Furlo is the home of many wild animals of great ecological importance, including the wolf, golden eagle, Montagu's harrier (Circus pygargus), peregrine falcon, sparrow hawk (Accipiter nisus), Cornish chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and wall creeper (Tichodroma muraria) as well as plants of botanical interest (including the Moehringa papulosa and Salix apenninica). In addition, there are 2500 hectares of state owned forest and two plant protection areas where natural habitats are in the process of development.
Against this magnificent natural background it is possible to trace back the natural history of the area which is plainly visible in the limestone cliffs of the gorge.
Among many other interesting aspects of the area are the ancient farming traditions out of which the more recent culinary culture of the truffle has grown. The mountains of Furlo and nearby Acqualagna are among the main areas in central Italy for growing the black truffle (tartufo nero) and white truffle (tartufo bianco pregiato).
The Parco naturale del San Bartolo is a natural park covering more than 1600 hectares of land in the Pesaro and Gabicce Mare districts, rising from the beaches along the Romagna and Marche border up to a series of hilly spurs and valleys and punctuated with sheer cliff faces of great beauty. The two main peaks, Monte Castellaro and Monte Brisighella, reach a height of 200 metres, giving grandstand views along the coastline and out over the sea, while the rugged cliffs provide an unusual feature in this stretch of flat sandy coastline.
Its cliffs contain fossilised fish and rare chalk crystals of great geological interest. Below them are narrow pebble beaches created from the erosion of the cliff walls above.
The Parco del San Bartolo also has interesting rare examples of flowers, vegetation and animal life. In May the hill slopes overlooking the sea are covered in yellow broom (Spartium iunceum). Most of the vegetation is relatively sparse but there are also small woodland areas of Adriatic oak. The bird-life here is another important feature, particularly in winter time, with various marine species including the red-throated diver, members of the merganser family, the crested cormorant, wild goose, long-tailed duck, common scoter and many others.
Continuing on inland from Pesaro there is another natural park which is rich in natural delights both for those who are interested in nature as well as for those who are rarely able to discover its attractions. The Parco naturale regionale del Simone e Simoncello lies in the heart of the Lands of Montefeltro, in an area which is rich in history and of particular natural interest.
It covers an area which includes the towns of Carpegna, Frontino, Montecopiolo, Pian di Meleto, Pennabilli and Pietrarubbia.
The park, established in 1996, has a modern visitors centre with a science laboratory and learning centre for children. The park has a great variety of wildlife, including birds of prey, wolves, deer and wild boar. It also provides a thriving habitat for flowers and vegetation, with specimens that are hard to find elsewhere.
A journey to admire the extraordinary beauty of the Parco Naturale di Frasassi and the Parco della Gola Rossa is certainly worthwhile. To reach Genga, take the A14 motorway as far as the 'Ancona Nord' exit and then head inland along the Ancona-Rome dual carriageway as far as the Genga- Sassoferrato turn.
Here, in the spectacular Frasassi Gorge, are the Frasassi Caves, a place which attracts more visitors than anywhere else.
This series of underground caves has been described as among the most beautiful in the world. It was discover in 1971 by the CAI Speleological Association from Ancona. Realising that this was a place of rare outstanding beauty it was decided within a space of three years to open the caves to the public. Over the years the tourist route through the caves has been extended and improved in order to highlight the colours and form of the stalactites and stalagmites as well as the natural presence of water and its majestic rock vaults. The caves are open throughout the year (except for 1st January, 24th and 25th December).
In 1997, Frasassi became part of the Parco Naturale Regionale della Gola della Rossa e di Frasassi, the largest protected area in the region. A journey around the park reveals a rich historical and artistic heritage concealed in a fascinating, peaceful landscape which is still healthy and unspoiled. This natural scenery stands in the even larger Esino-Frasassi mountain area, which comprises the towns of Arcevia, Fabriano, Genga and Serra San Quirico, places of great historical, archaeological and artistic interest.