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Home Apennines and Nature Natural parks Cento Laghi Regional Park

Cento Laghi Regional Park

The Cedra Valley and Parma Regional Park, also known as Cento Laghi Park, includes a section of the eastern upper Apennines near Parma, on the boarder of the provinces of Reggio-Emilia and Massa-Carrara.  With a various range of altitudes (from 400 to 1650 meters above sea level) this park offers a wide variety of environments and biodiversity.


The park is well preserved and for centuries the nature here has been integrated with the presence of humans.  It is home to excellent agricultural and food specialties that are well known and greatly appreciated worldwide, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano DOP and Prosciutto di Parma DOP.



Created in 1995 as the Parco di Crinale dell'Alta Val Parma e Cedra, the Regional Park, an area of 3,670 acres with an adjoining space of 61,349 acres, is not only charged with protecting splendid summit environments, full of nature and almost completely uninhabited, but must also try to promote the rural landscape of the middle mountains, still very well maintained and home to a wide range of biodiversity, agriculture, local foodstuffs, culture and tourism.


Environment and Landscapes

The various habitats and altitudes give life to a mosaic of landscapes which are really interesting and make the Park a complete environment, where centuries of nature commune with everyday life.


The land in the protected area is heterogeneous and multifarious, thanks to the fact that it spreads out over a space ranging from hills (450 meters above sea level) to the low valley of the Torrente Parma, up to the imposing cliffs at the foot of the Apennine peaks and along the secondary ridge (1500/1600 meters above sea level).  From the greenery and agriculture of the hills to the mountainous areas where there are still traces of the last glaciation (between 75,000 and 10,000 years ago), this park is a string of different environments, each with its own natural, cultural and landscape characteristics.


The mountainous ridges, placed perpendicular to the main peaks, create a beautiful series of little valleys, cut through by crystal clear rivers and dominated by some peaks which are like natural “balconies” (M.te Caio 1584 m, M.te Navert 1657 m, M.te Torricella 1728 m, M.te Cervellino 1492 m).



The various altitudes, the fact that the slopes are exposed on various sides and the geo-morphological complexity of this area have fostered the presence of dense vegetation, both grasses and trees, both conditioned by the presence and activities of humans, but which are also a live testimony of a long ago past almost unknown to most people.  The presence of humans can be seen most in the vegetation along the slopes rising up from the valley floors at 900-1000 meters above sea level: woods with broad-leaved trees growing in groves for wood production which alternate first with arable lands and then with fields used as pasture or for hay, dotted with hedges, rows of trees and stonewalls, which are more frequent around small towns.


Along the slopes to the north, in the woods, which occur naturally, there are mostly Turkey oaks and black hornbeams, along with field maples, manna ashes and mountain ashes; sometimes there are also downy oaks along the shady slopes.  In the underbrush there are often laburnum, hazelnut trees, hawthorns and blackthorns and among the grasses, there are many flowering plants such as primrose, hellebores, wood anemone, lungwort and violets; in the summer the orchids and  blue bells are lovely.


The woods growing along the moraines were substituted at some point with chestnut groves, which after the war were slowly abandoned, transformed into copses and then gradually invaded by the original woodland plants of this area.  In the park, however, many well taken care of chestnut groves remain around the Corniglio Woods and between Casarola, Riana, and Montebello, where the foliage of the chestnut trees offer shade to the thick underbrush.  From 900-1,000 up to 1,700 meters above sea level the beech groves cover the mountain slopes, broken only by fields and rocky outcrops.


In the most difficult to reach places, the beech groves of the Park are home to little groups of age-old White Firs, Red Firs and Yews, the remnants of woods that were once abundant in this area of the Apennines.  Their history is linked to the climate changes over the years in these mountains after the last glaciation, which was favorable for the growth of white firs and then red firs, while the actual climate, good for beeches, has caused the gradual decline of these conifers.  Also the use by humans of this prized fir wood has increased the natural decline of this species.  The safeguarded groups of these trees in the Park represent a unique and original genetic heritage, useful also for scholars in piecing together the natural history of these places, and they are also a reserve of biological diversity for the woods in the Apennines.


Flowering plants are spectacular and abundant in this Park, and are sometimes also quite rare, such as the  Primula apennina, a plant which grows only in the mountains near Parma and Reggio-Emilia and that, just after the snow melts, blooms in the most rocky and difficult to reach places.  High altitude river banks and some glacial basins of the high Val Cedra are home to vegetation and flowers typical of wetlands.  In some places, the lake basins have been overrun by peat, thus creating very fragile and rare ecosystems better known as peat bogs.



Due to its particular characteristics, this Park is the ideal habitat for many species living in the Emilia Apennines, both in the areas near mountain peaks as well as in the hills and mid-range altitudes.  Some symbolic species (wolves and golden eagles in particular) are rare testimonies to this healthy environment, while a multitude of other species can be found thus contributing to the high biodiversity and "variety of life".


Among the symbolic animals of this park, the Apennine wolf is definitely the most interesting because this species, traditionally subject to heavy persecution, has begun expanding over the last few years.  The cause of this very positive change were not the alleged, and nonexistent, introduction of new animals by humans, but rather the noticeable increase of available prey, especially ungulate animals, as well as the depopulation of the mountains and its subsequent cessation of agriculture and forestry in this area.  All of these favorable conditions have contributed to the recolonization of wolves in the northern Apennines, expanding out from the central Apennines where the wolves were able to survive slaughters.


Deer, which usually thrive in lower altitude environments, are present here thanks to a series of attempts to repopulate, and over the last few years the deer population has definitely increased.  The most common animal is the wild boar, but also this species has been suffering due to heavy hunting over the last few decades.


Birds, among the vertebrates, are the groups with the highest number of species, both stationary and migratory birds, which almost always cross through this area of the Apennines.  The Lagastrello Pass (high Val d'Enza) is home to the migratory stop of many falcons and columbiformes, while along the passes of Cirone and Cisa (Val Parma and Baganza) there are many passeriformes.

The most important and fascinating of these species is the golden eagle, which has been nesting in the few and priceless rocky cliffs of the Park.  Among the birds of prey that nest in this area, there are also the honey buzzard, goshawk, sparrowhawk, buzzard, kestrel, hobbies and Peregrine falcons.


Also typical of this woodland ecosystem are the horned owl, hoopoe, and the lesser spotted woodpecker.  Where there are beech trees, there are also many marsh tits, Eurasian bullfinches, and  great spotted woodpeckers, while in the repopulated fir forests there are Eurasian treecreepers, European crested tits, and the golden eagle.  Rivers and occasionally high altitude lakes are the ideal habitat for the rare white throated dipper, which loves places with clear, fast flowing waters.


The so-called "minor fauna" includes all the animals that, even if they are often forgotten or treated badly, play a fundamental role in the ecosystem.  These species are in fact predominant in Italian fauna, and represent the main links of the food chain, essential organisms for the regulation of biological cycles.


Among the minor fauna, the small mammals are represented by shrews, voles (among which the European snow vole), hazel dormice, and dormice.  Also foxes, badgers (in the areas where fields alternate with woods), weasels, skunks and martens are common.

Fish are also common, including the brown trout which can be found in both lakes and rivers.  Amphibians are also present in the pools and near rivers, such as the northern crested newt, fire salamanders, toads, common and agile frogs, which can easily be spotted in the cool, grassy areas, under rotting tree trunks and stones and in the underbrush.


Reptiles include the Italian wall lizard and the European green lizard; the most common snake, and the only one dangerous to mankind, is the asp viper.

Parco Regionale dei Cento Laghi

Temporary Park Headquarters G. Ferrari, 5
43013 Langhirano (PR)
Tel. +39 0521 354111 - Fax +39 0521 858260


Park offices in Corniglio

Located at Ex Colonia Montana - 43021 Corniglio (PR)
Tel. +39 0521 880363 - Fax +39 0521 881287

Park offices in Monchio delle Corti
Via Parco dei Cento Laghi, 4 - 43010 Monchio delle Corti (PR)
Tel. +39 0521 896618 - Fax +39 0521 896714


Information Point

c/o Hotel Ghirardini

Via Bosco, 106
43020 Bosco di Corniglio (PR)

Tel +39 0521 889123 - Fax +39 0521 889001


Interactive Multimedia infopoint in Boschetto

Loc. Boschetto, along the road S.P. 665 “Massese”, Tizzano Val Parma (PR)



Parchi del Ducato

Portale Parchi della Provincia di Parma

Parchi Emilia Occidentale


How to get there

Take the A1 motorway and exit at Parma, then follow the SS 665 Massese road or take the A15 Cisa motorway and exit at Berceto. To reach the eastern side of the park follow the SP 68 road up the Enza Valley.

Last modified Jun 29, 2017

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