After a great lunch at Bagni’s new-management ‘Circolo dei Forestieri’ restaurant (Tortelli arrabbiati – filled pasta, Rosticciana – pork ribs in wine, Patate, plus vino bread etc. all for just 11 Euros) I decided to take a look again at the Foce a Giovo, (height 5,500 feet) having written about it in yesterday’s post.
The afternoon was limpid. A gentle wind had cleaned the previously cloudy and humid atmosphere, making everything seem so clear and so close at hand.
I took the old grand ducal road up the Val Fegana and looked toward the monte Rondinaio which crowns the foce a Giovo to the left. Soon, I hoped, I’d be on top of the Apennine world again.
I was slightly disconcerted by some hand-made protest signs which stated that the more taxes one paid the more potholes appeared in the grand-ducal road.
Another sign read that the grand-ducal road should be re-opened again to Foce al Giovo. What did all this mean, I wondered.
After passing the rifugio Casentini (closed now except at week-ends) I began the real climb on my trusty scooter and on a rapidly deteriorating unmetalled road. The switchbacks through the wonderful birch tree forest offered some respite and soon, I hoped, I’d be out of the wood into the expansive upper pastures.
Then suddenly I found the road blocked in front of me by a chain and two solid concrete blocks. There was absolutely no way round them with the scooter. I could, of course, take to my legs and walk to the top of the pass (two hours) but time was against me – I’d banked on doing the whole stretch on my scooter.
Thoroughly disappointed but compensated by wonderful views I started my return journey.
I’d never in the ten years that I’d known this dare-devil of a road found it closed before (except for the winter snows, of course) but something must have happened to it to create a risk not worth considering by motorists. It was all so sad,.Why was this road now closed? Evidently, it’s because last year a 4 x 4 went off course and catapulted itself down the mountain side causing an expensive rescue operation. Result: the road was declared off-limits.
I think it may be possible to do the road again on a two-wheeler as it’s feasible to play around with the chain and get the vehicle under it. However, if one does this in July and August, the height of the tourist season, one is likely to have the forestry guards spotting one and arresting for trespass without permit. Not a good idea!
In the evening I watched the news and heard about the thousands of migrants who had been blocked at various national frontiers and their way forwards to the Promised Land halted. In a similar, though very minor way of course, I too felt that my way to the high pastures of the Apennines had been blocked and that I had been denied something that could have lifted me to a higher level.
Driving or biking to the foce di Giove is truly one of the best life experiences in this part of the world. The road’s mentioned in such guides as Lonely Planet, for example, as a stupendous route to take. I could not help feeling that the reason why the road had been closed from this year was as a money-saving exercise. This can do no good to people visiting the area and certainly, to people living here. I realised at once, that the ominous signs I’d read coming up this far were absolutely correct in their plea not to abandon this most scenic of Italian routes.
I do hope that the relevant authorities will see reason and invest some money on this amazing road which truly leads one to heaven.
My return route to Longoio took me through Ponte a Gaia. I was surprised to find that the rough road up to Montefegatesi had had some stretches now tarmacked. Ah well. Never give up hope…
If you want to see more of this route there’s a good video at:
Despite the greyish weather that journey was undertaken in and the pile of cars at the top (only typical at the height of summer) the video gives a good idea of what you’ll be missing if the road continues to be blocked in this totally unacceptable way.