Surface Area: protected area 4,837 ha, adjacent area 5,832 ha
Antola Park represents one of the most charming areas of
the Ligurian Apennines. The territory is characterized by hills and
mountains and borders in the north with Piedmont and in the east with
Emilia-Romagna. It can also be easily reached from the Province of
Pavia. It consists of two valleys (Scrivia and Trebbia Valleys) which are
very different from a geomorphological point of view: from rocky
formations like the Savignone conglomerate to the sweet hills of the
marly limestone of Antola.
The protected area is characterized by a great variety of environments: overhanging rocky slopes, woodlands, pastures, clearings, watercourses and basins rich in water, valleys, and panoramic summits. As a matter of fact, from the summit of Mt. Antola you can enjoy the view of a great natural, historical, architectural, and traditional heritage.
Antola valleys are also an ideal place to practice sports and other activities thanks to the thick network of hiking itineraries (270 km of paths, almost all signalled with F.I.E.): horse riding, canoeing (kayak) along the watercourses of Trebbia and Scrivia Valleys, climbing and mountaineering, mountain-biking and cycling; paragliding and hang gliding (Mt. Maggio), sport fishing, winter walks along the whole ridge of Antola, with cross-country skis or ski touring.
Mt. Antola is the highest peak in the Park (1,597m) and it is situated
on the ridge linking the upper Valle Scrivia with the upper Valle
Trebbia. It is known for its charming bloomings coloring its slopes. Besides the abundant narcissi in bloom, flowers that are rare today in Liguria, you can admire various species of orchids, gentians, lilies, buttercups, and columbines...
A traditional destination for hikes, Mt. Antola is a historical crossroads which, through a network of paths and mule tracks, has allowed the movement of local communities and their commercial and cultural exchanges.
Next to the summit, where the new Park mountain hut will soon be completed, you can enjoy a wonderful view which, if the weather is fine and the sky is clear, goes from the Ligurian Sea to the massifs of the north-western Alps (Monviso, Rosa, Bianco).
Following Val Vobbia, whose stream flows into the Scrivia in Isola del Cantone, you will be fascinated by the wild scenery offered by the canyon dug in the conglomerate rock. Between two natural puddingstone towers, Castello della Pietra was built in the year 1000: it represents one of the main attractions of the valley characterized by steep rocky slopes alternating with slopes covered by chestnut tree woods. The chestnut tree, which has been introduced in the area by the local population, has been one of the most exploited resources in these valleys until the half of this century. Its fruits were either eaten as fresh fruit, or grinded in the mills to produce flour after being dried in typical stone buildings (the so-called "seccherecchi"). The widespread use of the chestnut tree as firewood and as timber has led to the transformation of the high trunk chestnut tree woods into coppice woods. Despite this, it is possible to find woods with centuries-old chestnut trees both in Val Vobbia (for instance, by following the self-guided itinerary "Il Sentiero dei Castellani") and in other valleys of the Park.
Val Pentemina and Val Brevenna
Val Pentemina and Val Brevenna have a great historical importance given to the evident traces of the farming culture which they still preserve on their slopes. The presence of ancient rural villages (among which Pentema, Senarega, Chiappa, Casareggio, and Tonno), of terraced areas, and of agricultural manufactures, is the evidence of centennial activities which have granted the survival of the local communities thanks to the toil and work of entire generations. The mills (in Porcile in Val Brevenna there is a mill which has been recently restored) and the so-called "Casoni" are particularly widespread in the territory: they are stone buildings which were used until some decades ago for the summer hay harvest and grazing.
Upper Val Trebbia
In Upper Val Trebbia, the exclusive charm of the natural
environments is enriched by the rare presence of scattered villages on
the ridges. Moreover, the presence of rich basins and watercourses (Brugneto Lake,
the Terenzone, Cassingheno, and Trebbia streams) and of great beech
tree woods, increases the naturalistic value of this valley. In
particular, the stream Trebbia, with its clear waters and its typical
meanders, represents a traditional point of interest for tourists and
sport-loving people. There are many evidences of the rural civilization
and of its influence on the landscape.
The meadows and the pastures, still used for summer grazing, give the possibility to appreciate a rich flora characterized by several rare and protected alpine species and a fauna consisting in several endemisms and more common animals (fallow deer, roe deer, foxes, and other mammals, together with amphibians, reptiles, birds, and the wonderful butterflies coloring the meadows of Antola).