The Tresinaro loop: from the Querciola area to the Carpineti area, passing through Baiso
- 0522 810430 IAT di Castelnovo ne' Monti
- 0522 812313
Periods of Activity:
Details of tour:
Reggio Emilia - Viano (main road) 32,5 Km;
Baiso - Valestra - Carpineti 12 Km;
Casina - S. Giovanni di Querciola - Albinea (without detours) 20,5 Km Our suggestion is to drive to Scandiano and then take the SP7 along the bottom of the Tresinaro valley. If you are coming from Reggio, you may prefer the route passing through Albinea that turns right before reaching Scandiano itself, at the junction with the Lo Stradello hothouses and the horse riding centre on the right.
Iano, Mazzalasino, Cerro, Rondinara, again alongside the Tresinaro brook. The easiest and most obvious option is to take the main road as far as Viano. But if you are looking for a more adventurous trip, and you have time on your side, there is another option taking you to San Romano and Visignolo (left turning after Rondinara). You will need a map because road signs here are few and far between. The road surface is not particularly good either and at times, the road is so narrow you will have to slow the pace right down. So, why bother? For the sense of adventure as you explore areas well off the beaten track. If that is not incentive enough to get you out and into the driving seat, we can also add that this route offers some fabulous views just before you reach Baiso of some of the most spectacular ravinesin the Province, with outcrops of dark red clay. Budding photographers will love the feeling of a lunar landscape. Standing proud in the background and seen from its best angle, is the huge mass of b>Mount Valestra, considered a sacred site by the ancients (and it is easy to see why: no other mountain, with the exception of the Pietra di Bismantova, in the Mid Apennines stands out quite as markedly).
When you arrive at Baiso, the route continues towards Castagneto and Valestra (look out for directions when you come to the junctions) unless you are unable to resist the temptation of a dip in the town's lovely open air swimming pool, of course.
The town of Valestra nestles at the foot of Mount Valestra, which rises up incumbent with sandstone walls that look much less inviting at close range than the gentle–looking hill you imagined from further afar. The village is currently being renovated but has kept hold of its traditional charm with its pretty stone houses and a lovely large picnic area. It is a great place for an "al fresco" lunch if you don't want to eat indoors at one of the popular local restaurants. Talking of restaurants, you might want to look out for mutton on the menu, as this is a peculiarity of Carpineti and the area around Mount Valestra in particular. Lamb is commonly served throughout Italy; mutton, on the other hand, is quite rare. The people from Carpineti are well versed in the special preparation that mutton demands, unlike the rest of the country, and make a sort of "ham" 3 to 4 kg in weight (called a "violino"), seasoned steaks (called "barzigole") and stews. What lies behind this unusual local custom? Historian Arnaldo Tincani offers a possible explanation in the fact that the Byzantines defended a line along the mountains and troops of soldiers camped here for quite some time. They were probably responsible for passing on this custom, which may have originally come from Greece or Turkey. The road skirts around the bottom of Mount Valestra and goes south in the direction of Carpineti. The best route, provided you keep an eye out for the road signs at the junctions, is to carry on to Montelago and Savognatica and then to continue past the hairpin bends that take you up onto the crest of the mountain and dauntingCarpineti Castle (the town of Carpineti is a few kilometres further on, down the other side of the hill). Even if you get lost (easily done if you don't have a map to hand), there is no problem in finding your way to Carpineti. It is the main town in the area and the starting point for many self-guided itineraries demanding the barest of preparation. But it's important that you make the effort and get off the main roads. The area is bursting with medieval history, when the dominating principles were decentralisation and the variety of roads: every hamlet has a story to tell (for example, try looking out for the remains of the castle of Mandra which resisted attack by Reggio in the 14th century. You will have to cover the last leg on foot. Ask locally for information).
There is a detour between Valestra and Carpineti, but the turnoff is not that easy to spot (you will have to ask the locals for help) to San Vitale Church that probably has Byzantine origins (road passable by normal cars, with caution). A hostel and restaurant has set up store in the old vestry, that was renovated with funds from the Jubilee. There's no better choice if you fancy spending a night in the sort of place you don't come across every day. You need to book in advance (call Ideanatura at +39 0536966112 or mobile +39 3392943736). If coming to this marvellous corner of the Apennines by car is your idea of sacrilege, you can walk up from the castle of Carpineti: the path is an easy thirty-minute stroll.
You certainly should not leave Carpineti before visiting the castle, which is included in the Circuit of Matildic Castles and Courts of Reggio. Countess Matilda herself was responsible for boosting this important stronghold, even though it was already mentioned in much earlier documents. In 1077, Pope Gregory VII stayed at the stronghold after the encounter at Canossa. Matilda's death in 1115 marked the end of this packed period of events in the castle's history. In the centuries to come, it had a succession of different owners, including Domenico Amorotto, the legendary "bandit of the mountains" (16th century). The castle gradually fell into decline and by 1978 it was in such a sorry state that the Province of Reggio Emilia decided to buy it. A great deal of restoration has been done on the building since then and the castle is now open to visitors. Just below the castle is a well-preserved, Romanesque-style church dedicated to Saint Andrew.
Casina is a short drive from the town of Carpineti along a stretch of the new SS63 road, through the 2-km long tunnel. From the centre of Casina, the route takes the main road back to Reggio, passing through San Giovanni di Querciola and Regnano. The first detour is a turnoff on the right as you drive down the hill, to visit Giandeto and Crovara. A great number of tower houses can be seen in this area. Crovara is a small village with a densely packed cluster of turreted buildings dating back to the 15th century and is probably one of the most attractive stone villages in the area.
Back on the main road, the easy drive takes you to Albinea the gateway to the low-lying plains below. But there are two other side trips first: the church and hamlet at Santa Maria in Castello, one of the most charming places in the Querciola area and the Mid Apennines, and the celebrated Regnano "salses" (at the bottom of a short path, starting out at the Vulcanetto restaurant), a truly strange volcanic phenomenon with little mounds of mud bubbling with underground gas. But there is no danger.
Last update: April 11, 2022