A few minutes by road from Rivalta, proceeding in the direction of Travo, is the delightful resort of Croara, an age-old deciduous forest nestling on the hills of the Trebbia Valley.
Name may derive from “Crovara”, place full of crows, or in the memory of the Roman patrician M. Corvinus Corvolaria.
From a naturalistic point of view it is one of the last examples of Plain Forest, the environment that once dominated the entire Po Valley. For this reason it has been included in the protected area by the Trebbia Park .
In recent years it has become popular meta for groups of hikers and lovers of mountain bike.
The events involving Hannibal and Tiberio Sempronio Longo in the famous Battle of Trebbia include a little-known episode that took place near Croara.
It seems that the great carthaginian leader had personally chosen the woods on the foothills to the valley to camp his army and wait for the advance of the roman troops in the shelter of thick vegetation.
At dawn on December 18th in 218 B.C. he ordered that all men were refreshed in the heat of the fires and greasy oil to resist the cold, rain and stiffening of the muscles.
Only when it was announced that Romans had crossed the river to attack he was given orders to go down to the underlying marshy plans and to begin the battle.
This tactic and the wise choice of the Carthaginian field allowed a crushing victory on the enemy, which, however, is not performed up to Piacenza and annihilated.
Hannibal had again repaired his in the depths of the forest, aware that the long advance towards Rome and the difficulties of winter were just beginning.
The extraordinary work of deforestation and draining of the marshes
implemented by the Romans to enslave and modernize the rebel provinces like Piacenza stopped with the empire fall.
The rapid decrease in population size, social upheaval, looting and loss of knowledge caused the barbarian invasions led to the abandonment of large agricultural estates, reason why the forest took over most of the Po Valley.
Only since the year 1000 would recover to break down the forests to procure timber and to obtain more arable areas, but the look of the Croara Woods remained unchanged since then.
The hills behind Croara, between the Trebbia River and Luretta Valley , have always been a secure refuge for local people and strategic location for outposts, forts and watchtowers of various lordships rulers.
The narrow and short shape of Luretta Valley in particular has had a primary importance in actions of Resistance at the end of World War II.
Many memorials and monuments testify the period when the partisans of the area escaped the big roundups dispersing along the network of trails and paths that connects the mountains of the area.
Deserters, Jews, politically persecuted, allied prisoners were able in this way to escape the incursions of the nazi-fascists, though no lack of dramatic episodes including the famous Battle at the Monticello Castle.*
* Further reading “The Resistance in Luretta Valley” by the journalist, historian and partisan Angelo Del Boca.
Croara Woods are included in Park Area because constitute a valuable record of the type of habitat that once dominated the entire region:the Plane Forest.*
Located at the foot of the first hills of Piacenza, about 200 m. above sea level, it covers one hundred hectares of ancient terraces formed by the action of the Trebbia deposit.
At the heart of the forest, in the area of rainwater convoy, it borns Rio Colombara, channel that feeds the moat of the medieval Rivalta’s Castle and it still touches the perimeter walls.
* These environmental conditions have been preserved intact until today thanks to the clear desire of the owners, who were using the internal clearings for grazing cattle breed Limousine.
The Croara area has a good variety of arboreal species: Oaks, Cerri, Farnie, Roverelle, Carpini and alternate with Ash, Cherry, Maple trees, Azelnuts, Chestnuts.
In the underwood there are protected species such as some varieties of Lilies and several types of Orchidis, but is the presence of Holly to constitue the real rarity.
Typical of pine and oak forests of the Mediterranean, it is in fact a presence now disappeared from below Emilian Apennines.
From a wildlife point of view in Croara we can speak of a real natural refuge.
Roe deers, foxes, wild boars, squirrels, voles, Hedgehogs, Dormice, Small, diurnal and nocturnal birds of prey and many kinds of insects and spiders found here away from noise and environmental pollution on man action.*
*It’s important to remember that in the entire park area is avoid both hunting and fishing. Beyond that it’s prevents access to motor vehicles so as not to disturb the fauna and to avoid damage to nests, dens and delicate floral species.
The “Croara Terrace” is constituted by a set of sounds incised by the erosive action of the Trebbia, among the oldest examples of the entire region.
The typical yellow-orange or reddish-brown colors testify the fluvial origin of slightly sandy soil on which stands the vegetation.
As regards the rocky conformations, here as in the rest of the valley Ophiolite, Sandstone and Granite
form cobblestone that break very easily.
Still little known, Croara Woods offer pleasant walks and short excursions to suit everyone.*
The easiest access is continuing beyond the village of Rivalta, along the “old state road 45” that within a few kilometers leads to the nearby town of Travo.
At sign “Bellaria di Rivalta-Buriacchina” go up towards the first hill of the Trebbia Valley, immediately after you turn left following the sign “Buriacchina-Pastoria” and at the end of the straight, in a prestigious area of villas and summer residences you will reach the entrance of the main path.
This runs along the central canal (Rio Colombara) to the foothills of Kings Field and Paradis, which enjoys an excellent view of the Rivergaro village and the vast riverbed of the Trebbia, just below.
* The approximately 4 km of trail you ride in an hour, an hour and a half. The absence of water sources and trail signs as well as the possible presence of mud in the winter months require adequate preparation, clothing and shoes.
The mountain bikers found in Croara Woods a training path easy and not far from the city.
The approach to the forest can be done throug country roads, with no traffic, or even unpaved, or through the network of paths of the underlying Fluvial Park.*
The two paths of the woods unfortunately are not yet reported; although this does not you will come across challenging points, it is shaded from the sun and weather and you can enjoy a peaceful and relaxing environment for everyone.**
* The recommended access point is the same dedicated to hikers
** The absence of water sources and trail signs as well as the possible presence of mud in the winter months require adequate preparation and a good bicycle.
On the opposite side of the old national road, the Old Croara Farm organizes trips on horseback along the placid shores of the river and the dark depths of the forest.
Seasonal groups of adults and children staying in Bed and Breakfast of the former convent and go up to the mountain riding the horses of the equestrian center near the Trebbia.
The prestigious Croara Country Club consists of a great eighteenth-century villa with restaurant, pool and tennis courts, as well as from the famous park of oak trees in the wooded area and above the course of the Trebbia river.
Here is the historical the golf course with 18 holes; they can access both affiliated members and outsiders eager to rent the necessary equipment and try to practice this sport.