Tradate e Appiano Gentile, Parco regionale della Pineta di Appiano Gentile e di Tradate
Straddling the provinces of Varese and Como is another park of great interest; that of Pineta di Appiano Gentile e di Tradate. It is an expanse of woodland continuing into the heart of this intensely urbanised area, a real green lung, thanks to the re-forestation introduced by Maria Teresa of Austria; nowadays it covers 67% of that area, extending comprehensively over 4,860 hectares. There are woods of chestnut, pines and common oak, below which lie meadows, carpets of field orchids, dogtooth violets and rare species such as the honey buzzard, the goshawk, the crested tit, the red squirrel, the fox and the mole find refuge here.
Towards the south, the territory of Varese includes the initial part of the Ticino Park, one of the biggest parks of the Padana plain, which extends over an area of more than 90,000 hectares in the Lombardy provinces of Varese, Milan and Pavia (other than in Novara, Piemonte).
Established in 1974 in one of Italy’s most densely populated areas to defend the river from an ever more invasive urbanisation, it includes woods, which are the last vestiges of the broadleaf forest that once covered the whole of the Padana plain, and wetlands of extraordinary naturalistic interest, where birds that had almost disappeared in these areas have returned.
With its 400 kilometres of footpaths and 100 kilometres of cycle trails, the Ticino Park offers the visitor an infinite varieties of itineraries; apart from on foot or by bicycle, one can negotiate some stretches of the river by canoe or take part in organised treks on horseback. In brief, there are many different ways to visit what was once the first fluvial park in Italy and which today remains one of the biggest on the Padana plain where you can allow yourself to become entranced by the dancing light reflections of the woodlands or seek out the shaded bends of the river, with its pebble riverbed and admire the serene flight of mallards and herons.