San Luigi alpeggio (or summer pasture) above Vallico di Sopra in the Val Turrite is the starting point for a number of interesting walks, the main ones of which are:
- Monte Palodina (See my posts at https://longoio2.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/a-supernatural-mountain/ and at https://longoio2.wordpress.com/2014/08/05/paladin-mountain/ )
- Monte Penna
Monte Penna is a strange mountain. It’s a sort of Pietra Bismantova of the Garfagnana.
(If you don’t know what the Pietra Bismantova looks like here is a photo of it when we passed it in 2007 on the way back from a wedding. As you can see it’s an excellent place to go to if you’re looking for a lover’s leap!)
With a flat top and sheer sides on its northern and southern flanks, Monte Penna is a mountain riddled with caves, one of which, the grotta di Casteltendine (or Castelvenere), has become famous through the finding of Etruscan fertility statuettes which are now on display in the Rocca Ariostesca museum at Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. (Do see my posts at https://longoio.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/heavenly-alpeggio/ and https://longoio.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/the-tuscan-underground/ for pictures of that cave and also of San Luigi and its little chapel.)
(View of Monte Penna from Monte Palodina)
It’s possible to do a round trip edging below these sheer cliffs from San Luigi by following CAI footpath 136. The first stage takes one to a cross in about an hour. Another hour brings one to the village of Cardoso and thence to the cave of Casteltendine and the road to San Luigi.
Yesterday afternoon I started out from San Luigi with the aim of getting to the cross. I’d done this route some years before and could not remember it descending so much in its first stage. The footpath went through an immense chestnut forest with some really old trees.
I passed a couple of ruined metati (chestnut drying sheds)
The path now entered into a holm oak and birch area which was littered with huge rocks cast down from the top of Monte Penna.
There were several expanses of pretty autumn crocuses.
Eventually I reached a sign stating:
Here at last was the cross I had visited all those years ago.
There were some nice poems dedicated to the joys of mountain walking:
The English description of the cross was hard to follow to say the least….
(I think Google translate could have done better! It’s a pity these translations get plastered up at all. Surely, Italy’s wonders deserve healthier prose!)
The cross was erected by the citizens of Bolognana whose present priest, formerly of San Gemignano, is Don Emiliano. I wonder if he’s led pilgrimages to the cross. Although not a difficult walk it certainly requires a little training in negotiating a couple of scree slopes and some somewhat dodgy torrent channels.
The view from the cross is excellent: the whole of the Serchio valley from the gorge beyond Ponte a Campia to Mediavalle stretches out before one. It’s truly a three-D map and the geography of the area can be clearly worked out.
Straight down before me, for example, were the metal works where part of the euro is manufacture.
Here’s Loppia as seen from Monte Penna:
Far to the right the Prato Fiorito above Longoio was clearly visible.
I returned to San Luigi following the same route. The only snag was that the steepest climb was at the end of the path – not so wonderful if one has been walking for over two hours!
However, the walk was well worth it. The weather in September and October is brilliant for this kind of activity: bright, not too hot and, in this case, the forest provided ample shade from too much sun.
What fresh woods and pastures new today I wonder?
(The chapel, fountain and cheese dairy at San Luigi)