Violin’s Forest

Where the trees are naturally musical

For centuries, the spruces of the Violin’s Forest have been used in the world’s finest instruments

Geography and climate have conspired to produce extraordinary trees in the forests east of Predazzo. Managed for 900 years by the Magnifica Comunità di Fiemme, their timber resonates with an unusually clear and consistent tone, and they have inspired both instrument makers and musicians for centuries.

In winter, all forests feel magical. Hushed and white beneath their mantles of snow, they’re beautiful places in which to strap on a pair of snowshoes, and go for a walk.

But for music lovers no forest is more bewitching than la Foresta dei Violini, just east of Paneveggio in the Val di Fiemme. Called, in English, the Violin’s Forest, it was colonized long ago by red Italian spruces, and they grow straight and slow along its chilly and sheltered slopes. As a result, their wood is dense and consistent, and makes near-perfect soundboards for musical instruments. Stradivarius used it, and it’s still sought after for the world’s finest violins, cellos, pianos and guitars. In fact, 10% of the trees here are suitable for this sacred purpose, compared with an average of 0.8%.

The Violin’s Forest is just east of the visitor centre of the Nature Park of Paneveggio–Pale di San Martino, which has a small museum dedicated to these musical trees. It also offers guided walks, where you’ll learn about the history of the forest, and its careful management. It is, for example, thought that trees intended for soundboards are best harvested during a waning moon in early winter, so that there is less sap in the timber.  

The more adventurous should also seek out il Bosco che Suona – “the Valley of Harmony” – which is a 5km walk from the car park at the Miola restaurant, in the Valmaggiore. Here too there is a near-perfect micro-climate for musical trees, and in a remarkable new project, musicians are being invited to adopt a tree, and play a piece of music inspired by it.  Download the app “Il Bosco che Suona”, on Google Play before you go, and you can listen to the results as you walk through the forest.