Our first full day here & we decided to travel up from Sarnano into the mountains & follow the well trodden hikers trail. The mountains take their name from a legend that one of the sibyls (the mythological prophetesses) hid there in a cave when she was chased out of the Underworld.
Driving up the mountain was a little hairy! In the photo you can see a portion of the road. We climbed & climbed & the views were spectacular but we were up very high.. Barb & Tilly – you woudn’t have liked it lol! As we drove through the Meta Pass we saw a couple of ski fields abandoned at the moment in the absence of snow but it won’t be long before both the snow and skiiers arrive!
Bolognola (which is the highest town in Le Marche & founded in the 13th century) was the first town we came across. It was a lovely sleepy little place & we tossed up whether to do a 14 km walk but decided we didn’t really have the time if we wanted to drive the whole route & we definitely made the right decision given what we experienced in the day. We found another great walk that was only 1.5 hours in a loop.. so off we set. We walked about 1km & came across a group of 5 or so men on the track who started gabbling away at us in Italian. When we told him we spoke English, he advised that the walk was closed due to them catching a wild animal which in fact was a Chamonix. They have been recently trying to boost the numbers of these goat like animals & have been quite successful. So .. onto Plan C… drive to Fiastro where there is a man made lake & hopefully undertake another walk.
The lake (Lago del Fiastrone) is stunning – an amazing shade of aqua. We walked about 1 hour of that 4 hour walk. Being lunch time at the end we decided a picnic by the lake was the call of the day.. so I called into a bar to see if I could buy a bottle of beer… well not only did I score a bottle, but the lady opened it & gave me two plastic cups.. all for €2.5
We found a terrific spot by the lake with a beautiful backdrop & enjoyed our picnic of meats, cheeses and tomatoes & made all the better with the beer! We were the only people there. Obviously the place must burst during the busy summer months but now.. very very quiet. The downside of this is that not everything is open.
So onward we travelled through some beautiful landscape.. rolling lush green countryside patchworked by various crops/ploughed land etc. We reached a lovely stone village called Pievebovigliana which has been beautifully restored.. all blond type bricks etc. not a sole in sight though. Occasionally you could hear voices drifting out of windows but no one to be seen.. quite eerie actually.
After a lovely walk around we headed off for Visso. But we definitely took a wrong road somewhere. It started out ok but then deteriorated rapidly. The quality of the road went from tarred to major potholed & eroded dirt road which was only wide enough for one car. It ran through the most amazing countryside however & on the top of the range, we found a lonely church… basically in the middle of nowhere! It didn’t go for too long & eventually met up with the regular road thank goodness & we didn’t see another sole on the road thank goodness!
We liked Visso. It reminded me of Lucca in that the architecture was mostly stuccoed buildings in various colours. The church was amazing. They have obviously been doing some research work & found some amazing frescoes under the plaster. The ceiling was also beautiful. We wandered the streets and laneways & grabbed our first gelato on the way back to the car..
It was then a long drive along to the walled town of Castellucio
which is mostly famous for its position which is at the head of the Piano Grande.. a plain that stretches for 10 km. It was completely devoid of trees & was the most amazing sight… completely different from the verdant green fields and tree lined mountains that we had passed. Travelling from the plain towards the tallest mountain in central Italy, Mount Vettore, we spotted a number of sky divers. They were so close to us, we were almost expecting to hear a thud on our car roof symbolising someone had landed.
After more magnificent mountainous scenery we arrived at Montemonaco.. a great example of what had been a walled hill top town. We thoroughly enjoyed our wanderings there and finished with a drink overlooking an amazing view.
It was then a straight run towards home where we showered and changed for dinner. Not really understanding the difference between bars and cafes etc we pulled into a place hoping to grab a pizza or the like. The only tables out the front were taken so we were ushered to the back which the owner described as “the cave” which was basically a room out the back (where he had to turn on the light to accommodate us) carved out of stone. We sat down & smelt the stale air! We just looked at each other & decided one drink would get us out of there. We then ended up finding a terrific pizzeria where we enjoyed our pizzas immensely. It was then time to head “home”, attend to email etc. & hit the sack.. exhausted again.