Appennino Parmense Orientale

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Parma/Emilia-Romagna, Italy, Europe
Hiking, Mountaineering, Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing, Toprope, Bouldering, Ice Climbing, Scrambling, Skiing
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
6106 ft / 1861 m
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Appennino Parmense Orientale
Created On: Jan 12, 2012
Last Edited On: Dec 1, 2017


Appennino Parmense Orientale - View on Central Peaks
Central Area peaks seen from Monte Orsaro m. 1831
Appennino Parmense Orientale - View from NE
Central and Western peaks seen from Rocca Pumacioletto m. 1690
Appennino Parmense Orientale - View from NE
Lago Santo-Holy Lake Area peaks seen from NE
Appennino Parmense Orientale - View from SW
View on Western peaks from South-West (Tuscany)
Appennino Parmense Orientale - View from Passo Paitini
Monte Sillara m. 1861 and Rocca Pianaccia seen from Passo Paitini

Appennino Parmense Orientale

The Apennines are the longest mountains’ chain in Italy. They are divided in three main parts: Northern, Central and Southern Apennines.
Northern Apennines run from West to East, separating the greatest Italian continental North Plane (Pianura Padana) from the Italian peninsula, bordered by Mediterranean Sea.
Northern Apennines are divided into two parts again: Appennino Ligure in West side and Appennino Tosco-Emiliano in East side. The Appennino Tosco-Emiliano, situated between Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany administrative districts, shows some different areas: it’s named Appennino Parmense Orientale (Eastern Parmese Apennines) the area located inside the Eastern part of Parma Province administrative boundaries and running between Passo del Cirone in the Western side and Passo del Lagastrello in the Eastern side.
The main valleys of this area are Val Parma in the Western sector and Val Cedra in the Eastern sector. As in all Northern Apennines there are not very high mountains and rocky ones are few.
The highest peak of all the district is the secluded Sillara 1861 m, with its fine Laghi Sillara (Sillara Twin Lakes), situated one hundred meters below the mountain summit ridge, on its Northern side. Marmagna 1851 m is otherwise the best known and more frequently climbed peak inside the whole Appennino Parmense. The reason of its reputation is mainly due to three important factors: its closeness to Rifugio Mariotti, a popular hiking, mountaineering and ski-mountaineering destination; the easy access both in winter time and in the other seasons along its Normal route starting from the same shelter; the renowned view over Alpi Apuane and Tirrenian Sea with Gulf of La Spezia, Portovenere, Palmaria - and even Corsica in the clearest winter days - enjoyable from the summit.
In late spring, summer and early fall, when the area is the domain of the trekkers rather than the mountaineers, the highest peaks show a typical landscape: the majority of the summits are covered by high prairies, with few rocky buildings emerging from, and all of them are simply reachable by hiking.
Nevertheless, both rock climbers and ice climbers can find an interesting and suitable play ground. The most interesting peaks to climb multipitch routes are Monte Scala, Rocca Pumacioletto and Stagnoni. Moreover, some fine cliffs had been equipped to enjoy sport climbing in early spring and summer inside the magnificent Lagoni or Laghi Gemini (Twin Lakes) area, as Falesia del Lago Scuro, Falesia dei Lupi Mortacci, Il Canyon and the new Falesia degli Anelli.
The district is also renowned to practice bouldering on several blocks of excellent "macigno" in Lagoni and Lago Verde areas.
During the cold season the district offers magnificent winter ascents to several peaks, which summits can be reached along normal routes with low technical engagement, while ice climbers can climb some interesting gullies and little ice-falls.

Getting There

The forest road to BadignanaThe forest road to Badignana in winter

Parma is the nearest town to the area; it’s a 200.000 inhabitants town, the capital of food valley, the famous food production and factory district. Its airport offers some domestic flies and only a few international ones. A good choice of international flies is provided by Milano and Bologna International Airports, both at a reasonable distance (about 110 km to Milano and 90 km. to Bologna).
Parma is linked to other Italian and European towns by A1 (Autosole) and A15 (Autocisa) motorways, so logistic is not a problem.

Access from A15 (Autocisa Motorway) – Following A15 towards North exit Pontremoli and follow the road to Passo del Cirone and Bosco di Corniglio. From here follow the road towards the locality named Cancelli. If you’re driving on A15 towards South it’s better to exit to Borgo Val di Taro and follow the road to Passo del Sillara and Bosco di Corniglio.

Access from Parma

-To Lagdei and Lagoni sectors: from Parma follow the SP 665 (Massese) towards Langhirano and Capoponte; here turn to right, reaching Corniglio, Bosco di Corniglio and the locality named Cancelli.

-To Valditacca and Pratospilla sectors: from Parma follow the SP665 (Massese) towards Langhirano and Capoponte; here carry on straight following the road towards Palanzano and Monchio delle Corti.

Nature and climate

St John's lilies (Lilium bulbiferum)
St John's lilies (Lilium bulbiferum)

Crocus Vernus - Eastern Parmese Apennines
Crocus Vernus

Silver Thistle
Silver Thistle -Cardo Argentato or Cardo di Montagna (Carlina Acaulis)
Globularia cordifolia, Monte Scala (Appennino Parmense)
Globularia cordifolia, Monte Scala

The area, usually as far as 1.600 m. of altitude, is covered by a dense magnificent forest, perfectly preserved through several years of massive deforestation (in the beginning of the twentieth century), due to mountain people’s poverty situation in that period. Due to the great difference between winter climate – snowy and cold – and summer’s climate – relatively warm – the arboreal species that succeed in this environment have adaptations to both seasons.

Monte Matto final ridge
Monte Matto final ridge
A beech, still bare - Appennino Parmense
Fagus Sylvatica (Beech)
An ice sculpture at Monte Orsaro
Ice embrodery on Monte Orsaro

The autochthonous beech (Fagus Sylvatica) is the original and largest specie in the area. We can find a lot of wonderful specimen which can reach heights of 20-30 mts, with characteristic straight trunks.
Evergreen conifers as White Firs (Abies Alba) where added later as the result of forestation’s work.
Rocks, forests and climate create a landscape similar to the north Scandinavian one.
The climate is a sub-continental one, so we have cold and snowing winter and summer not too hot due to the sea influence and wind action.

Main Trails


Inside the area there is a thick network of trails marked and maintained by C.A.I. Club Alpino Italiano Sezione di Parma, introducing the hiker to the discovery of all the main landscape’s features, to visit the numerous small lakes and to the observation of the ancient glacier’s traces.
An easy and very satisfactory trail marked 00 and oriented W to E crosses the whole chain along the main boundary’s ridge dividing Emilia-Romagna and
Tuscany. This trail constitutes the Parmese tract of G.E.A. Grande Escursione Appenninica (Great Apennines Trail), a 400km trekking that runs along the ridge of the Appennino Tosco Emiliano between Passo dei Due Santi on the borders with Liguria and Bocca Trabaria on the border between Umbria and Marche.

Marmagna summit cross
Marmagna summit cross
On the trail to Lago Verde
On the trail to Lago Verde
On the trail to Lago Verde
The enchanted wood

Most interesting walks, on well worn paths:

- Trail 00 from Passo del Cirone m. 1255 to Passo del Lagastrello m. 1153 (Parmese tract)
- From Lagdei to Lago Santo Parmense
- From Lagdei to Capanna Schiaffino
- From Rifugio Mariotti to Monte Marmagna
- From Lagoni Forest road to Capanne di Badignana and Sella del Brusà
- From Lagoni Forest road to Fontana del Vescovo and Passo Fugicchia
- From Lagoni to Lago Scuro and Capanne del Lago Scuro
- From Lagoni to Lago Verde
- From Lagoni to Buca della Neve (Snow Hole)
- From Valditacca to Laghi Sillara and Monte Sillara
- From Pratospilla to Lago Ballano and Lago Verde
- From Pratospilla to Lago Palo

Main Summits in height order

Main Summits (in order of height)

With a few exceptions, the peaks are mainly lined on the boundary ridge - called "crinale" by the local mountaineers - between Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany and run along the North West - South East direction from Passo del Cirone m. 1255 to Passo del Lagastrello m. 1153.

Monte Sillara
Sillara m. 1861
Monte Losanna
Losanna m. 1855
A winter image of Monte Marmagna
Marmagna m. 1851

M. Sillara m. 1861 is the highest summit, located above the namesake lakes in the Eastern sector - M. Losanna m. 1855, is very close to Sillara - M. Marmagna m. 1851 located in the group Marmagna-Braiola-Orsaro, in the Western sector, is the third highest summit and the most attended one.

Monte Matto with Anti-Matto from Scala summit
Matto m. 1837
Monte Orsaro seen from Monte Braiola
Orsaro m. 1831
Monte Braiola seen from Monte Marmagna
Braiola m. 1821

M. Matto m. 1837 consists of a main summit, dominating the basin of the small Lago Bicchiere, and a well separated fore-summit, known as Anti-Matto - M. Bragalata m. 1835 is located in the Eastern sector, close to Sillara and Losanna - M. Orsaro m. 1831 is the most representative summit of the whole area, though not the highest - M. Braiola m. 1821 is separated from Orsaro by the Bocchetta dell'Orsaro o dei Contrabbandieri

Monte Brusà
Brusà m. 1796
Rocca Pianaccia seen from Sillara summit
Rocca Pianaccia m. 1762
Monte Aquilotto summit ridge
Aquilotto m. 1747

M. Paitino m. 1814 - M. Brusà m. 1796 - M. Bocco m. 1790 - M. Aquila m. 1779 - M. Uomo Morto m. 1773 - Rocca Pianaccia m. 1762, is one of the few mountains not lined on the boundary ridge - M. Aquilotto m. 1747

Detail of Torricella South summit
Torricella m. 1728
M. Roccabiasca and Pradaccio Lake
Roccabiasca m. 1727
Monte Scala emerging from the sea of clouds
Scala m. 1715

Cima Canuti m. 1743 - Torricella m. 1728 - Roccabiasca m. 1727- Scala m. 1715

Crossing Monte Pumaciolo West slopes
Rocca Pumaciolo m. 1711
Spring at Dark Lake
Rocca Pumacioletto m. 1690
Monte Navert
Navert m. 1654

- M. Malpasso m. 1713 - Rocca Pumaciolo m. 1711 - Rocca Pumacioletto m. 1690 - M. Fosco m. 1680 - Navert m. 1654 - M. Tavola m. 1508 - Sterpari is a minor summit, located above Lago Santo, near Rifugio Mariotti.

Winter routes and ice climbing

Ice climbing main peaks

All the mountains can be reached during the winter along the Normal routes; although easy, these itineraries in wintertime may often require a specific gear - ice axe and crampons - in the presence of conditions with icy slopes and ridges, which tend frequently to occur during the winters with reduced snowfall. Besides the Normal routes, there are some mountains that offer the possibility of winter climbs along remunerative and more technical ice-gullies, such as Monte Scala 1715 m, Roccabiasca 1727 m and Torricella 1728 m.

After the storm
Monte Scala NW face in winter
Torricella West Gullies
Torricella West gullies
Roccabiasca West side
Roccabiasca W side in late winter

Rock climbing - Multipitches

Some summits of the Appennino Parmense Orientale offer the opportunity to make some interesting rock climbing in a beautiful setting. The kind of rock we find in the various walls and cliffs is a rough sandstone. Generally the rock climbing period runs from mid-May to mid-October.

Pumacioletto, the last dihedral on the route
Pumacioletto, the last dihedral on "Dies Irae"

Climbing on
Fine climb on "Il Corsaro Nero" - M. Scala

The best sites to climb multipitches are Monte Scala 1717 m. - Rocca Pumacioletto m. 1690 - Stagnoni m. 1200, plus other minor buttresses in the immediate vicinity of the Lagoni, such as Placche dei Lagoni, Placche dei Sorbi and Placca del Rifugio.

Monte Scala in autumn
Monte Scala West face in Autumn
Rocca Pumacioletto SW side
Rocca Pumacioletto SW side
Fall on Monte Scala
Monte Scala S face

Rock climbing - Single pitch crag

Lupi Mortacci cragLupi Mortacci crag
Lago Scuro cragLago Scuro crag
Asfodeli cragAsfodeli crag

Again the best crags to climb up single pitches are located in the Lagoni Area. There are various crags full equipped, as Falesia del Lago Scuro, Falesia dei Lupi Mortacci, Falesia degli Asfodeli and Il Canyon, and also some minor crags for trad climbing.

Lakes and ancient glaciers

Lakes and ancient glaciers

The area is best known as “100 Lakes Park”, because of the presence in the whole territory of several attractive very small and bigger lakes, having an ancient glacial origin, giving to the landscape a charming look.

Lago Scuro at Fall
Lago Scuro (Dark Lake) in Fall
Sillara Lakes in winter time
Sillara Lakes in winter time
Mist dropping over Lago Martini
Summer mist dropping over the small Lago Martini

During the Wurmian period the whole area was interested by a great glaciation. The landscape was sculpted by glaciers and today shows to the visitor’s eyes an undoubted evidence of the biggest glacier ever established in Apennines (very likely it was longer than 8 Kms, larger than 2,5 and higher than 200 mts). Rocks’ particular features and circular holes in the sandstone, rocky steps in the valleys and lateral moraines are a visible evidence of.

The Holy Lake (Lago Santo) seen from Monte Sterpara
The Holy Lake (Lago Santo) seen from Monte Sterpara
Lago Verde (Green Lake) in late Fall
Lago Verde (Green Lake) in late Fall
Rounded rocks around Upper Twin Lake
Marks of the ancient glaciers around Twin Lakes

The action of the huge glacier created numberless cirques, mainly oriented to North-North-East, having become the seat of the actual lakes. The best known of them are Laghi Sillara (Sillara Twin Lakes), Lago Santo (Holy Lake), the great Laghi Gemini or Lagoni (Twin Lakes), Lago Scuro (Dark Lake), Lago Pradaccio, Lago Verde (Green Lake), Lago Ballano, Lagastrello, Lago Verdarolo, Lago Palo, Lago Martini, Lago Bicchiere.

Pradaccio Lake from Roccabiasca summit
Pradaccio Lake seen from Roccabiasca
Twin Lakes (Laghi Gemini) from Rocca Pumaciolo
Twin Lakes (Laghi Gemini) from Rocca Pumaciolo
The little Glass Lake (Lago Bicchiere) in early spring
The small Glass Lake (Lago Bicchiere) in spring

Red Tape

Since 1995 the highest part of this area is situated under the regulation of a regional park having the evocative name of Parco dei Cento Laghi (One Hundred Lakes Park), in reason of quite a lot of small lakes existing inside the park’ s boundaries.
In late years this area was included inside a largest park, named Parco Nazionale Appenino Tosco-Emiliano (Tosco-Emiliano National Park); wood fires are prohibited as well as free camping and other harmful activity.
Walking and climbing are allowed and many trails are marked by Club Alpino Italiano Sezione di Parma.

Parco Nazionale Appennino Tosco-Emiliano
Parco dei Cento Laghi

When to hike and climb

The hikers can enjoy the trails all around the year; all the main summits can be easily climbed without the use of technical gear from May to November. Winter’s ascents along the normal routes - from December to April - are not difficult, but require the use of axe and crampons. Best months for ice-climbing (gullies) goes from middle December to the end of March, while the period to climbing ice falls is very short (from the end of December to the end of February); conditions can change very quickly even during the coldest months on account of marine wind’s action. Best season for rock climbing and bouldering goes from May to the end of October.

Huts, Bivouacs and Emergency Shelters

- Huts

- Rifugio Giovanni Mariotti m. 1507 (CAI Sez.di Parma)

Situation: Shore of Lago Santo Parmense
Owner: Club Alpino Italiano Sez. Parma
Phone: +390521889334
Mobile: +393492260668

- Rifugio Lagdei m. 1250

Phone: +390521889353
Mobile: +393332443053

- Rifugio Lagoni m. 1342

Situation: shore of Lagoni (Laghi Gemini)
Phone: +390521889118
Mobile: +393391776479

- Rifugio Pratospilla m. 1360

Phone: +390521890194
Mobile: +393319481820

The frozen Holy Lake (Lago Santo)
Rifugio Giovanni Mariotti at Holy Lake (Lago Santo)
Capanne di Badignana
Capanne di Badignana
Capanna Cagnin (Cagnin Hut)
The Cagnin Shelter at Green Lake (Lago Verde)

- Bivouacs and Emergency shelters

Capanne del Lago Scuro m. 1528 (Keys available at Rifugio Lagoni), Capanne di Badignana m. 1480 (Keys available at Rifugio Lagoni), Capanna Roberto Schiaffino m. 1610 - always open, Capanna Cagnin m. 1589 – always open, Capanna Forestale della Pianaccia m.1250 – always open

Capanna Schiaffino
The shelter "Roberto Schiaffino" in winter
Capanne Lago Scuro (Dark Lake shelters)
Capanne Lago Scuro (Dark Lake shelters)
Pianaccia Forest cabin
Pianaccia Forest cabin



Guidebooks and Maps

Appennino Parmense Orientale Map

Arrampica Parma Guidebook

ArrampicaParma - climbing, bouldering & mountaineering

Alberto Rampini - Silvia Mazzani

Rock climbing, ice climbing and winter mountaineering in Appennino Parmense guidebook - II updated edition

Pareti Ed. 2011
Appennino Tosco Emiliano Guidebook

Appennino Ligure e Tosco-Emiliano

M. Salvo - D. Canossini

Guida dei Monti d'Italia
CAI-TCI 2002

“Le valli del Cedra e del Parma (The Cedra and Parma Valleys)” Map 1:25.000 (CAI-Regione Emilia-Romagna)

“Alto Appennino Parmense Est” Map 1:50.000 (CAI-Regione Emilia-Romagna)


    External Links

    Parco Nazionale Appennino Tosco-Emiliano