The discovery of Longobard burial sites going back to the high Middle Ages is evidence of the presence of that people in the territory of Collecchio, but even stronger at that time was the religious organisation confirmed by the presence of two important ‘Pieve’ or Parish Churches: the Church of St. Prosper of Collecchio and the Pieve di Madregolo were hospices (xenodochi) for pilgrims and served the route which led to Luni and Rome called the road of “Monte Bardone” and later the Strada Romea or Via Franchigena.
The Taro River Park covers about 2.600 hectars, bounded by the towns of Collecchio, Parma, Medesano and Noceto. The park is a strip of land running along the river for 20 kms, in a landscape of plains, hills and alluvial terraces. This area is an important stopping place along a bird migration route, where more than 200 species have been observed and registered. Rare birds such as terns, several species of ducks, stone plovers and night herons build their nests here, making it the ideal spot for birdwatching.
Vegetation is also very interesting, as along the banks of the river grow different species of willows and poplars, while in the grass stands a real botanical rarity: the Coriaria myrtifolia.
The Park can be visited on foot or by mountain bike. Motorvehicles are not allowed.
THE TARO RIVER PARK– Regional Park
Surface: 3.122 hectares
Height: da 56 a 185 metri s.l.m.
Inside the park the Naturalistic Area Le Chiesuole open on Saturdays and Sundays from 9.00am to 12.00noon and from 3.00pm to 6.00pm, entrance fee euro 1.00; other days on reservation for groups and school. At the Visitors centre it’s possible to rent mountain bikes and bikes for kids from April to July and in September and October on Sunday afternoon. The cost is euros 3,00 for half a day.
How to get there: from motorway A1 Milano – Bologna, exit Parma. Follow the state road SS62 leading to Collecchio, south of Parma, where you can take several roads following the directions Ponte Scodogna, Gaiano, Ozzano and Riccò, on the right side of Taro river. From motorway A15 Parma – La Spezia, exit Parma Ovest or Fornovo and then follow the state road to Collecchio. From the Via Emilia, take state road SS 357 leading to the left side of Taro river, crossing Noceto, Medesano and Felegara. In the nearby are also two natural reserves: Monte Prinzera and Boschi di Carrega.
The first regional park, the Carrega woodlands cover 1.270 hectars with a spontaneous vegetation of oaks, chestnut trees, pines, spruces and beeches. The woodlands are sporadically broken up by little streams, small lakes and meadows. Because of its variety of habitats, the park hosts a rich animal life including both plain and Appennine species. The park can only be visited on foot or by mountain bike.
The ideal surrounding for birdwatching, the park is crossed by educational paths such as the Bosco di Lilliput, a kid friendly little wood on two levels made up of panels and patterns, where children can discover and explore nature. It is housed in the Levati Visitors Centre in Sala Baganza, where all the teaching activities take place.
It is also possible to visit the Officinal Garden housing 33 species of medicinal and aromatic herbs, the Garden of Birds, a didactical area with three shelters for birdwatching in a garden full of frugiferous trees and the weather station. Visitors can also book guided tour by coach to discover the history and the nature of the park. Worth a visit is also the Forest nursery Scodogna.
And to have some rest, the Barchessa, an old annexe, has been transformed into a pic-nic area and a space for educational activities.
CARREGA WOODLANDS – Regional Park
Surface: 1.270 hectares
Height: da 110 a 470 metri s.l.m.
How to get there: by car, from motorway A1, exit Parma Ovest or from motorway A15, exit Fornovo Taro and the state road 62 to Collecchio. From Parma, state road SS 62 direction south to Collecchio and Sala Baganza, then follow signs to the park. By bus Tep line Parma – Sala Baganza. Get off in Sala Baganza then walk for 2 kms following signs to the park. Large car parks are available near the main entrances of the park: the Serraglio parking at the entrance located in Collecchio (via del Conventino), Case Nuove parking at the entrance in Sala Baganza, /(via Olma) and a parking next to the Visitors Centre Levati in Sala Baganza (via Olma).