A long and very intense stage on the Great Apennine Excursion, almost alpine due to the two important climbs and the open views.
One of the most evocative stretches of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines: the Passo di Pietratagliata sometimes recalls the Scottish Highlands, while the aerial summit of Monte La Nuda (1,839 m) is preceded by the beautiful Vallone dell'Inferno.
The stage is to be faced entirely only if well trained. Otherwise, it is possible to break it at Passo del Cerreto or at Bivacco Rosario.
Some sections of the climb to Monte La Nuda are steep and demanding.
The subsequent southeast ridge of Monte La Nuda is sometimes slightly exposed, be careful in case of strong winds.
The only water point is at the Passo del Cerreto: bring a good supply.
We skirt the small lake of Monte Acuto and enter the woods on the path of the Great Apennine Excursion. Shortly after, we descend (about 200 m drop) rather steeply on a path covered with leaves (pay attention, it is easy to slide on the smooth rocks hidden by the foliage) in the direction of the Ghiaccioni. At the end of the descent, we leave the woods and cross the small glacial plateau. We start the climb (approx. 350 m height difference) to the Passo di Pietratagliata. The climb, on a good track, is gradually more decisive. We reach Passo di Pietratagliata (1,780 m), suspended on the ridge between Monte Alto (1,904 m) to the south and Alpe di Succiso (2,018 m) to the north.
We resume again downhill (approximately 500 m drop). After a more decisive but easy first part, we pass the sources of the Secchia, cross a plateau, and return to the woods. We continue to the Passo dell’Ospedalaccio, where we find the 00 path which we easily follow up to the Passo di Cerreto (1.261 m). It separates the province of Massa from that of Reggio-Emilia (those who are tired can break the stage here).
We take the road to the southeast, then resume the 00 path (GEA) and begin the second demanding climb (approx. 600 m height difference) of the day, which develops along the wild Vallone dell'Inferno. The first part, in the woods, is relatively easy: after passing the picturesque Bivacco Rosario, we leave the trees and face the last climb towards a pass, from where we quickly reach the top of Monte La Nuda (1,893 m), with an old abandoned radio station. To the east, less than 1 km, stands the Gendarme della Nuda, a rocky pinnacle that can be climbed with an easy via Ferrata.
We continue on the 00 path, remaining always (or almost) on the ridge, very aerial, with easy ups and downs, gradually losing altitude (approximately 250 m drop). Back in the beech forest, we cover the last kilometers on a wide path and arrive at the Passo di Pradarena.
The Passo del Cerreto has been symbolically named Gate of Europe and the Mediterranean. It is in fact a real climatic gateway, ideally separating territories with climatic differences that have given rise to different habitats, Mediterranean on the south side and still continental or alpine towards the north.
The use of the land is also different and this has created distinct panoramas: on the north side the landscape is dominated by pastures and forage of Parmigiano Reggiano, on the south side, as you get closer to the sea, the pastures and fields give way to the vine and the olive tree.
What today is the National Park of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines (established in 2001) has been for centuries a large border region, where the traditions and cultures of the two sides have met, in an ancient connection that comes from the common root and from a historical sharing of the ridge pastures.
However, Western and Eastern cultures have never completely merged, rather maintaining peculiar aspects and a certain basic parochialism (which today has a mostly folkloristic vein), demonstrating how much the ridgeline and the Apennine passes, like Cerreto, are real borders and not simple lines drawn artificially on a map.
Not far from the Passo del Cerreto (about 1 hour walk, on the Tuscan side) is the Frignoli Biopark, a site dedicated to the study and conservation of the naturalistic and cultural heritage of the northern Apennines and the Apuan Alps.
The biopark contains a botanical garden, an arboretum, a large open-air fish tank, a small adventure trail for the little ones, and finally a beautiful guesthouse, for those wishing to stay overnight.
For more info, timetables and tickets, follow the LINK.
The “climatic door” of the Passo del Cerreto means that two culinary cultures inevitably meet in the kitchen of the park: that of the North, which uses butter and cream, and that of the South, inextricably linked to olive oil.
Sometimes the two traditions are mixed in different ways and the recipes are transformed north or south along these ancient roads: often the same name of a dish, such as the excellent Rice Cake, from one side to the other, indicates different dishes.
Albergo Passo del Cerreto, at the pass of the same name. Tel. +39 0585 949666
Bivacco Rosario, under Monte La Nuda (west side); only 2 benches and stove (but lots of good comics!). Always Open.
Rifugio Carpe Diem, at the Pradarena Pass. Tel. +39 0522 160 7395
Starting point NOT reachable by car.
The closest location that can be reached by car is Passo del Lagastrello.
Departure point NOT reachable by bus.
The nearest location reachable by bus is Rigoso, starting from the city of Parma with a change in Langhirano and then in Palazzo.
Here the LINK to check the timetables.
Starting point NOT reachable by train.
Va' Sentiero is a grassroot project, thanks to the spontaneous contribution oft housands of people.
Even the most complicated dream, a 7,000km uphill dream,
can be achieved... together.