Elysian Fields

What better way to spend a fine late summer day (such days have been so rare in Italy this year) than to take a walk among the Apuan mountains which lie at our doorstep. Together with two friends and their exceptional dog, we drove to the Albergo Alto Matanna whose association with the great pioneer of alpine climbing, colonel Budden, I have already described at http://longoio.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/high-rise-hotel/

We took the trail to the Callare di Matanna. Reaching the top of the ridge we were treated to the most spectacularly clear views I have ever seen from this spot. A vast stretch of the Italian coastline could be seen from Bordighera to Civitavecchia.  Several islands could also be identified including Elba, Capraia, Sardinia and Corsica. It was like having a relief map spread out before us…

We returned to the hotel via a different route, passing a large pond.

Deciding we were hungry, we then drove to Palagnana where we had a brilliant lunch consisting of tortelli, champignon, roast beef, porchetta, potatoes, beans, salad, fruit white and red wines, coffee and limoncino all for the equivalent price of just under eight quid per person!

Sadly, the backwoodsman I described in my post at http://longoio.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/firewood-cribs-and-crocuses/ passed away a couple of years ago. He was the uncle of the restaurant owner.

In order to aid our digestion after the scrumptious repast we headed for the slopes of Monte Croce (not to be confused with Pania Della Croce) which I’ve described at http://longoio.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/monte-croce/. (Incidentally path 137 still remains closed because of that giant landslide).

At the spot called “il termine” was this boundary stone demarcating the end of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany (GDT) and the principality of Modena. Clearly, it dated well before the unification of Italy.

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On our way we spotted this cable car used to trasport items up and down the very steep slopes:

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Here, again, the views were better than I’ve ever seen them on previous visists to this Elysian place. They stretched from the massif of the Pania della Croce (which I’ve described at http://longoio.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/apuan-queen/) to the main ridge (crinale) of the appenines which almost formed a straight line at an average height of 6,600 feet).

Sandra was thrilled at the number of galletti mushrooms (chanterelles) she was able to find in the forest:

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We thought of returning via a different route, through grassy meadows avoiding the forest, but no clear path was indicated and there was the possibility of meeting up with vipers.

There is nothing like a good walk to clear the mind and place things into perspective, both externally and internally. When this walk is taken in convivial company the pleasure is even greater.




2 thoughts on “Elysian Fields

  1. Well I have to say that I was exceedingly thrilled at my progress in walking as I had a bad cruciate ligament injury a couple of years ago and could not even walk indoors let alone do rambles but I managed slowly and aided by a mountain walking stick as well as following in the steps of the best walker at times. I even took a tumble in order to collect that wonderful chanterelle so I have ended up with a few bruised ribs! In all these years I had never had such a wonderful view of the sea from that point what a wonderful reward for the effort! Certainly the pasta seemed to help release more energy for yet another most pleasant afternoon ramble in the woods all following Indian style on decent paths no major difficulties to report there at all except a short way over a river bed with pesky stones! We enjoyed the coolness of the forest tree canopy it was a truly glorious sunny day worth every second with more rewarding spectacular views especially of the Pania della Croce which we had climbed in our younger days!

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