The Stirone is a stream characterized by fossil remains from an ancient sea. The park is comprised of 10 separate zones, scattered across the Apennine ridge between the provinces of Parma and Piacenza and it protects outcrops of significant geo-paleontological importance acknowledged internationally, as well as two Sites of Community Importance (S.C.I.) within the Natura 2000 Network. The protected areas relate to three key morphological features: the river landscape, the hill area and the agricultural landscape.
The stony bed of the stream provides a habitat for typical pioneer grasses (Italian cocklebur, hemp-agrimony) while along the shores, prone to occasional flooding, and in the transitional area between there and the steeper banks, we find shrubs like purple willow and olive willow, whose flexible trunks can withstand the battering of the stream in spate.
In the lush maze of riparian woodlands, various hygrophilous tree species thrive, including white willow and poplar (black and white), then, moving away from the water, these gradually give way to an oak wood. The undergrowth reveals rare flowers, such as dogtooth violet and burning bush, while the nearby wild meadowlands are the perfect habitat for wood pink and several species of orchid. The park also boasts a rich variety of fauna, with roe deer, squirrels, hedgehogs, badgers, foxes, crested porcupines, sparrowhawks, buzzards, little owls, golden orioles, woodpeckers, scops owls and, along the river channel, common kingfishers and European bee-eaters, which nest in the steep sandy banks or nearby areas.
In addition to the MuMAB – Ancient Sea and Biodiversity Museum, the park and the surrounding area also feature sites of great natural and environmental value, geo-paleontological sites, and areas of outstanding interest in terms of landscape, history and architecture.
The Stirone River Park offers a number of equipped pedestrian routes plus the “Ciclovia dello Stirone” cycle path. In Fidenza, as at “Le Cascatelle” and “La Bocca” there are tables and benches, plus car parking and picnic areas with “barbecue” facilities and potable water.
The protected area extends for almost 15 km along the river between Parma and Piacenza including a 2400 hectares area. There are two entries to reach the park from Salsomaggiore: San Nicomede – take the main road from Salsomaggiore to Fidenza and at 1,5 km turn left in direction of San Nicomede. Scipione – from the city centre take Via Valentini and then Via Porro and go ahead to Scipione.
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