The waters of the Acquacheta hurl down a 70-meter drop, sliding rapidly down on the rock and at times throwing off the protruding arenaceous rocks.
In the plateau situated upstream the waterfall and originating from an ancient lake which silted up, there is the village of the Romiti, which was built on the ruins of the hermitage of the monastery of San Benedetto in Alpe. Here Dante found a shelter during his exile from Florence (in the XVI canto of the Inferno you can read a famous description of the waterfall).
In the San Benedetto - Aquacheta waterfall stretch there is now a nature trail called "La valle e la cascata di Dante" with the following features:
This small village preserves a beautiful example of a humpbacked bridge which served an ancient palace, nowadays a hotel. In Ridracoli there is "Idro Museo delle Acque di Ridracoli", managed by Atlantide. Following the valley upwards, you can see on a summit the ruins of a
medieval castle, and further on you can reach the imposing dam,
completed in 1982 to provide energy and water to the Municipalities of
Today the system is managed by "Romagna Acque". The basin of the dam, which flooded three small valleys, is framed by steep slopes carved by a number of little valleys, where arenaceous outcrops alternate with strips of land covered by trees.
It was built after the year 1000 as a hostel in order to replace the castle of Fontebuona owned by the count Maldolo, and it later became the monastery of the Camaldoli monks. In the 16th century there was a printing house in it, where the "Costituzioni Camaldolesi" establishing the rules of the forest management were printed. The cloisters and the Church of St. Donnino and Ilariano, with their beautiful paintings by Vasari, are wonderful works of art. On one side of the monastery there is the ancient chemist's shop with alembics, mortars, stoves, and precious manuscripts coming from the galenical laboratory of the monks.
In the surroundings there is now a nature trail called "Alberi e bosco" with the following features:
Situated in a defensive place on the steep southern wall of Mt. Penna,
the famous Franciscan sanctuary has always been a destination for
pilgrims: it lies within a silent and gloomy wood where the Saint spent
most of his hermit's life. The calcareous nature of the mountain shaped
its harsh morphology, characterized by a number of ravines and natural
cavities opening up under the shadow of majestic maples, ashes, elms,
and beeches. Some particularly suggestive places were chosen by the
Saint and by the monks for their prayers.
The mountain was given to St. Francis in 1213 by the Casentinese count Orlando Cattani, who is today buried in the small church of Santa Maria degli Angeli whose building he supported. In September 1224, the miracle of the stigmata took place at the Verna. The event was recalled by Dante in the Paradiso and is still commemorated in a solemn festivity.
The 18th century grand-ducal palace, which has been transformed into a hotel, was till the last century the hunting residence of the Lorena family. The head office of the local forest station, as in Camaldoli and Badia Prataglia, houses a small naturalistic museum open on request. Not far from it, a columnar stump of silver fir lies on the ground as an evidence of the majesty and the great value that the Campigna Forest had in the past.
In the surroundings there is now a nature trail called "L'abete bianco e le abetine" with the following features:
The Apennine ridge, gradually rising from the East, is the main
mountain group in the Park. One of the most suggestive paths to get to
the top is the one leaving from the small and typical village of
Castagno d'Andrea. Along the southern slopes of Mt. Falterona, at 1,358m, there is a rich spring called Capo d'Arno: here the main watercourse
of Tuscany has its origins.
Eastwards there is a slightly grassy depression called Lago degli Idoli, a remarkable archaeological site where a number of Etruscan statuettes have been found.