A glorious day for a glorious hike. Was time to venture a little into the Sibillini Mountains and get my hiking boots on. I love hikes in the mountains as you know and I especially love beautiful hikes that take in some quirky history coupled with stunning backdrops. This walk, starting from near Montefortino, Le Marche, Italy, is a perfect walk and climb for all ages. And a very memorable one at that!
Even from the car park the sight of the Sibillini mountain range already gives you a sense of great views to come. But the great views do not alone belong to wide open vistas. First, you need to head through literally a small gap in the mountains.. The Gorge dell’Infernaccio (approximately translating to -The Throat of Hell).
Right near the beginning of the walk you see it all, the pathway leading in between the mountains with the church/hermitage peaking out of the trees way up top right. Will let you know more on that of course later on below..
From the car park it is a lovely tree-lined walk towards the gorge and the riverside. It was there you could see ahead why this is very much a totally safe and great Spring/Summer hike. In Winter though an avalanche had come down and changed the course of the path completely, or rather buried it!
Here you join the river. Such a clear river that cuts right through this great mountain range. The gap gets narrower too but with a natural way through somehow.
Eventually, just as it gets thin enough to just walk through you appear out the other side. This river has carved over millions of years, a way through, once thought to be the only easy way in ancient times through the Appennines.
After passing through the narrow gorge it open up into the steady zigzag of a climb upwards. Not too steep and as you climb away from the river you become surrounded by a sea of green from the Beech trees and more. The variety keeps on coming. Up and up and up, till suddenly the ground clears, and there before you is the Hermitage of San Leonardo. A remarkable spot for such a building, high above the valley, in amongst the mountains.
So, why is such a building here? 1128 m above sea level, and the pathway up of about an hour/hour and a half the only real access. Well there was until not too long ago here, the ruins of an ancient benedictine Monastery, that then had became a Hermitage. There were signs that shepherds and those passing through the mountains may have stopped over here over hundreds of years. In the 1970s, a priest (Peter Lavin) found the ruins and stayed there a hermit himself. But also he began construction of the chapel you see today.
The pathway up here then became a go-to for not just church goers but hikers too of course. Only last year did the priest leave this place and his hermit life. But that doesn’t stop people of all ages taking the delightful walk up here. I could see it was a popular spot for family picnics etc after an easy toil up.
Alas it was time to head back down, but with heading the other way the views still kept on coming and coming.
Back to the river.. back into the Gorge dell’Infernaccio, over the remains of the avalanche and head for some wonderful local food, lots of it, well deserved.