The Acquerino Cantagallo Nature Reserve is an area of outstanding natural interest. Observing the geology of the area, the backbone of the mountains in the reserve is mostly composed of large sedimentary rocks. The main characteristic is the variation between sandy banks of rock (sandstone) and layers of clay rock (schist).

The plants in the area are mainly characterized by dense chestnut and beech woods. Conifer woods can also be found in areas which were, once, fields used for crops or for grazing. Here, the Douglas fir, silver fir, Norway spruce and black pine stand tall in the forest. The lowest point in the reserve is at around 400 metres and it is covered with chestnuts used for wood and harvested for their fruit. Many trees have been cut down, even up to 800 metres above sea level. This is a traditional method of cutting and regrowing pre-existing fruit orchards.

Sometimes, chestnuts and various types of oak grow together on the warmer mountain slopes. In some clay soil areas, you will see groups of hornbeams (found in Southern Europe) and ash. On cooler slopes on the mountains, laburnum (also known as Golden Rain) and holly are found. Tall poplar trees and black alders line the many streams. At around 600 metres above sea level, the first few beech trees can be found in shadier sections. Then, up to 800 metres above sea level, they can be seen more frequently together with chestnuts.

Sole tra gli alberi nella Riserva Naturale Acquerino Cantagallo
Continuing even further up the mountain, the beech trees become almost dominant, taking over all the slopes up to the peaks and ridges. These woods are very ancient and they have been cut and regrown. They no longer have their original productive function.

Around these areas you can find the splendid beeches which merit a particular mention. The trees were placed here by the farmers to show cultivation divisions of land: Here, you can see rows of tall trees, generally found along ridges, paths or roads. The trees’ function, as well as defining the borders of the territory, was also to produce seeds for animals to forage. These trees were also used to repopulate the forests. You can see the main nurseries near Le Barbe area and on the top of the mountain which divides the Limentra valley.

The fields for farming were completely abandoned when the farm at Luogomano closed, but now they have almost been completely reforested with conifer trees. The undergrowth in the wood is filled with long grass. This is a characteristic of shaded areas. In lighter areas, with more fertile ground, you can find bramble bushes and ferns. Common broom plants can be found where the soil is poorer.

The Guardian of the Reserve

The Faggione of Luogomano

The Reserve is also home to majestic trees, commonly referred to as “Patriarchs” because of both their longevity and size. The most impressive and special trees in the reserve are the Faggione of Luogomano, the Chestnut of Vespaio, the Oak of Poggio Tondatoio and the Holly of Luogomano.

The Faggione of Luogomano was a 300-year-old monumental tree. It was formed by two trunks that grew and joined together at the base, which was probably due to an ancient cut in the tree where two shoots grew and united together. In 2013, a part of the tree collapsed due to a heavy snowfall. Before 2013, the trunk had a diameter of around 5 meters and its canopy covered an area of more than 600 square metres. It was thought to be the biggest beech tree in Europe.

Unfortunately, in September 2022, the remaining half collapsed due to strong winds. Nevertheless, its spirit lives on, in the memories of those who stopped to greet it during every excursion, as if it was a friend.

The Wildlife of the Reserve

The Acquerino Cantagallo Nature Reserve is a perfect habitat for many species of animals. Discover more about all the inhabitants of the Reserve!

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Segnale Monte Bucciana nella Riserva Naturale Acquerino Cantagallo
To receive more information about the area, the Reserve, the Association and our activities, feel free to contact us. The Acquerino Cantagallo Association is always ready to welcome ideas and suggestions and answer your requests.

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