An Italian Job

DSCN4327-PanoramaScratch the surface of Beauty, and Terror may lie , not very far below.


High in the Appenines, Lago Santo Parmenese sits at 1500 metres. The Rifugio Mariotti stands at the waters edge, gazing across to 300 metre cliffs and the Appenine crest...... an idyllic scene which echoed for me the sea-side setting of Guirdil bothy on Rum.

A plaque reads “ From this Refuge nine partisans after 20 hours of hard fighting drove off an overwhelming force of enemy.......... 19 March 1944”.

Lago Santo was the mid-point of our 4-day trek to walk the northern end of (this part of) the Appenine mountain ridge. (Having done 6 days southwards a few years back). In total there are 750 miles of these mountains. For days on end, the ridge runs along usually about 2 metres wide. Although it is mostly grass and just occasionally rocky, the sides are often fiercely steep: you very seriously wouldn't want to slip the 800 metres drop west into Tuscany !

As the ridge undulates at about 1800 metres, beech forests cluster around. In hot sunny weather, their shade was very welcome. The forest trails have seen monks and pilgrims pass by, smugglers, traders, charcoal-burners, and resistance fighters. We saw just a couple of eagles, and a very few humans.

We'd gone to Italy cabin baggage only, so that the trip was hut to hut for a few days with no base. At Passo della Cisa, comes a point where the Romans had cut a road through the hills. Leaving more of the ridge for other times, we dropped down through beech woods and past mediaeval fortresses towards Pisa and the plane home.




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