The length of Stretti di Giaredo is around 1000 metres and they represent the inferior part of the wide rock gorge of Gordana stream which lengthen for circa 7 km from Noce di Zeri village (560 metres above the sea level) to the abandoned settlement of Giaredo (330 metres above the sea level), near Pontremoli.
In this tract the valley is steep, the built-up areas are few and they have small dimensions, the stream flows among rocky blocks and vertical walls polished by the water.
The valley of rocky gorges is a protected area according to the 92/43/CEE directive, also known Habitat, which recognises this geographic area as a Special Area of Conservation, identified through a code IT5110001 and the denomination “Gordana Stream Valley”*
The area called “Stretti di Giaredo” represents the most accessible tract for the people, because here the rocky gorge of Gordana stream ends; moreover it represents the most suggestive and charming way of the whole fluvial gorge, the rocky walls are high, narrow and differently coloured and stratified.
* Habitat directive has the aim to preserve plants, animals and their life environments to assure their presence on the territory and avoid the extinction. The safeguard of living species passes through their habitat preservation and the possibility to move in the space according to ecologic needs, for this reason the protected areas, according to Habitat directive, meet in the 2000 Nature Web, a whole of various geographic areas.
Gordana Stream Valley: the vegetation is undoubtedly variable along Gordana Valley.
In the east we find, for example, magnificent holm-oaks, which is a typically Mediterranean oak and an evergreen tree.
There is another oak which prefers mild climates, the Roverella. If we move to the west and to the northern side we find, instead, different deciduous trees woods: Hornbeam, Maple and the Lime. Always in these fresh and humid places we can find some beeches at 400 metres above the sea level and Blueberry. Near the stream the humidity is greater and so we can find some small woods of Ash and Alder which sometimes form green tunnels above the stream. The chestnut groves are numerous, nowadays they are abandoned and constituted for centuries the essential source of supplying for the people who lived in the mountains.
Stretti di Giaredo: the vegetation inside the gorge is characterised by a poor biodiversity caused by the difficult conditions for the organisms. Despite this we can observe important plants and woods. The arboreal tunnels are protected by an European and national normative, in particular the wood formed by the Ash and the Alder. Along the stream you can find Willows, Poplar, Alder, Lime and Hornbeam. Among plants with an ancient origin it is possible to observe the Scolopendria, which is a fern. We can see also lichens which cover some rock surfaces and colour them of an intense yellow colour.
Gordana Valley: the forest assures refuge and food for a lot of the most common animals of the Apennine. Walking in the protected area you will meet many birds, as Blackbird, Black cap, Robin, Thrush, Hooded crow, Woodpecker and Wren. If the walking is during the night, you will hear the Tawny owl, a very common nocturnal raptor which uses old hollow trees to sleep. As the Tawny owl, other small mammals use the hollow trees as houses, for example the Dormouse and the Squirrel.
If we move silently, we can observe the Roe or the Wild Bear. Other common mammals are the badger, European leper and the European hedgehog. Among the predators there are the Wolf, the Fox and the Beech-marten, they are very difficult to see and they have nocturnal habits.
Also the bats live in the valley, some species have big dimensions as the Latches. If during the walking you reach the stream or a lateral watercourse, you can see the common Toad and the frog: during the months of reproduction you will find thousand of tadpoles. In the valley there is the Salamander and the Newt . If frogs and toads are the simple amphibians to see, the water snake, better known as Ring snake, is common among the reptiles, but very difficult to see.
The Slowworm and the Lizard are more easily to see. Among the birds of big dimensions we can notice the golden Eagle and the Raven.
Stretti di Giaredo: it will be very easy to see the frog and the toad, and for the birds, the heron and if you pay attention, you can observe the blackbird which swims in the cold water to look for food. Near or inside water it is possible to see a Ring snake which escapes or remains immobile using its mimic properties.
The tadpoles of the amphibians are not a game for children or for adults. They are the joeys of frogs and toad, if we put them outside water they die because they breathe through gills. When the tadpoles grow, there is the metamorphosis and they transform into frogs e toads. Also frogs and toads are not a game for children and adults: their bones are extremely fragile and so every manipulation can provoke internal haemorrhages. It is strictly forbidden to collect tadpoles, frogs and toads and their manipulation.
If you see a snake, it will probably be a Ring snake, so a safe snake. In any case, observe it at the right distance to avoid to scare it, do not try to touch or kill it. Remember: YOU ARE IN A PROTECTED AREA. The common Viper, or Asp, is anyway in the protected area: if you believe to be bitten by a viper, do not get restless, do not cut or suck the wound, do not bind it with lace or with other things, do not move it. Call fast the 112, say the place where you are, describe with a great precision the accident and follow the instructions of the doctor. Remember: the majority bites of a snake concern the limbs, in particular ankle, hand and wrist, in this case you are not in danger of life (but call the 112).
Going up the tract Stretti di Giaredo of Gordana Valley and observing the vertical rocky walls which delimit them, it is a journey which dates back to 200 million years ago through the geological eras which characterised the different lithological formation of this area of Lunigiana.
This deep river gorge is very interested from a didactic and landscape point of view, because it shows the erosive and plastic action of the river moulding and the capacity of water to carve deeply the rock through a continuous activity which lasts for millennial.
The rocks are characterised by horizontal stratifications and show a range of colours: red, green, grey, light blue, for this reason the panorama is particularly suggestive and interesting, this allows an easy recognition of geological formations which compose it and allows to perceive in a sensory way the extraordinary power of nature which is able to shape the territory.
The rocky outcrops inside Stretti di Giaredo are special for the lithologic composition, for smooth shapes and for thick and coloured stratifications. The environment which develops is amazing…so that this place stay unaltered and utilizable by the people who will come after you, it is necessary your collaboration: do not scrape, do not carve, do not move stones and do not dirty the walls around you. It can happen, if you are a careful observer, to see particular white formations which slide along the wall imitating the stalactites: they are calcareous concretions which grow very slowly and their structures are extremely fragile. Observe the secular work of the water dripping, but without influence it: do not lean, do not touch and do not remove these formations.
The river and the man works
Stretti di Giaredo were formed by the work of Gordana stream, a classical Apennine stream which is subject to flood during the spring and the autumn, when rains are abundant, and periods of minimum flow during the summer. The source of the Stream is the Tecchione Mount (1582 metres above the sea level) in Zeri municipality, not so far from Passo dei Due Santi and the ZumZeri ski resort. The Tecchione Mount is on the border line between Tuscany and Emilia Region very near Liguria Region. The river has a total lenght of 18 km, until Pontremoli, where it becomes an affluent of Magra River.
Along the flow of the Stream, in the highest part of Stretti, there is a small artificial storage (maximum capacity 120000 mc) generated by a dam called “Giaredo “, whose works started in 1938.