Association, mobile +39 334 1499059, e-mail: Further down the provincial road, the view is even more specactular: on the left stands the castle of Rossena (and the tower of Rossenella), on the peak of a huge bed of blood-red rocks, made up of the volcanic ophiolites of Campo Trera, which recently became a natural reserve acknowledged by the Region of Emilia-Romagna. This is one of the "main landscape attractions" of our itinerary, which continues further, just brushing against the Selvapiana region, although this would deserve a brief detour itself. It is worth a detour to see some examples, albeit not striking, of typical architecture and to take a footpath (which can be taken also from this point) which reaches the 'Tempietto'. The same applies to Monchio Delle Olle: enthusiasts of old stone houses can find some interesting examples, including a sixteenth-century tower house. Otherwise, we recommend keeping to our route. After passing through Trinità, we come across a three-road crossing: take the middle road towards Vedriano-Pietranera, adjusting the speed to the condition of the road, which is not perfect. Before reaching Vedriano we come to a second landscape viewpoint, with a view of the Pietra di Bismantova, which can here be seen from an unusual angle. The area of Vedriano can be a good hunting area for those interested in the values of traditional architecture. The nearby location of Pietranera and Case Paoli offer perhaps the most interesting examples. Our route continues along a truly poor stretch of road towards Roncovetro. For those who feel up to driving at cycling speed, paying attention to the ground which has no asphalt at certain points (the road crosses a large landslide), keep on the road, where you might see deer crossing, as happened to the undersigned author). Otherwise, it is advisable to take other roads. Those who do decide to continue (and we underline an off-road vehicle is not necessary!), will be rewarded by the pleasure of driving along roads which are totally unknown, except to the locals. The taste of discovery. The circuit closes with the return journey on the road through the Enza valley, just before Compiano (from Roncovetro follow directions for Borzano). We continue down the former state road for short distance, cross the bridge over the River Tassobio and in Buvolo, we then turn left for the second circuit proposed by this itinerary, i.e. the one which will take us to Vetto after a reasonable trip around Mount Pineto. The road is full of curves. It is not wide but the surface is good. Unlike the other circuit, here the panorama is definitely woody, with sections of the road passing through the trees, which form a sort of tunnel. Of particular interest: the rare pine woods before Piagnolo and the medieval village of Scalucchia. When we get to a high bridge over the Tassaro stream (which bears a long memorial plaque written in Latin to commemorate the daring building project, but the plaque is recent, in spite of the peculiar use of Latin: it dates back to 1959!), we are met by a charming view: the old church of San Giorgio of Croara, built on the woody slope of the mountain in front of us. Once we have reached the church after the hairpin bend in the road which runs beside it, we stop: not for the church itself, which is almost always closed and of a low architectural impact, but for the panorama before us and the remains, just above the church, of the old castle of the Da Palude family (a demonic head once belonging to the castle is now embedded in the side wall of the church). Our route continues towards Legoreccio (tower house), Casalecchio and Castellaro (keep right at the junction). When we reach La Strada, we take the central road towards Pineto and Spigone. After passing through a narrow passage in Spigone (adjacent to a well-known farmhouse offering accommodation), we go downhill towards Vetto, where we are met – at last – with the view which opens out over the Enza valley. Once we have reached Vetto, it is well worth taking a break in this provincial capital, where there are many hotels, bars and restaurants. For those who wish to admire a much loved hamlet, it might be worth extending our route to include a visit to Gottano Superiore, which still preserves a wealth of traditional architecture, including suggestive arched underground passages. To return to Reggio Emilia, we can take the fast route along the former state road 513 or, alternatively, the road which passes through Castelnovo né Monti following the Cerreto state road 63.

Last update: April 11, 2022