The Poggio Castiglione ring route: an old mining railway in the Ritasso torrent gorge
The route is part of the “7 Sentieri Natura delle Riserve Naturali” (7 Nature Trails of the Nature Reserves) and it also features a guidebook with marked and numbered waypoints along the way.
The start of the route coincides with a picnic area in the Reserve.
We recommend avoiding it immediately after heavy rain because there are many fords near it.
This is the most spectacular route to discover the important minerals of Val di Sterza and to learn about the mining history of this portion of the Metalliferous Hills. Initially immersed in the ecosystems of the Sterza and Ritasso, it follows a 19th-century railway track created to transport minerals from Villetta Station, the terminus of a rich lignite mine, to Casino di Terra.
Along the route there are trenches dug into the serpentine rock and spectacular stone bridges. These are evocative places, set in highly natural environments, with garrigues, rocky thickets and rare flora. After the branch-off that leads to the Villetta basin and the “steccaia” (protective pilework) on the Ritasso, the trail climbs towards Poggio Castiglione, where magnesite, dolomite, quartz and chalcedony minerals and traces of their past exploitation can be found. In the final section, the high scrub gives way to a beautiful tall oak wood with plentiful traces of its denizens: wild boar, roe deer and fallow deer.