Explore the places of interest

Natural Reserve of Alpe della Luna

A treasure trove of natural wonders in a wild and pure environment

Dense beechwoods, breathtaking scenery crossed by waterfalls and naturally formed rock pools.

Valtiberina Toscana territorio Badia Tedalda
riserva della luna badia tedalda escursioni

Alpe della Luna Natural Reserve

A stunning natural environment with dense beechwoods, breathtaking scenery crossed by waterfalls and naturally formed rock pools. The Alpe della Luna Nature Reserve boasts many natural treasures in a totally intact and wild environment , reachable only through winding forest paths. These magical lands, hold sites of ancient and mysterious tales, also inspired the art of Piero della Francesca, born in nearby Sansepolcro.
Alpe della Luna Natural Reserve is stretched across an area of 1,500 hectares between the municipalities of Badia Tedalda, Pieve Santo Stefano and Sansepolcro, and represents the watershed between the Upper Tiber Valley in the Tyrrhenian side and the Marecchia Valley in the Adriatic side.

La Ripa della Luna

Undoubtedly, the most spectacular and fascinating place is the Ripa della Luna, a 200-metre-high rocky wall in the shape of a lunar scythe on the northern slope of Monte dei Frati, the highest in the reserve at 1453 metres. It seems that the Natural Reserve took its name from this “lunar” shaped rock, or from its own legend, or maybe from the very ancient rites aimed at the moon that took place right here. 
The geology of the Alpe della Luna is similar to that of many mountains in this part of the Apennines, such as the Monte Nero’s in the homonymous Reserve. Responsible for these analogies is a common geological history, given by the Marnoso Arenacea Formation, characterised by alternating layers of sandstone, marl and shale, as can be seen in the Ripa della Luna.

Specchio della luna riserva naturale alpe della luna badia tedalda

Flora e Fauna

At high altitudes there are beech forests, while lower you can find oak woods, hornbeam and mixed woods, characterised by a particular wealth of rare species. The main tree species are mountain maple, curly maple, Italian lime, ash, mountain elm and badger. The prairies instead host a rich population of orchids, which make them one of the priority habitats for the European Community. 

Here you can meet a wide range of wild animals: wild boars, roe deer, squirrels, deer, porcupines, badgers, wolves, foxes, hares, skunks, and birds such as woodpeckers, pigeons, owls, thrushes, tits, jays and raptors such as buzzards, sparrow hawks, goshawks, the lodolaio and also specimens of golden eagle.

L’Acqua

One of the most important elements that characterise the whole Alpe della Luna and Badia Tedalda territory is the presence of water, in all its forms: fresh water springs, streams, ditches and waterfalls (Presalino, Ripa dell’Antella and Gorgoscura County). In fact, from the high ridges of our mountains arise three important rivers: the Marecchia river (M. della Zucca –  1263 m asl), the Metauro river (M. Maggiore – 1384 masl) and the Foglia river (M. Sovara – 1003 masl).
The Presalino stream originates from the northern slopes of the Alpe della Luna and at its confluence with the Presale River, the evocative and similarly named waterfall is born - the Presalino Waterfall. Located approximately 1.5 kilometres from the town centre of Badia Tedalda, you can stop and enjoy a lovely day in the midst of nature, thanks to the fully equipped tourist area near the waterfall, perfect for organising picnics with your friends and family!
While the Presalino Waterfall is not part of the Natural Reserve area, it remains an important reference for it: in fact, it constitutes the “gateway” from the northern side, thanks to a trail from here that allows you to reach the ridges of the Alpe della Luna.

The rare treasures of the Alpe della Luna

A totally intact nature to admire

The Alpe della Luna Thistle

Cirsium alpis-lunae

This species has been known only since 1991, when it was first identified on the Alpe della Luna. Its appearance is similar to that of a thistle, with prickly leaves and a compound flower made up of many small flowers united in a flower head. It is a plant that lives exclusively on landslide slopes and rocky debris, which also explains its isolation and rarity. Almost all specimens of this Cardoon, in fact, are confined to the ridge of the Alpe della Luna, but a smaller stand has been reported within the Alta Valle del Tevere – Monte Nero Nature Reserve. The preservation of the Alpe della Luna Thistle is necessary to prevent the extinction of the species.

Ophrys bertoloni riserva naturale alpe della luna

Spontaneous orchids

of Badia Tedalda

The vast and unspoiled territory of the municipality of Badia Tedalda, hosts a rich biodiversity; the knowledge of the variety and distribution of plant species, represents a relevant factor of botanical richnessand a special commitment to the concrete protection, conservation and preservation of this natural heritage.. In this sense goes our special attention to what is the universe of spontaneous orchids.
This is how in 2015 was born the collaboration with Professor Loris Bagli, one of the leading experts in the field of wild orchids.Thanks to the mutual commitment, we decided to dedicate an entire Sunday to our orchids every year, generally between the end of May and the beginning of June; during the day we take small hikes in the Alpe della Luna territory to discover and observe the wonderful orchid specimens and the natural environments in which they are distributed. A special day to promote knowledge, attention and care towards our fascinating and unique natural heritage.

The Wolf

Canis lupus

The wolf is a carnivorous mammal, part of the canid family, whose physical structure and social behaviour are the result of adaptation to hunting large wild prey such as ungulates. The herd is a complex social structure, where individuals move, hunt, feed, and live together. Each herd occupies its own territory, demarcating it with visual-olfactory and acoustic markings, such as howling. In natural ecosystems, the role of the wolf is critical in maintaining a proper balance in herbivore populations.
The main risk cause for the species, beside illegal killing and accidental impact with motor vehicles, is detected genetic pollution due to mating with dogs, from which hybrids in turn fecund originate. Conflicts with livestock activity are being rekindled in some areas due to the wolf population increase and require effective campaigns for damage prevention and compensation, control of stray dogs, but also and mainly education and awareness of the conservation issues of this predator, which is considered a priority protection species of the European Union.

rosalia alpina riserva naturale alpe della luna

The Alpine Rosalia

It is part of the Cerambycidae family and is a beetle unmistakable for its beautiful blue color with black spots; 20 to 38 mm long, it has its ideal habitat in old beech forests, where the larva lives for about three years in the rotting wood of dead trunks, then emerges as an adult in summer. Adults are characterised by long antennae that in the male even exceed the length of the body. Rosalia Alpina has a very sporadic distribution in Tuscany and is a species of regional and community conservation priority concern, throughout the European Union. The greatest risk to this species comes from the cutting of large trees and forest “clearing” operations.

The ancient legend of the Mountain of the Moon

“When the Moon seems to rest on the Mountain side, if only someone could reach out and touch it, all of their wishes would come true.”

In the Early Middle Ages, the young Count Manfredi di Montedoglio met and fell hopelessly in love with the beautiful Rosalia, beloved daughter of the Lord of Colcellalto’s. But their love affair was hampered by the Montedoglio family, which could not accept their son marrying a woman who belonged to a lesser rank. However, with the excuse of visiting the possession of Badia Tedalda, Manfredi often went to Colcellalto to see his sweetheart.

During the nights of a full moon, the young lovers – like all the lovers do – used to whisper words of love to each other from the balcony. Rosalia used to say “You know, Sir, when the Moon appears to rest on the side of the Mountain, if only someone could touch it, all of their wishes would come true. Furthermore, our forefathers tell, the Mountain hides huge treasures. But no one ever got to touch the Moon and take the treasures. many have tried but they never return, because the Mountain belongs to the Moon and she kills anyone who tries to get too close.”

It was a cold May morning, when the brave Manfredi decided to leave to reach the Mountain: he wanted to touch the Moon and steal the hidden treasures; Rosalia, not wanting to be left behind and just as fearless as her lover, decided to go with him, at any cost. The two horses were saddled and the couple left at a gallop, chasing the Mountain and its Moon. They were never to be seen again.

Legend says that charcoal makers and woodsmen, on full moon nights, used to hear the gallop of two horses and to see two shadows, one next to each other, with their hands pointing skyward, desperately trying to touch the Moon.

Main natural and historical itineraries

Step into the history and wild nature of the Appennines.