All around were a multitude of Narcissus Poeticus – that little daffodil with the intoxicating perfume from which some of the world’s most expensive perfumes are made. The flowers spread round across the northern and eastern slopes of Monte Croce and looked out onto the surrounding mountains: the Queen of the Apuans, Pania Della Croce capped by a threatening storm cloud, the Procinto with its panettone shape and the gentler mountains to the south: Piglione, Nona and Matanna. It seemed from a little distance as if the whole area had been covered with a sprinkling of scented snow!
I thought to myself – if the Elysian Fields do exist they must be here!
The previous week I’d visited the wonderful little flowers on the Prato Fiorito but this was a sight to even beat those in beauty. Had the rain stimulated those bulbs, so long hidden in the mountain’s womb, to burst open into the world, for there has been precious little full sunshine in recent days?
I rested by the cross at the summit of the 4311 foot high mountain and surveyed the immense panorama. In the middle distance were the villages of Trassilico and Vergemoli and beyond the Serchio valley the Apennines stretched their uniform ridges.
I’ve climbed this mountain at couple of times before but never before in this jonquil-flowering season. The route I took this time was different. Instead of going from Le Porchette, with the hidden natural stairs hidden in a torrent crevasse, and instead of branching up from the ancient milestone of ‘Il Termine’ I took an unmarked path starting from a lonely farmhouse above Palagnana.
The path at first went through some last fragments of woodland before emerging into pastures on the east side of the mountain.
Here it joined up with footpath no. 108 but only for a short while, for another unmarked path, the ascent of Monte Croce, started. I’d climbed the mountain from the south but this was the first time I’d done it on its east side. The ascent is marked by this post:
It takes around half an hour to reach the summit and the whole walk took less than three hours. It was just as well it didn’t take longer for as soon as I’d come off Monte Croce the summit was enveloped in rain…
PS You get to Palagnana by going up the Turrite Cava valley in the direction of Fabbriche di Vallico and as described in my previous post. You’ll know that you’re in the correct valley because here are some of the sights you’ll see en route: