The town of Vezzano

Vezzano is situated in the valley of the Crostolo stream, amid the Reggio Emilian foothills. The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times, as attested by numerous archaeological finds dating back to this period from the area of Monte del Gesso and others around the village. In Roman times, the location probably constituted a major "hub" between the plains and the mountains, lying on a route along the stream entering the Apennines. The current town is thought to originate from the late Middle Ages, following abandonment of the ancient village located near the "Castello del Gesso", an important fortified garrison erected on top of the homonymous "mountain" that overlooks the modern town. This was when activities began to exploit the mineral gypsum, which, together with the gathering of river pebbles, was for centuries one of the local community’s main resources. As evidence of its ancient roots, the town still features some "tower-houses" from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The building of greatest historical and artistic interest is the parish church, particularly significant for its fine vestments and a lunette portal bearing the Canossa coat of arms, conceivably from the "Castello del Gesso" above.

However, it was not until the nineteenth century that the town really began to develop, following completion of a direct road to the Cerreto Pass. This significantly boosted trade and production activities, including a re-launching of traditional gypsum processing. In fact, the town’s "lime kiln" dates back to this period, which gave great impetus to the mining and processing of ore.

The current town hall, which overlooks Piazza della Libertà, lies almost exactly in the centre of the modern city, midway between the public park, a fully-equipped sports area, and a recent library built near an old mediaeval mill. Immediately to the north of the town stretches a vast industrial area with important production facilities. Vezzano is located along the Crostolo Valley hiking trail, which connects the city of Reggio to the Apennine foothills and joins the main route leading to Canossa and San Pellegrino in Alpe. The Vezzano cycle path, which goes to the Pinetina Provincial Park, is an important "jigsaw piece" in this complex system of routes.

On the initiative of the Municipal Administration, the first section of a new cycle/pedestrian trail was recently established (2012), which follows a long stretch of the Crostolo stream to the Pinetina Provincial Park. This route offers views of some of the most interesting areas of the Val Crostolo's natural landscape, with its beautiful outcrops of limestone rocks, and enters the hygrophilous wood in the former river bed. This is a continuation of the long hiking trail that leads from Reggio Emilia to Vezzano, climbing the line of the Crostolo stream. One stopping point on this excursion is the Pinetina Provincial Park, which is a popular tourist area with amenities dedicated above all to getting to know and enjoying the natural environment. The area originates from a black pine reforestation carried out in the early decades of the last century in order to prevent the failure of a vast clay-bearing area. After the best part of a century, the land has evolved, creating the right conditions for the reintroduction of native forest dominated by oaks. A well-organized series of trails throughout the Provincial Park offers views of the main natural features and botanical specimens, while the presence of small wildlife enhances the attractiveness of this fascinating protected area.