When I signed off yesterday I was a little worried about getting the 2 tough stages in today.
The walks in the St Francis Way book are recorded as hard to Ceselli (about 15km’s) and easy to Arrone (another 15km’s) with an estimated walk time of 11 hours 15 minutes. This time of year, we only have about 11 hours of sunlight.
But the earthquake last year destabilised the 13th century aqueduct which was used to cross the ravine and a detour of 2 to 3km’s was required. So, I woke early before the alarm keen to get going and was down having breakfast at 7am sharp. Breakfast was pretty good; muesli, yoghurt, salami and cheese on brown, cappuccino, pineapple juice (2 glasses) and a banana stolen away for morning tea. Yes, I know it sounds a lot but 11 hours of walking ….
I was out the door at 730; picked up a panini for lunch, topped up the camelback and away we went paying close attention to the routing notes for the diversion.
I am writing this pre-dinner in my room. Arrone is super quiet but I have to accompany me some great Montefalco Umbrian red, mature Sardinian Pecorino (the Italians keep the good stuff for themselves including pilgrims) and some amazing local salami. I have to say this is one of life’s great pleasures.
Ok now back to the walk.
Walk to Ciselli
The diversion was tough. The first km was up, up, up. I was dreading I didn’t have the routing quite right and would have to retrace but I persevered for another 500m and confirmed I was on the right track. The diversion gave some great photos of Spoleto, the dramatic fort, Rocco Albornoziana and the aqueduct.
The immense fortress with its dominant position over the landscape. The climb begins well below it.
The city of Spoleto. Great place but really guys, restaurants and bar only opening at 7pm. Shops closed until 430pm. I had 2 places lines up to visit but with dinner at 8 in my own hotel some 15 minutes’ walk away …
And right to left, the city, the fort, the aqueduct and the hill I was about to climb (but didn’t know it yet).
The alternate crossing of the river to the aqueduct needs a little bit of dressing up.
And the Aqueduct
When you are walking you really hang out for signs like this to make sure you are on track. Walking is a combination of reading route note, using GPX routings dynamically on your phone/ipad and looking out for these. Good – Ceselli in on here (but of you look closely, I am currently at 444m, have to climb to 950m before descending to 280m. Good to avoid this type of detail.
But at times the signage needs a little TLC
The magnificent Rocco Albornoziana fort and aqueduct. The aqueduct, known as Ponte delle Torri spans a deep gorge and was constructed in the 13th century and used to carry water to the city from Monteluco.
Walk to Ciselli
The walk to Cesilli was challenging but close to the best I have done; the walk out of town with the views of Spoleto, the steep climb though the forests, the autumn colours in the birch trees, the ancient olive groves at Monteluco, the morning sun filtering through the forest layers, alpine meadows at the top of the mountains, a decent into the wilderness on paths that meandered gently through the trees or dropped sharply down slippery steep rocky goat tracks.
This walk was in three segments fairly evenly split, climb, cruise and hang on!
I struggled to reduce the photos today down to a reasonable number such was the beauty of the walk.
The walk at times is incredibly steep; here there was a firm base of hard rock which required constant attention to where you put your feet.
The cafe at Monteluco just near the Monastery. I stop and check and take a copy of the walk stats so far; almost 500m climb. The Cappuccino was amazing.
The convent of Monteluco was visited by St Francis in 1218 who was seeking solitude with his brothers in the caves here. Many famous religious leaders have spent time here. Michelangelo also spent some time here to rest from his work in Rome.
Monteluca’s park was beautiful – everyone is out walking. The Italians don’t let age weary them.
This forest was comprised of very old Olive trees – this particular species only grows above 800m.
After I leave Monteluco and continue to climb through this beautiful forest with the early morning sun dappling through the canopy.
After another 30 minutes of climbing I came out into a picnic area. Love the Italian BBQ.
There is a strong preservation culture and while I kept my eyes open for these critters all I got to see were dung beetles.
After climbing for some 6km’s or about 2 1/2 hours I had made it to the alpine meadow which was near the highpoint of today’s walk. Tranquil, picnic blanket required but not today.
I start a slow descent through Birch forests on some great tracks and some tricky slippery steep ones but the scenery remained inspiring.
After a km or so, the walk opened up with amazing vistas of the Valnerina (Valley of River Nera), little did I realise at the time I would descend to the bottom.
I really did feel in the wild in this terrain. No mobile coverage but fortunately Glonass satellite coverage remained for my maps.
Good progress being made – first time I see A Ceselli sign
I was nearing Sensati, a village abandoned in the 1950’s (I am amazed people lived here).
The walk was picture perfect in places. Shortly after the vistas really opened up again.
There were some great views down to distant villages. For the next 5km’s I descended rapidly down loose rock paths mainly before hitting the tarmac. It’s hard on the feet mainly as they take the load of balancing but it remained spectacular – all focus though is on getting down safely.
Once I hit the road, we passed through tranquil farmland as I descend the last 5km to Caselli through god’s country.
The via Rome track symbol.
The first little hamlet I passed through; in the background the mountain I went over.
Now this little stream began in the mountain, I walk over it an hour ago. I was amazed to see brown trout swimming up it here. I tried to get a photo but the smallest change of light and they dart for cover. I generally followed this stream for the next 20kms’s through to Arrone where it had grown to the Nera river. It was flowing rapidly and the sound of the water and landscape made this such a serene place to me. If I had been a monk, I think Cesseli or further down the Nera would have been my selection.
A view of Ceselli, 130 people living in tranquillity.
It was 130 and I had made good time so I found a spot on the Nera river and had my fabulous panini for lunch listening to the rapidly flowing river.
Walk to Arrone
After the steep climb and decent this morning, the first sign I see to Arrone does not excite. But I settle down and enjoy the walk along Valnerina. It was mainly farming land but as I got closer to Arrone, the valley tightened and ancient castles and fortifications became more prominent.
The castle at Procetto is a sister hamlet to Ferentillo just across the river. Between them they had the valley covered.
Ferentillo castle being restored
As anyone knows who has been reading my blog I just love Pomegranates, particularly those I can pluck for free. This one was amazing. I felt like Dracula.
I was getting close to Arrone now. This farm was well kept and if you are going to have a tractor then this is the one to get.
I arrived in Arrone after 9 hours of walking. I set a new record today at 60,000 steps. It was a lovely walk and one I will forever remember.
And the castle, just above the hotel was a treat tonight.
And tomorrows walk
Now tomorrow is interesting. Only short at 14km’s but includes a visit to a Roman waterfall at Cascara della Marmore and ends at Piediluco on the lake.
And Don’t Forget the Good Cause
In honour of the great work Black Dog institute are doing in helping many families, corporate organisations and communities create awareness and support to deal with the pressures of life, I am raising money for this important cause.
No amount is too small. Donate here.
If interested, you can read a daily debrief of my walk and see some pics on my blog: www.youcanlive2.com
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Ciao till tomorrow.