Valle di Pietrapazza
A forest trail passes along the whole length of this small forgotten valley of the Bidente river at Pietrapazza and allows you to immerse yourself in a natural and human fresco contained in the Romagna region of the National Park of Casentino Forests that is both fascinating and ever changing. The vegetation and fauna are gradually reclaiming a territory that man has abandoned after having tirelessly fought to tame it over the centuries.
Cobbled mule tracks, mills, wayside shrines, bridges, cemeteries, churches and houses that are now in ruins tell of a cycle of centuries that has now ended while a new cycle is beginning. If you proceed up the valley from Poggio alla Lastra you can retrace the steps of human settlement in the past, though little time remains as nature is fast reclaiming and covering everything. You can also get an idea of the contrasting environmental situation and imagine the difficulties involved in living here: on one slope there may be a patchwork of pasture or arable land, while on another there are sparse juniper bushes; one slope can accommodate a house, while another has a steep wall of clay.
While the valley is narrow and deep, it does widen slightly where it crosses side valleys, and actually broadens at Strabatenza, with a wide sunny area that enabled vine-growing, until you reach Pietrapazza from where the valley starts. While some settlements (Ca' di Veroli, Rio Salso, Trappisa di Sotto, Trappisa di Sopra, Ca' di Pasquino, Cortine) have been restored, many other houses and hamlets have been completely abandoned. The settlement of Pietrapazza - a church, a cemetery, a rectory, a bridge, a shrine and a little group of crumbling houses - is the paradigm, the synthesis of this abandoned valley, which is both beautiful and melancholic.
BY CAR: from Bagno di Romagna travel to S. Piero in Bagno along the SP. 138 road; after going through the town turn left onto the SP. 26 road almost to S. Sofia (km 14 km), and at km 1.1 turn left onto a secondary road. The winding road continues for 5.5 km to a small group of houses at Poggio alla Lastra. From here a dirt road crosses the valley for 10 km. ON FOOT: follow the trail (CAI trail 209 and Val di Bagno Trek) that starts in Bagno di Romagna and leads to the church of Pietrapazza at the head of the valley (7.5 km).