Holiday ideas

Make it a 'green' Easter

Fresh air, healthy natural food and the thrill of discovering new places. For your Easter holidays, we’ve selected some truly outstanding destinations within easy reach -  Lombardy, Veneto, Umbria and Lazio - where verdant green landscapes compliment the holiday spirit.

  • Lombardy and Veneto
  • Umbria and Lazio
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Each year a growing number of Italians choose an agriturismo for Easter Sunday lunch or Monday’s Pasquetta. There are many reasons behind this, all of them good ones! The desire to eat genuine food in a wholesome and peaceful environment, an excuse to get out of the city and enjoy the first warm days of spring, the reasonable prices, and, of course, a post-feast walk immersed in nature.

The word “agriturismo” conjures up images of meadows and woodland, vineyards and olive trees, mountains and rivers, and even the beach… It also signifies hidden treasures, like wild orchids just a few miles from Rome, Amazonian butterflies in the heart of the Euganean Hills, foxes, roe deer and birds of prey just a stone’s throw from Milan, and an Umbrian woodland that still echoes the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi.

In Lombardy: the Bosco di Vanzago forest

A former hunting reserve, the Bosco di Vanzago forest was bequeathed to the WWF “so that it can be transformed from a place of death into a protected area, a possible destination for sightseeing and place of study and research”. Located just outside Milan, the reserve is a precious resource where nature is studied and safeguarded for everyone to enjoy.

With its tranquil setting and rich calendar of activities, Bosco di Vanzago makes the perfect escape from urban life over the Easter holiday. Wild meadows alternate with organically cultivated fields, dense woods, lakes, oxbows and giant bushes - all natural elements of the Po Valley. The forest, which is the most important ecosystem in the park, is composed of English and Sessile oaks (some are centuries-old), chestnut trees, birches, hornbeams, maples, black locust trees and dense undergrowth.

 

On the lake shores and in the wetlands, hygrophilous species thrive, such as the white willow, pussy willow, poplar, alder and marsh reed. Bosco di Vanzago’s habitats are home to numerous animal species. In addition to roe deer - the symbol of the reserve - other wild critters include hares, martens, badgers, foxes and hedgehogs. 

In Veneto: the Butterfly House and the Fairy Woods in Montegrotto Terme

If you’re looking for a truly magical place to visit over Easter that’s bound to stir children’s curiosity and imagination, you’ll find it at the Butterfly House and the Fairy Woods in the heart of Veneto’s Euganean hills.

In three separate exotic gardens (Amazonian or neotropical, Afro-tropical and Indo-Australian), more than 400 of the world’s most beautiful butterflies flit freely. Graceful Paper Kite butterflies, large black and white creatures; bright Amazonian Morpho butterflies in iridescent hues of blue; amazingly colorful Ornithoptera butterflies, the largest in the world; and that’s just the beginning!

Specimens can be observed at different stages of growth, from egg to caterpillar, chrysalis to butterfly, and interactive workshops offer children the opportunity to discover the amazing world of insects up close.

Out in the enchanting woods, nature mixes with fantasy at the Fairy Woods park. Extending over 6000 square meters, the park encompasses the Hill of the Fairies, the Sacred Garden of the Druids and ancient Labyrinth of Stones, and is inhabited by magical beings of Venetian popular tradition such as orcs, the Anguane sirens, elves, fairies and goblins. The park is also home to many plants and animals including rabbits, various birds and turtles.

In Umbria: the Bosco di San Francesco in Assisi

A visit to the ancient Bosco di San Francesco in Assisi - 64 hectares of woods protected by FAI (the Italian Environment Fund) - is a remarkable experience. Its natural beauty wins visitors over at first glance, but the true allure of this place comes from its history - the story of man and religious orders that once lived and worked here. 

The forest still bears traces of St. Francis’ extraordinary life and teachings dating back to more than 800 years ago. Starting from the Basilica di San Francesco and passing through the Selva di San Francesco woodlands, cultivated fields, clearings and olive groves, visitors will reach a valley once inhabited by Benedictine nuns. A church, mill, remains of a hospital and monastery still stand as testimony to the past. Further on, visitors can admire “Terzo Paradiso” (Third Paradise), an extraordinary work of land art by Michelangelo Pistoletto created especially for the Bosco di San Francesco.

The park is open daily from April to September, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and guided tours can be booked in advance by writing to: faiboscoassisi@fondoambiente.it

In Lazio: Bosco dell’Arrone in Fiumicino

Recently inaugurated in 2012, the Bosco dell’Arrone WWF oasis on the Maccarese-Fregene seafront (Fiumicino) is a real gem outside the sprawling city of Rome. Saved from the uncontrolled building along the coast, the forty protected hectares are home to ancient forests, Mediterranean shrub and sand dunes that go all the way to the sea following the flow of the river.

In the thick woods coloured by wild orchids and other rare plant species, porcupines, weasels, skunks, tree frogs and titmice find their ideal habitat. Robins, nocturnal birds of prey like barn owls and tawny owls, marsh harriers, red kites and many migratory birds also live and nest here. Groundwater pools are evidence of the area’s former ecosystem, when the land was home to marshes and a great biodiversity.

The main entrance to the oasis is located in Via Sestri Levante in Fregene north, on the corner of Via Tirrenia, Maccarese.

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