English version

English version


The Sassoguidano Nature Reserve includes an area whose rare contents and assortment of species make it of great importance from a naturalistic point of view.

It lies to the southeast of the Municipality of Pavullo, within a larger SIC – ZPS (Site of European Importance – Special Protected Area) that overlooks the banks of the Scoltenna and Panaro Rivers. With its area of over 280 hectares, the Reserve has a north-east – south-westerly development of about 5 km and an altitude that varies from 460 to 704 metres above sea level.

How to get there

The Reserve is located about 9 km from the town of Pavullo, from which it can be reached using the SP 27 Docciola Road towards Verica, as far as the deviation to the right for Sassoguidano. Those coming from the road that follows the River Panaro along the valley floor (SP4), should take the SP 27 Docciola Road towards Pavullo, pass the town of Verica, travel 2 more kilometres and turn left into Via Sassoguidano.

Rules – Zoning and restrictions

The Reserve was established with Resolution no. 2411 of Emilia-Romagna Regional Authority on 8th March 1995. Its specific purpose is to guarantee protection to all the characteristics that make the area so wonderful. The last of Modena’s protected areas to be established, it was created thanks to the commitment of Pavullo Municipal Authority and that of the LIPU. The protected area has been divided into three parts with different levels of protection:



The specific purposes of the Protected Area are:

a. to assure the protection and conservation of the biodiversity;

b. to safeguard the geomorphology (superficial hydrology, Karstic forms, tectonic fractures, escarpments originating from the “Bismantova Formation”;

c. to safeguard landscape characteristics and promote their redevelopment;

d. to protect the flora, vegetation and fauna and their specific habitats;

e. to promote scientific and cultural research activities and environmental experimentation, teaching and education;

f. to favour farming practices with low or no environmental impact (e.g. organic techniques);

g. to promote the environmental redevelopment and restoration and the reconstruction of extinct natural environments;

h. to safeguard and promote the historical cultural and landscape heritage;

i. to promote the use of the territory in observance of applicable regulations.

The landscape

Reascending the wide Panaro valley, one has the chance to appreciate the typical features of the intermediate portion of the Emilian Apennines: the bottom of the valley is accompanied by gently uneven clayey slopes, on which the scarce vegetation alternates with calanques, landslides and quarry faces. Looking up to the ridges, the morphology is completely different: an impressive crest stretches 2800 m across the valley of the River Lerna and is interrupted by the deep incision of the water itself.

A plateau opens up at the top of Sassoguidano ridge, partially covered by woodland, a mixture of oak forests and old chestnut trees.

The water forms eddies and vortices as it works its way into the cracks and fractures in the limestone rock, widening them and making them gradually deeper.


Cinghio di Malvarone

One of the area’s most distinctive features is Cinghio del Malvarone, a mighty sandstone – limestone formation that provides an ideal habitat for many bird species, especially rare raptors. Attributed to the “Bismantova Formation” and consequently dating from Palaeocene times (65 million years ago), it is about 3 Km long and has an escarpment edge that can reach a height of 150 metres. It is cut by the Lerma River into a characteristic steep and rocky ravine created by the erosion of the river waters.

The Cinghio del Malvarone divides the Reserve into two parts: in the Sassoguidano plateau to the north-northeast and the lowlands that overlook the River Panaro in the south-southwest. The slopes are steep and the thick woodland alternates with light brown rock outcrops. The entrances to Karstic or tectonic caves can be seen along the walls. In addition to providing an ideal habitat for many species of birds and plant species, the Cinghio is also an important nesting site for the peregrine (Falco peregrinus), which finds protection on its rocky walls.




The Sassomassiccio marsh

A karstic depression collects the waters that form a small bog, the Sassomassiccio Marsh (636 metres above sea level), which is rich in interesting animal and plant species.

The wetlands are an important biotope characterised by the presence of Hottonia palustris, which lives at altitudes of up to 800m and loves peaty, shallow beds (20-40 cm). Although it is rare in Italy, here it can be observed in abundance, alongside other rare species, such as Thyphaceae. Water violet roots are joined to the bed, whilst the leaves and stems grow upwards, remaining submerged. The stem gives off flowers that emerge as pretty white-yellow verticils that in late

spring entirely cover the pond.

Another plant species that makes the pond water pink in springtime is Myriophyllum spicatum, with its pennate leaves and above-water flowers.

The pond is also home to a multitude of aquatic organisms, from microscopic daphnia to dytiscus; a number of dragon fly species spend their larval phases here and the adults can be seen in flight above the water or resting on it. Favoured by the absence of fish, many amphibians visit the pond during the mating season and in addition to the green frog and the European Tree Frog, there are three types of newts: the crested, the spotted and the less common alpine newt.

This small marsh was purchased by the Modena section of the WWF in 1994 with precise conservation and research purposes.



At Sassoguidano, the visitor can rediscover harmony of plant life. Those who recognise and belong to this harmony feel the need to get to know and study with an ecological eye every living thing. The most represented forest formation is constituted by coppices of oak (Quercus pubescens). These are mainly mixed forests that on account of the slopes and the arid soils are particularly widespread in the southern part of the Reserve.

The northern part is populated by Turkey oaks (Quercus cerris) and the second most dominant species is the beech (Fagus selvatica) although in other areas, the beech, which is rare at these altitudes, would appear to dominate. The wood of European Hop-Hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia) can be seen above all north of Cinghio di Malvarone, and the sunnier areas are dominated by the juniper (Juniperus communis) and weaver’s broom (Spartium junceum), as well as the many aromatic herbaceous plants like Foeniculum vulgare or Allium schoenosprasum.

The chestnut woods (Castanea sativa) testify to a farming activity that has left its mark on local forest landscapes.

A great variety of orchids can be observed, such as Orchis simia, O. bertolonii, O. fructiflora, O. apifera and O. insectifera that make a stroll through the reserve’s woods in May an unforgettable experience.



The Reserve is home to a great many animal species including mammals, birds, reptiles and insects. Birds are undoubtedly the animals that can be most readily observed and the Reserve is an excellent place for bird watching, especially on account of the spectacular presence of the birds of prey. In addition to the common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), the common buzzard (Buteo buteo), the Eurasian sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) and the Eurasian hobby (Falco subbuteo), the area’s most famous raptor is the peregrine (Falco peregrinus), which visits and nests in the Cinghio di Malvarone. Also worthy of note are the honey buzzard (Pernis apivorus) which ransacks beehives and the rare northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), which nests in the woods. The daytime raptors that can be spotted include the spectacular golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) that travels to Sassoguidano from higher altitudes above all to hunt. There are also a great many nocturnal birds of prey.



In the heart of the Reserve, close to Sassoguidano church is the Visitors Centre, originally a characteristic country house that has been renovated using environmentally friendly building techniques. Inside, in a room with a chimneybreast, the visitor finds a warm welcome, information and promotional material, information on the trails and also has access to a small exhibit room on the upper floor and the chance to take part in the activities organised in the teaching room.

Three thematic trails lead to the discovery of geological, botanical and natural features.


Work is currently in progress to favour activities such as bird watching and mammal watching, as well as making the Reserve safer in order to guarantee use by all.

Orienteering and trail- orienteering enthusiasts will be able to practice this fun sport on a 4 km2 competition ground or a 200 m track for handicapped users.

The Reserve also boasts 3 picnic areas located at the start of via Sassomassiccio, by Sassoguidano Church and in the courtyard area of the Visitors Centre.



Proprietà dell'articolo
creato:lunedì 9 febbraio 2009
modificato:giovedì 14 luglio 2011