Friday, September 9, 2022
Stia to Camaldoli
16.6 km, 10.3 miles. Elevation gain: 2,982 feet. Elevation loss: 1,742 feet
- more or less…
After gathering on the town square (which is actually a rectangle) for photos and to drop bags, we were off for day 4. As for dropping bags – there is a van available to us each day to transport up to forty pounds of luggage we don’t need in our day packs. There are twelve of us trekking together – eight from Washington State, two from Australia and two from the UK, all having a variety of plans before and/or after so having personal items not necessary for trekking. I am walking with the full size pack I have used on my previous pilgrimages, however I did humble myself and instead of ditching my airplane oversized purse and Jean jacket, I decided to put those in the van along with my extra “evening” clothes (a dress, blouse, leggings, flats and two scarves) which I really haven’t needed, and some supplements. With all the uphills, I am actually quite happy for the service!! And our driver is incredibly friendly, knowledgeable and speaks great English! Mauro Cappelletti is part of our team joining us for dinner and is so genuinely sweet and helpful!
Another beautiful day for trekking greeted us as we climbed steadily out of Stia into forests of beech and pine.
At just under 2 miles we came to an archeological site of the “Etruscan Settlement of Masseto, located next to the boundaries of Foreste Casentinesi National Park, along an ancient road which linked Etruria to Northern Italy, later known as “via Dei Legni (“Wood Way). Archaeological excavations, conducted between 1985 and 2001, brought to life the remains which testify a long history of this place: from the dawn of the Etruscan civilization and the 10th century BC until the end of the Medieval age, when the inhabitants re-adapted the ancient structures. Masseto represents one of the rare sites in Casentino where building structures from a Etruscan times are still preserved. These are both dwelling structures and funerary buildings, as shown by the ruins of a chamber tomb. Two out of four documented buildings can freely be visited in the small archaeological area located at little distance: following the indications it is possible to see the Etruscan chamber tomb and a stone enclosure related to a dwelling. Selected finds recovered during the excavations are exposed at the Archaeological Museum of Casentino at Bibbiena.” (information taken from the sign posted at the access trail.)
The day spent in an Italian forest was extremely pleasant being in the shade and surrounded by greenery and beauty as far as the eye could behold. Not the Tuscan hillside beauty of yesterday, but wooded lushness. Not so different from home in the Pacific Northwest. However, we did continue to have considerable hills to ascend. Definitely more gradual, winding inclines than the other days, and in the shade – but ongoing nonetheless.
We stopped for lunch prearranged by Giovanni at Rifugio Asqua. Such a lovely farmhouse in the woods, five kilometers from our destination. They had three beautiful dogs, the owners saying that they are Alsatian bred with wolf. And as it turns our, our van driver Mauro, came to lunch and was amazed to find out the proprietor is the author of a book he has cherished since he was a young boy – of his true experiences adopting a wolf pup. I know the story is much more involved, and there’s a second as well, I will have to do my research when I get home – but the one dog that was howling much of the time we were there for lunch, is a third generation of the original wolf. It was a very moving story to hear of Mauro’s interest and his happenstance to dine with a family creating this big connection!! One of the dogs was also a beautiful Malamute.
Our lunch WAS AMAZING – vegetable, lentil soup, polenta and roasted vegetables, a most delicious almond dessert and a wine from their region.
Refreshed, we hit the trail again for our last steep ascent before joining a little used road for a walk through the clouds along the ridge line. The road descended through primordial forest delivering us to Foresteria del Monastero di Camaldoli.
For over 1000 years monks have called Camaldoli their home. A shop is available to purchase their soaps and medicinal herbs. It’s a small curve in the road of additional shops and restaurants as well – and I picked up some cigars (highly recommended by guide Giovanni) for Handsome Hubby.
We had our evening St Francis story told by Sandy and then dinner of bread, pasta soup, steamed broccoli & an artichoke empanada. And now it’s ff to bed! within the cool walls of this monastery.