Monte Rufeno Nature Reserve
At the very northern part of the Lazio region (central Italy, 120 km north of Rome), stands the Monte Rufeno Nature Reserve, that was established in 1983 and safeguards wide woods in a gentle, hilly landscape crossed by the Paglia river. About 3,000 hectares of protected area are dominated by mixed oak woods, Mediterranean maquis, reforestations with conifers, some rare fields, ancient olive groves and wetland vegetation close to the river banks.
At the border between Lazio, Umbria and Tuscany, the Reserve, thanks to it particular geographical position and to local historical events, houses very rich flora and fauna characterized by several rare species.
Many typical stone farmsteads are scattered in the woods, buildings that have been restored with didactic and tourist aims; moreover, the area is rich in streams, ponds, and springs which favor not only pleasant excursions, but also the presence of flora and fauna exclusive of these places.
Several facilities for cultural development, environmental education, leisure and interpretation are included within protected area, such as a Museum of Flowers, a House of Rural Traditions, an Astronomical Observatory, a Didactic Water Mill, together with some comfortable facilities for tourist accommodation.
At the southern border of Nature Reserve stands the beautiful Sasseto Wood, a reservoir of biodiversity including hundreds of century-old trees that represent a wide variety of species ranging from holm-oaks to lime-trees, from maples to beeches.
Due to its intense activity supporting sustainable tourism and thanks to a five-year action plan that involves a “forum” made of 18 different local stakeholders, in year 2012 Monte Rufeno Nature Reserve has been awarded by the Europarc Federation with the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas (ECST).