Would you like to regenerate in nature and discover its secrets? Take a look at these 5 unmissable woods selected for you!
There is no doubt that contact with nature is good for the body and soul, and in Italy there are many places where you can regenerate and relax: the woods. With around 2 million hectares of wooded areas, the peninsula is home to a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna, with beech, chestnut, turkey oak, and spruce forests dominating.
There are some woods in Italy where trees are not just simple shrubs but monuments with a story to tell. Places with a magical and dreamlike atmosphere where you will be overwhelmed by the wonders of nature and also by the stories they evoke, with myths and legends intertwined with history and spirituality.
For an unforgettable fairytale experience with fairies and goblins showing you the way to a fantasy world, then read on to find out which woods in Italy are not to be missed. Ready to dream?
5. Apulia: Umbra Forest's woods
Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017, the thousand-year-old Umbra Forest is located about 800 m above sea level in the Gargano National Park in the province of Foggia. If you are looking for a green oasis and coolness during the hot summer days, this is the ideal place. Here you will find woods with dense vegetation consisting mainly of beech trees that grow at a lower altitude than average due to the particular climatic conditions of the area. In the wood you can admire and contemplate the majesty of the centuries-old trees, or inebriate yourself with the scent of 85 species of wild orchids. Their vivid colours mix and blend with the surrounding greenery harmoniously, giving you strong sensory emotions.
Among the 15 beautiful paths that branch out across the area, we recommend the charming "Umbra-Mare" road that will lead you straight to the sea at Vieste. Be very careful on your way because you may come across rare species of animals such as fallow deer or wildcats and perhaps spot an eagle owl or a hawk. You will also get to know the King of the Forest, one of the most beautiful and fascinating trees in the forest, called the Millacero. People say that Jupiter transformed the beautiful Forest Nymph, Gargara, into a maple tree. Gargara not only opposed the wishes of the God, but also those of an ordinary mortal. For this reason, Jupiter, in a rage of rejection and at the insistence of man, turned the Nymph into a maple tree.
4. Veneto and Friuli: Bosco del Cansiglio
Between Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia lies a wood that will fascinate you for its nature, history and legend. That is the Bosco del Cansiglio or Bosco del Reme, an extraordinary place that extends over the Cansiglio Plateau and considered Italy's natural heritage. You will be left speechless, especially during the autumn foliage where you will be overwhelmed by the explosion of colours and shades. Here you can take easy walks, go on more active excursions or simply contemplate the numerous species of trees in the area. You will realise that the main protagonists of the wood are the beeches, which stand so majestically that they seem to be the guardians of the place.
Their importance is also rooted in history, the ancient Crimbi population settled here thanks to beech wood processing, with traces of their passage still visible. We recommend the Crimbi Trail which will take you back in time and through some of their villages surrounded by extraordinary scenery. Also, the same wood was also used in the Middle Ages for the construction of the oars of Venice’s gondolas and galleys, hence the name Bosco del Reme.
If, on the other hand, you are a fan of mythology and legends, then the Anguane Fairies are for you. It is said that they were evil sirens who kidnapped children near the Santa Croce lake and then sadly burnt them in this place now known as Buco della Luce, a mysterious and macabre place that can still be visited today with a nice walk.
3. Piedmont: Gran Bosco del Salbertrand
White and red firs extend over an area of more than seven hundred hectares, forming the beautiful Gran Bosco del Salbertrand, a corner of wild and voluptuous nature in the Cottian Alps of Piedmont, a few kilometres away from Turin. You will be amazed by the beauty and peculiarity of this place, with a rich and unique flora and fauna thanks to the particular microclimate of the Western Alps. In addition to the rare specimens of fir trees, your walks will be coloured by the magic of meeting deer or chamois, owls and eagles, squirrels and over 70 species of birds. But beware, since 1997 the wolf has also reappeared in the forest!
The Gran Bosco del Salbertrand Park, established in 1980 to protect the vegetation, has now become a hiker's paradise with a total of 14 possible paths to be followed on foot, by bike or with snowshoes. The unmissable routes are the famous Via Francigena and the exciting Sentiero dei Franchi. The latter was walked by Charle Magne and his army who crossed the mountain to surround the enemy Lombard troops. Along the way you will witness an amazing and unparalleled nature that will enrich you inside and out.
2. Tuscany: Bosco della Verna
In the Tuscan Apennines, in the province of Arezzo, there is a magical place where nature and spirituality come together. It is the Bosco Della Verna, located near the Franciscan Sanctuary on Monte Penna where Saint Francis received the stigmata. A forest with a labyrinth-like terrain and a wild and shady nature. Here you will not only be enchanted by the thousand-year-old trees with their roots entwined in the ground or the imposing rocks with wide cracks similar to caves, but also by its mysterious and controversial history.
For a long time, Bosco Della Verna was considered a dangerous and evil place where bandits and thieves used it as a hiding place. In fact, the wood owes its name to the goddess Laverna, considered the protector of thieves since Etruscan times. But in 1200 Count Orlando radically changed the history of this cursed place by calling Saint Francis of Assisi to spread his word. He managed to drive out the evil with a small community of Benedictine monks living there as hermits, transforming the wood into a sacred place of worship, gradually attracting thousands of pilgrims from all over Italy.
Among the various routes, we recommend the evocative ancient road that leads to the Sanctuary starting from the village of Chiusi di La Verna. On this route you will pass through the wood where you can feel yourself the mysticism and sacredness of the place, and eventually reaching the Sanctuary's forecourt where you can enjoy one of Tuscany's most exciting landscapes.
1. Lazio: Snow White's Wood
In the region of Lazio there is a truly fairytale place, Bosco del Sasseto, near Viterbo, nicknamed "Snow White's Wood" by National Geographic. In fact, Snow White and the seven dwarfs will guide you into another world. Centuries-old trees with twisted trunks almost resembling immobilised fantasy characters, lava rocks covered in moss and lichen spread here and there, mushrooms sprouting up all over the place, all in perfect harmony with the rich and luxuriant vegetation. Tangled and silent paths will let you admire more than 30 species of trees 25 metres high and over one metre wide, some of them laying untouched on the ground, serving as a home for insects, amphibians, or small reptiles.
To make things even more special and surreal is the presence of a Gothic-style mausoleum with a ghostly aura. This is the burial place of Marquis Edoardo Cahen, who once owned the wood and the nearby Torre Alfina. It was he who decided to leave this place unspoilt and untouched by man, laying out only paths to guide visitors in the fantastic world of nature. It is no coincidence that the wood is part of the 20 enchanted places in Italy and is considered a Natural Monument of the Lazio Region.