Welcome to Verona’s mountains, welcome to Lessinia! Even Verona can boast some mountains, in the form of the stunning Lessinia natural park to the north of the city. This verdant paradise is bordered by the Piccole Dolomiti range, the city of Verona and Monte Baldo. Its summits generally top out at between 1,500 and 1,800 metres high whilst, to the west, the Carega range reaches more than 2,200 metres.
Lessinia, where people have lived since ancient times
Lessinia is an area which has been inhabited since the dawn of time, thanks in part to the abundance of flint and the presence of caves offering shelter. The oldest finds date back to the Lower Paleolithic era, more than two million years ago, in places like the Riparo Soman cave, the Ponte Veja bridge and the Grotta di Fumane cavern. The latter, also known as the Riparo Solinas, is one of Europe’s most important prehistoric archaeological sites, with a wealth of finds preserved below the surface. It has been invaluable for documenting the great biological and cultural changes in human history which occurred around 40,000 years ago, with evidence of the presence of Neanderthal Man and early Homo Sapiens.
The Ponte Veja, on the other hand, seems to have once been the entrance arch to an enormous cavern, carved out of the limestone rock by water erosion. The park is in the northern part of Lessinia and includes sinkholes, caves and natural bridges, with many sites of scientific interest: a real treasure of nature, with an abundance of fossil deposits such as those in Bolca-Pesciara and Monte Postale. They contain the remains of species of plants and animals which lived in the lagoons and oceans that once covered this region. To learn more, visit the fossil museum in Bolca.
The Places of the Great War
This area also contains many significant sites from World War One, such as trenches, tunnels and military roads, as well as wonders of nature in the form of the Folignani, Giazza and Valdadige forests and Molina waterfalls. Lessinia is the perfect place to go for a walk or to ride a horse or bike, with plenty of places to stop off along the way such as the dairies dotted across the mountains where you can learn about the ancient art of cheesemaking. And of course, you can also refuel with a delicious plate of gnocchi, traditionally served with cheese from the dairy.
A local speciality that you have to try! This region’s traditional food is closely linked to these dairies and is some of the best in the whole province.
The Cimbri People
There are several museums in Lessinia dedicated to the history of its people, as well as prehistory, archaeology and the natural environment. One curiosity of this region is the Cimbri people. The Cimbri were a people originally from Bavaria who arrived in Lessinia around the end of the 13th century. Cimbran settlements can also be found in several other rural regions to the north of here. If you want to learn more about their ancient culture, Lessinia is the place to come. The best period for a visit to this wonderful corner of Verona province is definitely spring and summer. At this time of year, you can appreciate the beauty of the landscape and its rich colours. Here, nature and ancient traditions go hand-in-hand, making Lessinia a special place. You will find something more in woods than in books.
Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters. (Saint Bernard)