Gola del Furlo

Useful Information

Location: Riserva Naturale Statale Gola del Furlo,
(43.6461857, 12.7228071)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: GorgeGorge
Light: n/a
Dimension: L=1.7 km, W=100-600 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Address: Sede Riserva Naturale Statale Gola del Furlo, Centro Visite, Via Flaminia 37 loc. Furlo, 61041 Comune di Acqualagna, Tel: +39-0721-700041. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1502 used by Lucrezia Borgia on a journey to Ferrara.
1506 Julius II takes the road on his way to Bologna.
1776 tunnel and road reopened.
23-MAY-1849 to 12-JUN-1849 soldiers of the Roman Republic, commanded by Colonel L. Pianciani, fight a skirmish in the pass with the Austrian army.
1922 river dammed.
1930s profile of Benito Mussolini sculpted on the slopes of Mount Pietralata.
World War II profile of Benito Mussolini destroyed by partisans.
1980s tunnel for motorway completed.
2001 Sede Riserva Naturale Statale Gola del Furlo created.
2014 stamp showing the gorge issued by the Italian Post Office.


The Gola del Furlo (Furlo Gorge) is the river gorge of the Candigliano river, a tributary of the Metauro. The river cut into the limestone massif between the Pietralata (889 m asl) and Paganuccio (976 m asl) mountains. It originates in the Apenine mountain ridge and flows straight to the sea. The river cut a deep gorge with vertical limestone walls, but this process ended in 1922, when a dam was built at the lower end, and so there is now a narrow but 2 km long lake in the gorge. The gorge was dubbed the Grand Canyon of Italy.

The formation of such a gorge requires a long time of cutting into the rock. It's obviously impossible that the process starts with a river flowing over a mountain. Water does not flow uphill. Actually, the process was the other way round, the river flowed always at more or less the same level, the mountains moved upwards. This is a large anticlinal structure with a core of Jurassic limestone which formed at the same time as the uplift of the Apennine ridge. The mesozoic limestones in the gorge are very rich in fossils. Several species were first discovered here and named after the place, like the genera Furloceras and Furlites and the species Taffertia furlensis.

The gorge is also called Passo del Furlo (Furlo Pass), as it was a sort of connection between both sides of the limestone massif, like a pass connects two valleys. Since Roman times, there is a road through the gorge. Today it's the Via Furlo or Via Flaminia, a narrow single-lane road with numerous parking lots, outlooks, and even some restaurants. When following the motorway SS-3 from Fano to Gubbio, which is also called Via Flaminia, the motorway crosses the mountain through a tunnel. But there are exists on both ends, Aqualagna on the western side and Calmazzo on the eastern side. So its actually not a detour to leave the motorway on one end and return on the other.

The first who made the gorge accessible were the Etruscans. They built a 38.3 m long and 5.95 m high tunnel for this purpose. The gorge was further developed as a pass under the Roman emperor Vespasian. He ordered the construction of a tunnel at the narrowest point of the gorge. The tunnel was called forulum in Latin, which means small hole, which is thought to be the origin of the name Via Flaminia. In the 6th century, during the Gothic Wars, the Ostrogoth King Totila had the pass fortified. But his troops were nevertheless ousted by the Roman general Belisarius. Between 570 and 578 the Lombards conquered the pass and destroyed the fortifications. While they are gone now, both tunnels still exist and the Roman tunnel is still used by the road today. It is located at the eastern end of the gorge.

The gorge is 1.7 km long, so there is actually not a single location, so we used the coordinates of the Grotta del Grano, which is more or less halfway. This erosional cave was cut into the limestone by the river, when it was much higher. Today it is located a little higher than the road on the side opposite the river. It is an elongated shelter along the road.

The area of the gorge is protected by the Riserva Naturale Statale Gola del Furlo. The park has a visitor center which is located at Via Flaminia 37, near Acqualagna at the western end of the gorge. It offers information for tourists, sells the publications of the Nature Reserve, stamps showing the gorge, and hiking maps. The visitor center has a shop with archaeological and naturalistic in-depth books, unfortunately only in Italian, and free Wi-Fi. The red building also houses the Museo del Territorio Lorenzo Mannozzi-Torini (Lorenzo Mannozzi-Torini Territory Museum), a museum about local history and geology. There is an exhibition with fossils from the area.