Here mountain to you city…

The year 2019, so decided the “leaders of our world”, is dedicated to those who want to travel the Belpaese at a slow pace, walking on foot, by mountain bike and on horseback, to reach “our” personal destination.
Those who frequent the mountains and those who walk along the Francigena roads already know the strategy: slow and short steps, backpacking with the “minimum” inside (in my case also with photographic equipment, not always very light) and go…

A new way to make tourism by promoting innovative travel experiences that for me are related to the Apennine hiking, practicable all year round, and the francigene paths in Italy and Spain.
With this short article, however, I would like to give just a few examples, with a small initial consideration.

In the Piacenza area, to implement this type of tourism, it would be necessary to quickly implement the maintenance of the forests for hiking … and also agricultural (with the utmost respect for the environment) and the creation of pedestrian and cycle paths to facilitate the safe walking of more and more pilgrims who pass through the Piacenza area to Rome.

The woods of Piacenza, all, from the hill to the mountain, are in a state of serious abandonment with a devastation such as to risk their final disappearance in vast stretches, often the most beautiful. But it seems that I was of little interest to the regional institutions (perhaps because up here there are few voters?).


Between 2017 and 2018 I took part with some friends in the tracing, arrangement and “information” of 14 hiking trails in the upper Val d’Arda, in the territory of Morfasso and surrounding areas. This experience has also led to the creation of a small guide of 108 pages, which has been almost completely sold out.

This experience has extended the network of trails that had previously been realized with the contribution of the historical association CAI and other groups of voluntary sports-amateur-tourist.
Interventions of little impact, with a really minimal cost but of great effectiveness and appreciation.


Remaining in the area of the ridge closest to the Val d’Arda I would like to dwell on a small area, between altitudes starting from 800 and just over 1350 meters, between the towns of Bettola, Farini, Gropparello and Morfasso, to the most unknown anora. A small territory based in Prato Barbieri, crossroads of this area of the upper Apennines reached with ease, despite the devastated provincial roads.

The places included in this small “district” of the Apennines are Santa Franca, La Penna (La Penna and not the Monte Penna that is on the other side), the Guselli Pass and the Passo Delle Donne, Prato Barbieri, Monte Menegosa, the Cross of Signs, San Michele, Groppoducale … and many other places in the area.

Places that offer a long and varied path, mostly marked and with many information signs, places that offer incredible views, cool in summer, spectacular blooms in spring, super foliage in autumn …

For the sake of brevity, I would like to point out three hiking trails and the tour operators who work hard to offer services in these parts.

Anello de La Penna (arrival and departure at the sanctuary of Santa Franca, with a panoramic stop at Mount La Penna and passage to Montelana, after having walked through the beautiful woods).

Ring Alta Valchero (arrival and departure in San Michele with a stop in Prato Barbieri, passage to the passes of Guselli and Delle Donne, with panoramic views of the valley of Chero and view, on the best days, of the Western Alps).

Ring of the “cod”, so defined because it begins and ends at the Trattoria Alberici where on Friday you eat “cod and polenta” … like in the past (arrival and departure in Groppoducale, near the farm, with passages in the ancient stone villages of the “magnificent” local medieval university, with ascent to Prato Barbieri and passage to Ronchi).
Needless to say, these are really beautiful areas, with paths that are easy to follow in every season.

A special mention, as already mentioned, I would also like to reserve it for the few operators in this area.

-La Lumaca di Prato Barbieri: in a few years it has become, thanks to the young and dynamic management of Giovanni & family, the meeting point for all those who love to walk our mountain of ridges and “passes” between Val d’Arda, Val Nure and Val Chero. Here you will always find a warm welcome, tranquillity, a good sandwich, a glass of red wine, a hot dish, a coffee and, in summer, the coolness of the Apennines.

-Mill Hall: opposite the Snail, with its organic flours ground into stone and the point for the sale and consumption of its agricultural products.

-Alberici dalla Rosina Restaurant: in Groppoducale, “the enogastonomic institution” of this part of the Apennines, famous for its cod and polenta, offered all year round, and its home cooking which offers tortelli with spinach and ricotta cheese, anolini, poultry meat and cakes with authentic ancient flavours.

And in the area, to demonstrate the vitality of this species of “mountain island” between the Valleys of Chero, Nure and Arda, I certainly do not forget these others.

-Farm holidays “il castagno”: in Costa di Groppoducale, another local excellence with handmade pasta with unforgettable flavours.

-Trattoria-norcineria F.lli Salini: in Groppallo, where the tradition of Piacenza cuisine is combined with the hotel and the butcher’s shop. A place where you can taste, when available, the rediscovered ancient “mariola”, a slow food garrison of pleasure.

But this is not the end of it!

You can eat well in Obolo, not far from Prato Barbieri and San Michele di Morfasso, in places located within the mentioned ring – excursion “Alta Val Chero”.

Belveri Rosella bar-restaurant: in Obolo di Gropparello, a simple, old-fashioned and welcoming place, where traditional Piacenza dishes are well cooked.

-Rapacioli restaurant-pizzeria-bar: in San Michele, with kitchen and accommodation.

-La Risorgiva” holiday farm: in Oddi di San Michele, specialists in traditional Piacenza dishes, with excellent fresh pasta and beef and poultry reared on the farm.

And finally, for those who climb up to the Cross of Signs there is the refuge of Monte Moria (in winter open only in the afternoon).

Easy excursions, simple food, tranquility of the area, beautiful views, sense of freedom are the strengths of this mountain micro-area briefly described: an island in the mountains that will appreciate the happy hours spent walking and enjoying unforgettable refreshments.

Paths of Morfasso, Valtolla, Valdarda, Prato Barbieri, photos and text of sergio efosi valtolla]