As we’re going to Jordan next month I thought I’d better get my walking legs into ship-shape and Bristol fashion, especially after various seasonal ailments which have been afflicting me.
The great thing about living here is that one doesn’t have to go to a fitness centre – the whole area is one huge gym! For my walk yesterday I decided I’d tackle a very pleasant mountain but one I hadn’t done for yonks: Monte Paladino which, at 1171 metres, (3841 feet – Snowdon’s 3560 feet high) rises above the valle del Turrite and whose base is easily reached by taking the road up though Vallico di Sotto and Vallico di Sopra (both villages well worth exploring) until one reaches the beautiful alpeggio (alpine pasture) of San Luigi (which I’ve described at https://longoio.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/heavenly-alpeggio/).
The first part of the walk takes one through chestnut forests of unutterable beauty. There were a couple of dodgy bits especially when, because of the excessive rainfall we’ve had this year, some parts of the paths were turned into torrents but, otherwise, it’s pretty easy going.
The path is beautifully marked with its familiar CAI red and white signs and the footpath number (131) all of which seemed freshly re-painted.
The path eases out into a beech forest clear of undergrowth and quite magnificent. The birches then take over and start shining silver against a true blue sky of deepest clarity. Rocks begin to appear through the turf and then the views expand. The final stretch is truly like walking on the Elysian Fields and the lovely mountain top is crowned by a recently replaced cross.
The views are to die for. Indeed, one of the amazing features of this mountain is that it is placed so far forwards in the Apuan range that a 360 view can be had not only of the Serchio’s valley, not only of the villages and towns gracing the Apennines slopes on its other side, but also of the villages dotting the Apuan part of the valley. Here is Trassilico (spot its castle turret?) and Vergemoli, for example.
What I didn’t see, however, was any of the X-file phenomena for which Monte Palodina is famous. For example, in the 90s, while mushroom hunting, a lady saw a creature with a crocodile-like snout and a body covered with scales. Fortunately, she managed to get away in time to tell the story. Others have seen strange ectoplasmic beings around a metre high making wierd noises. UFO’s have been spotted quite regularly on this mountain and strange lights observed.
At the top I lay flat on the purest perfumed turf imaginable and soaked in the glorious afternoon sun. The best things in life are free (given a little muscular effort) and yesterday was a supreme example of this fact. How immensely lucky to be alive here!
PS Not wishing to be abducted by possibly intergalactic aliens I decided I’d get off the mountain well before dusk fell. However, I’ll want to be back on 25 February or 15th October next year to view the amazing phenomenon of the double sunset of Monte Forato which is meant to be quite something when see from Monte Palodina.