It’s known as the ‘Forest of the Violins’ (Foresta dei Violini) because, in the past, luthier masters, including the most famous of them all, the legendary Antonio Stradivari, were said to go in person to select the finest wood for building that most elegant and precious musical instrument that is the violin.
Where is this special forest? In Trentino’s Val di Fiemme, a major valley in the Dolomites area, precisely within the Paneveggio-Pale di San Martino Natural Park.
The forest here is made up primarily of centuries-old red firs; their wood is especially stretchy, flexible, which allows for a better transmission of sound; the trees’ lymphatic channels are like tiny organ pipes that create top quality resonance. By observing the foliage, bark, trunk and even the position, experienced woodsmen and musicians know before cutting which trees are best for ‘playing’.
Some of the greatest contemporary violinists, including Salvatore Accardo, Uto Ughi, the Solisti Veneti group and the cellist Mario Brunello, have played in this forest to homage a place that has provided them with such precious material. Every year, the local Val di Fiemme community dedicates a fir tree from the forest to a musician who, through his or her music, has helped make this forest known to the larger public.
Some of the violins made with the wood from this forest are still preserved today in Cremona’s Violin Museum (Cremona in Lombardy is famous for its musical history and traditions, and for being the birthplace of some of the best luthiers, including Giuseppe Guarneri and Stradivari himself).
You can reach the Forest of the Violins/Paneveggio Forest from the Visitor Center of the Paneveggio Park, along Statale n. 50 road, going from Predazzo to Passo Rolle.