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Parco Regionale della
Vena del Gesso Romagnola
Home » Territory » Parco Regionale della Vena del Gesso Romagnola

Protected Area

  • Land Surface Area (ha): 2.042,00
  • Lower altitude (m): 50
  • Higher altitude (m): 515
  • Regions: Emilia Romagna
  • Provinces: Bologna, Ravenna
  • Municipalities: Borgo Tossignano, Brisighella, Casalfiumanese, Casola Valsenio, Fontanelice, Imola, Riolo Terme
  • Establishment Measures: L.R. 21/02/2005
  • PA Official List: EUAP0696

Il Parco

Vena del Gesso Romagnola Regional Park was established by Regional Law No 10 on February 21st, 2005.
The overall area covers 6,063 hectares, of which 2,041 hectares of park and 4,022 hectares of contiguous area. The Park is composed of: an A zone (strict reserve), 52 hectares; a B zone (general reserve), 749 hectares; a C zone (environmental reserve), 1,240 hectares.

In Romagna's western Apennines, the gypsum vein (Vena del Gesso Romagnola) intersects the valleys of Santerno, Senio, Sintria and Lamone, about 10 kilometres before they join the plain. It is a ridge of calcium sulphate at various stages of crystallisation, imposingly layered, outcropping for about 20 kilometres and with a maximum width of one km, across the municipalities of Casalfumanese, Borgo Tossignano and Fontanelice in the province of Bologna, and of Casola Valsenio, RioloTerme and Brisighella in the province of Ravenna.

Because of its size and composition, of its extraordinarily varied morphology, and of the typical flora and fauna it harbours, the gypsum-sulphate ridge has deeply affected the surrounding landscape, favourably influencing the four valleys' microclimate, and also leaving its mark in history and in people's lives.
It is a natural and historical heritage, that surprises and fascinates hikers walking on the Park's trails. Some of them run across the spurs, in the green and shaded north-facing slope or in the bright dryness of the southern ones, which used to be called "moonstones" for the way they reflected the moon's light. Other trails wind along the ridge, and at every turn they offer evocative glimpses of the crystallisation of gypsum or of ponors, karst springs and caves that bear the signs of ancient human presence, rare botanical species, and wild animals rapidly running away.

The life and work of man have left their traces, too: dwellings, ruins of religious or military buildings, or ancient gypsum caves. But the most rewarding hike is right along the watershed: a trail that fills the eye and the soul with the Vein's abundance and the view embracing the mountain and the valley.
On one side, the green-blue ridges follow one another as far as the eye can reach;
On the other, beyond the dry spiderweb of the gullies, the plain is white with houses, villages and towns, and bordered by the sea, which looks from here like a long, blue line.

Vena del Gesso Romagnola
Vena del Gesso Romagnola
(PR Vena del Gesso Romagnola)
The blind valley of Rio Stella
The blind valley of Rio Stella
(M. Costa)
Path of Monticino Museum
Path of Monticino Museum
(M. Costa)

Historical landscape

The connection between man and the gypsum vein is ancient and manifold. In the proto-historic period the caves of Tanaccia and Re Tiberio were used as shelter and, in their deepest parts, as a cult place of the god of water, whose pounding could be heard in the pits. During the Middle Ages religious and military settlements were built on the Vein, in Brisighella, Rontana, Monte Mauro, Sassatello, Rocchetta, Tossignano, Gesso.
They were often built using gypsum blocks, and the same is true for rural houses in Crivellari, Borgo Rivola, Gesso, and for the towns of Brisighella and Tossignano. The use of fired gypsum is more ancient and widespread, as mentioned in a chronicle of Brisighella from the year 1594: "mountains of gypsum which, fired and ground, is excellent for building houses"; for over five centuries, gypsum workers toiled in the quarries of Tossignano, Brisighella and Borgo Rivola.
Generations of farmers also lived around the Vein, using the woods and farming the land above the cliffs; and thus creating a pleasantly varied landscape, with copses, grazing land, vineyards, fruit orchards and olive groves. The Vein sheltered the area from the northern winds and created a favourable microclimate, as local peasants had well understood: in the Middle Ages they started farming the area and planting chestnut woods like the one in Campiuno.

Cave of Re Tiberio
Cave of Re Tiberio
(Gualandi Agostino)
Sala Laghetto along the tour of Tanaccia Cave
Sala Laghetto along the tour of Tanaccia Cave
(Piero Lucci)


To understand how a rock body formed, it is necessary to observe above all its shape and geometry: observing for instance if it is stratified, and in our case it is rather evident it is. Then it is necessary to study the materials forming the strata, the period, and the environment where they deposited, and with which formations are in contact, as well as the whole geological context welcoming them.

Marana Cave
Marana Cave
(M. Costa)


Vena dei Gesso houses an extremely rich and interesting flora: an extraordinary variety of environments welcomes almost 2,000 vegetable taxa (species, subspecies, and varieties), catalogued by Zangheri.
Despite the environment being harsh and inhospitable, the vegetation continuously changes the landscape, with unusual and extraordinary shapes and colors. There are wonderful violet orchids and white and yellow rock roses in spring, rare orange lilies in the meadows in June, rosy carnations in autumn, to mention just a few.


Spanish broom
Spanish broom
(M. Costa)


As far as vertebrates are concerned, there are 242 species, including 52 mammal species, 138 bird species, 12 reptile species, 12 amphibian species, and 28 fish species.

(M. Costa)


TRAD Consulta l'elenco degli habitat presenti nell'area:
  • Acque oligomesotrofe calcaree con vegetazione bentica di Chara spp.
  • Laghi eutrofici naturali con vegetazione del Magnopotamion o Hydrocharition
  • Fiumi alpini con vegetazione riparia legnosa a Salix eleagnos
  • Formazioni a Juniperus communis su lande o prati calcicoli
  • Matorral arborescenti di Juniperus spp.
  • Formazioni erbose rupicole calcicole o basofile dell'Alysso-Sedion albi
  • Formazioni erbose secche seminaturali e facies coperte da cespugli su substrato calcareo (Festuco-Brometalia) (stupenda fioritura di orchidee)
  • Percorsi substeppici di graminacee e piante annue dei Thero-Brachypodietea
  • Praterie con Molinia su terreni calcarei, torbosi o argilloso-limosi (Molinion caeruleae)
  • Bordure planiziali, montane e alpine di megaforbie idrofile
  • Praterie magre da fieno a bassa altitudine (Alopecurus pratensis, Sanguisorba officinalis)
  • Sorgenti pietrificanti con formazione di tufi (Cratoneurion)
  • Pareti rocciose calcaree con vegetazione casmofitica
  • Pavimenti calcarei
  • Grotte non ancora sfruttate a livello turistico
  • Foreste di versanti, ghiaioni e valloni del Tilio-Acerion
  • Boschi orientali di quercia bianca
  • Foreste alluvionali di Alnus glutinosa e Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae)
  • Boschi di Castanea sativa
  • Foreste a galleria di Salix alba e Populus alba
  • Foreste di Quercus ilex e Quercus rotundifolia

Flora (Protected species)

TRAD Consulta l'elenco della flora presente nell'area:
  • Ruscolo pungitopo (Ruscus aculeatus L)
  • Fior di legna (Limodorum abortivum)
  • Ofride fior di Api; Vesparia (Ophrys apifera Hudso)
  • Ofride di Bertoloni (Ophrys bertolonii Mor)
  • Ofride dei fuchi (Ophrys fuciflora)
  • Ofride scura (Ophrys fusca Lin)
  • Orchide cimicina (Orchis coriophora L)
  • Serapide maggiore (Serapias vomeracea)
  • Lisca minore (Typha minima Funk )
  • Bucaneve (Galanthus nivalis L)

Fauna (Protected species)

TRAD Consulta l'elenco della fauna presente nell'area:
  • Biancone (Circaetus gallicus)
  • Albanella minore (Circus pygargus)
  • Falco pecchiaiolo (Pernis apivorus)
  • Cerambice della quercia (Cerambyx cerdo)
  • Scarabeo eremita odoroso (Osmoderma eremita)
  • Rondone (Apus apus)
  • Rondone maggiore (Apus melba)
  • Succiacapre (Caprimulgus europaeus)
  • Cervo volante (Lucanus cervus)
  • Falena dell'edera (Euplagia quadripunctaria)
  • (Maculinea arion)
  • Garzetta (Egretta garzetta)
  • Nitticora (Nycticorax nycticorax)
  • Martin pescatore (Alcedo atthis)
  • Upupa (Upupa epops)
  • Gambero di fiume (Austropotamobius pallipes)
  • Cuculo (Cuculus canorus)
  • Lanario (Falco biarmicus)
  • Grillaio (Falco naumanni)
  • Falco pellegrino (Falco peregrinus)
  • Lodolaio (Falco subbuteo)
  • Falco cuculo (Falco vespertinus)
  • Quaglia (Coturnix coturnix)
  • Re di quaglie (Crex crex)
  • Calandrella (Calandrella brachydactyla)
  • Tottavilla (Lullula arborea)
  • Ortolano (Emberiza hortulana)
  • Balestruccio (Delichon urbica)
  • Rondine (Hirundo rustica)
  • Topino (Riparia riparia)
  • Averla piccola (Lanius collurio)
  • Averla cenerina (Lanius minor)
  • Averla capirossa (Lanius senator)
  • Calandro (Anthus campestris)
  • Agrion di Mercurio (Coenagrion mercuriale)
  • Prispolone (Anthus trivialis)
  • Cutrettola (Motacilla flava)
  • Balia dal collare (Ficedula albicollis)
  • Balia nera (Ficedula hypoleuca)
  • Pigliamosche (Muscicapa striata)
  • Rigogolo (Oriolus oriolus)
  • Smeralda di fiume (Oxygastra curtisii)
  • Canapino maggiore (Hippolais icterina)
  • Canapino (Hippolais polyglotta)
  • Luì bianco (Phylloscopus bonelli)
  • Luì verde (Phylloscopus sibilatrix)
  • Luì grosso (Phylloscopus trochilus)
  • Beccafico (Sylvia borin)
  • Sterpazzolina (Sylvia cantillans)
  • Sterpazzola (Sylvia communis)
  • Bigiarella (Sylvia curruca)
  • Bigia grossa (Sylvia hortensis)
  • Magnanina (Sylvia undata)
  • Usignolo (Luscinia megarhynchos)
  • Codirossone (Monticola saxatilis)
  • Passero solitario (Monticola solitarius)
  • Culbianco (Oenanthe oenanthe)
  • Codirosso (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
  • Stiaccino (Saxicola rubetra)
  • Torcicollo (Jynx torquilla)
  • Picchio rosso minore (Dendrocopos minor)
  • Gufo reale (Bubo bubo)
  • Ululone italiano (Bombina pachypus)
  • Lupo (Canis lupus)
  • (Felis silvestris lybica)
  • Puzzola (Mustela putorius)
  • Molosso di Cestoni (Tadarida teniotis)
  • Ferro di cavallo euriale (Rhinolophus euryale)
  • Raganella italiana (Hyla intermedia)
  • Ferro di cavallo maggiore (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum)
  • Ferro di cavallo minore (Rhinolophus hipposideros)
  • Serotino comune (Eptesicus serotinus)
  • Pipistrello di Savi (Hypsugo savii)
  • Miniottero (Miniopterus schreibersii)
  • Vespertilio di Bechstein (Myotis bechsteinii)
  • Vespertilio di Blyth (Myotis blythii)
  • Vespertilio di Daubenton (Myotis daubentonii)
  • Vespertilio smarginato (Myotis emarginatus)
  • Vespertilio maggiore (Myotis myotis)
  • Vespertilio mustacchino (Myotis mystacinus)
  • Vespertilio di Natterer (Myotis nattereri)
  • Nottola di Leisler (Nyctalus leisleri)
  • Nottola comune (Nyctalus noctula)
  • Pipistrello albolimbato (Pipistrellus kuhli)
  • Pipistrello nano (Pipistrellus pipistrellus)
  • Orecchione meridionale (Plecotus austriacus)
  • Istrice (Hystrix cristata)
  • Quercino (Eliomys quercinus)
  • Moscardino (Muscardinus avellanarius)
  • Cobite (Cobitis bilineata)
  • Barbo (Barbus plebejus)
  • Barbo canino (Barbus meridionalis)
  • Rana agile (Rana dalmatina)
  • Rana appenninica (Rana italica)
  • Colubro dai riccioli (Coronella girondica)
  • Saettone (Elaphe longissima)
  • Lucertola muraiola (Podarcis muralis)
  • Lucertola campestre (Podarcis sicula)
  • Luscengola (Chalcides chalcides)
  • Testuggine d'acqua (Emys orbicularis)
  • Geotritone italiano (Speleomantes italicus)
  • Salamandra pezzata (Salamandra salamandra)
  • Tritone crestato italiano (Triturus carnifex)
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