For those who love uncontaminated places, which allow you to spend whole days immersed in nature, the MAB nature reserve of Collemeluccio-Montedimezzo is the ideal destination: established in 1971, it covers 347 hectares and is a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
UNESCO’s Man And the Biosphere (MAB) Program
The MAB Program (acronym for Man And the Biosphere) was started by UNESCO in 1971 with the aim of promoting a balanced relationship between man and the environment worldwide through the protection of natural ecosystems, attention to sustainable development and the protection of cultural identity.
The Collemeluccio-Montedimezzo Alto Molise Reserve actively participates in the program by supporting research and monitoring for the conservation of biodiversity, ecological tourism, local agri-food production and education on environmental and cultural heritage together with other 713 reserves distributed in over 129 countries.
Territory, flora and fauna
The soils of the reserve, located at altitudes between 790 and 1065 meters above sea level, are characterized by schistose sandstones and marly limestone, while the forest area is made up of clayey formations that make the landscape soft and undulating. In the north is the ancient Fonte Cupa spring which attracts hundreds of visitors every year.
More than 80% of the forest surface is covered by silver fir, a descendant of the ancient fir trees which, over the centuries, have covered the Apennine ridge and which, even today, are also found in Abruzzo, Tuscany and Calabria, as well as in Molise.
Together with the silver fir it is also possible to contemplate the Turkey oak, the beech, the white hornbeam, the field maple, the field elm, the wild service tree and the ash major. Going down towards the undergrowth, on the other hand, it is very easy to find yourself surrounded by hawthorn, holly, blackthorn and hazel, which give way to apple trees, wild pear trees. rowans, dog rose and plum wild in clearings and along the edges of rivers.
Equally numerous are the animal species that can be encountered while walking inside the reserve: roe deer, hares, badgers, martens, weasels, stone martens, foxes, squirrels, cats and the inevitable wild boars roam undisturbed on the territory, while contemplating them from above it is possible to see the hawk pilgrim, the gardener, the hawk honey buzzard, the kite real, the collared flycatcher, the biancone, the tottavilla, the small shrike and the buzzard.
What to do inside the reserve
The Collemeluccio-Montedimezzo Reserve offers various activities aimed at adults, children, sports lovers or simple daydreamers! Thanks to the presence of marked trails, which can be covered both on foot and by bike, the forest is an area that is easily accessible to anyone, even the less agile or fearless. Among the destinations to be mentioned is undoubtedly Colle Gendarme, a lookout point from which you can enjoy a breathtaking view of a fascinating landscape, characterized by the ruins of the ancient water mill and the ancient Fonte Cupa spring.
Between a walk and another, then, you can stop and visit the museum, which houses the most characteristic woods and animals of the forest and surrounded by an area specially equipped for parking.
In addition to the museum, it is also possible to visit a large wildlife area, which welcomes all the animals in difficulty recovered in the area and to go hiking on trails equipped with appropriate signs.
Since the entrance to the reserve is open to anyone, there are toilets and specially equipped paths for people with disabilities, in particular the “Colle San Biagio” path. In addition, the visitor center offers a free guide in Braille, an audio guide and two electric scooters to be able to move around the bottom of the various paths.
Events and trips in the surrounding area
Just wander around the various municipalities in the area to discover simply wonderful places: these include the Italic Sanctuary of Pietrabbondante, the Museum of Civilizations and of the Period Costume of San Pietro Avellana, the Museum of Peasant Civilization and the Museum of ceramics of Pescolanciano.
Among the unmissable events, however, it is possible to mention the Feast of the Patron Saint San Giorgio Martire, the Bonfire of the ‘ndocce in Pietrabbondante, the Summer CAR – Culture, Art, Catering in Carovilli, the foot race “Re Fajone” and the various musical evenings in San Pietro Avellana, the guided tour in the MAB Reserve – Bosco di Collemeluccio in Pescolanciano, the food and wine events in Vastogirardi.