The Parco dei Sassi di Roccamalatina covers 2,300 hectares of protected land situated on the beautiful Modenese hills. It is characterised by sandstone peaks which stand out in this otherwise soft landscape which is made up of ancient chestnut groves, woodland and fields.
The peaks are approximately 70 metres tall and are true natural monuments, consisting of the highly erosion-resistant strata compared with the rest of the surrounding countryside.
The characteristics and features of the park
Sassi di Roccamalatina Park has a high level of biodiversity concentrated in a small space, enjoying species such as the Mediterranean plant, Erica Arborea alongside others such as beech and bilberry. The park is rich in orchids, anemone, bellflowers, lilies and cyclamen, all of which bring colour to the woods, glades and the rocky outcrops.
The park’s habitats are recognised by the European Union as being of Community Interest and are of great value, such as the alluvial alder forests or the Festuco-Brometalia shrubland. No less important are the animal species which include; badger, porcupine, fox, roe deer, deer and marten. Those of Community Interest include the stag beetle, crayfish, the crested newt, the Peregrine falcon, woodlark, the nightjar and the horseshoe bat. The presence of wolves has been confirmed but they are very elusive.
A wide variety of environments adds undoubted value to the protected area. There are chestnut groves, typical of more mountainous areas, argillaceous areas of the foothills, riparian forests, gravelly river beds, karst phenomena with caves and craters, cultivated hills and small medieval villages.
Amongst parishes, ancient towers inhabited by swifts, villages, “Borlengo” and chestnut museums and a Tigella exhibition, you can find a rich culture and many local specialities. This area of over 100 kilometres of pathways can be enjoyed on foot, horseback or on mountain bike along 12 signposted routes.
The area covers the Comune of Guiglia, Zocca, Marano and Unione Terre di Castelli.
Roccamalatina and Sassi village
The name, Roccamalatina, derives from that of the noble family called, “Malatigni" who, from the 12th to 14th Century, controlled a large part of the area. The area between Guiglia and Zocca owes its fame to the Sassi, the imposing sandstone peaks which dominate the Panaro valley.
The Sassi, impregnable natural fortresses, provided fortified settlements from ancient times. It is possible that during the Byzantine period a defensive wall was built to keep out the Lombards.
At the foot of the Sassi, the charming village of Borgo dei Sassi (Rocca di Sopra) lies perched at the foot of Sasso della Croce. From here it is possible to see well-preserved buildings with portals from the 13 and 1400s and the Oratorio della Madonna dei Sassi, with bas-reliefs from the 1400s. In an alcove on the altar of the Oratorio, you can find the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary who is considered by the people of Roccamalatina to be the protector of the town.