Stirone and Piacenziano Regional Park
This park, particularly rich in fossil outcroppings, stretches out over the hills in the provinces of Parma and Piacenza. It includes the river basin area of the the Stirone River, for about fifteen kilometres starting from Fidenza, and nine smaller areas of great palaeontological interest located between Castell’Arquato, Lugagnano Val d’Arda, Vernasca, Gropparello and Carpaneto Piacentino.
The village of Vigoleno offers a view over the Stirone valley and you can admire almost all of the entire park, which, besides its interesting landscape (the river, woods, areas with crevices), contains a precious historic and artistic patrimony among the small medieval villages and castles set back among the green hills.
Places of interest
There are many places of interest worth visiting in the park: Vigoleno and its caves, San Genesio with facilities for visitors, alluvial terraces, San Nicomede and the “Cascatelle” (waterfalls), the Outdoor museum, the riparian woods in the hamlet of "La Bocca”, the craters carved out by the Stramonte River, and the chasm near Montezago. The Castello di Scipione, Salsominore and Castell'Arquato are sites of interest near the protected area. For hikers or visitors wishing to learn more about the area we recommend the walks detailed below. From Fidenza to San Nicomede: 4 hours and 30 minutes. From May to August this trail is interrupted to allow the bee-eaters to nest; contact the Ente Parco for information. There are other paths in the main places of paleontological interest of the protected area. Also worth visiting, in the town of San Nicomede, is the learning area of the Wild Animal Rescue Center (CRAS) “Le Civette”, open to the public on weekends, with the chance to observe birds of prey in this area.
On the sides of the rivers the vegetation is typical of that found along waterways with plants growing on the exposed river bed (hemp agrimony and cocklebur) and on the banks (willow, white poplar, black poplar and false indigo); various species of birds populate this area, in particular the bee-eater and kingfisher. Moving away from the river there are oak woods and some of the rarest species of this park can be found in the undergrowth: dogtooth violet and burning bush. The meadows are the ideal habitat for the cluster-head pink and certain species of orchids.
Mammals typical of the mid and lower Apennines that can be seen in this park include hares and hedgehogs, while badgers, foxes and beech-martens are more elusive; there are also many bats, including species of notable conservationist interest. In addition to the avifauna already mentioned, the park is home to the Peregrine falcon, the European honey buzzard, hoopoe, great-spotted woodpecker, lesser spotted woodpecker, nuthatch and golden oriole. The park’s herpetofauna is also of great interest. Amphibians include different common species along the river areas of the mid and lower Apennines. In regards to reptiles, here in the park the rare natrix or viperine snake can be found.
Visitor Centre and Natural Museum of the Parco
Scipione Ponte, 1
Salsomaggiore Terme (PR)
Tel. and fax: +39 0524 581139
How to get here
Take the A1 motorway and exit at Fidenza-Salsomaggiore Terme: follow the directions for Salsomaggiore Terme and after the town of Ponte Ghiara take the provincial road (SP) to San Nicomede and Scipione Ponte; the main places of interest of the park are signposted along this road.