Walking In The Sacred Forest

Saturday, September 10, 2022, Camaldoli to Badia Prataglia

Projected Elevation Gain: 2139, Elevation Loss: 949, 11 miles

Today we walked through the forest, Sacre Foreste to be specific – ultimately ending in a lovely resort town. We walked uphill for a good couple of miles, but then our path gave us more trade offs of the ups and downs. We had two “summits” in today’s climb. We also had a very steep downhill that was quite rocky and required a lot of attention to each step. We were surrounded by majestic beech trees and gradually descended into oak and pine trees.

We had a bit of a hold up after about twenty minutes into our walk when we realized three of our party were not with us. Giovanni ran back down the steep pitch, all the way back to the monastery, down the steep pitch we had just labored up! He joined us back only to declare no sign of the others. Ultimately we had communication and found they traversed the original way, which had been closed given a recent landslide. That route is 3 kilometers shorter and much steeper. They arrived to the “Ermitage” (see below) nearly an hour before we did.

One of the places of interest was Rifugio Cotozzo, a stone shelter with a simple table , fireplace and bench inside.

Another place we spent considerable time at was Hermitage of Camaldoli built by the Benedictine Monk, San Rumualdo. Romualdo was the founder of the Camaldolese order and a major figure in the eleventh-century “Renaissance of eremitical asceticism”. Romuald spent about 30 years traversing Italy, founding and reforming monasteries and hermitages. Here we had a tour in Italian, but Giovanni was great to translate for us. And then we enjoyed our lunches on the grounds before heading out again just as it started to rain. We all put our gear on yet the showers ended up being brief. (And that GPS picture notes mileage of 7.6 yet my real time Apple Watch recorded 11 miles).

“The Hermitage of Camaldoli, in the province of Arezzo, in Italy, was founded in 1023 by Romualdo, Benedictine abbot, in a clearing called Campo di Maldolo. Camaldoli is the last romualdina foundation, where the monk, who then became a saint, organized a group of hermits with the norm of “fasting, silence and remaining in the cell”. Today six monks live in Camaldoli. Their cells, and the other 14 empty ones, are not open to the public, but that of the founder is.

The chiesa del Salvatore, with its two towers, is presented not as it was consecrated in 1027, but as it is after the restoration carried out between 1708 and 1714.

The interior is richly decorated in rococo style, it houses a painting that is said to be by Bronzino (Angelo di Cosimo 1503-1572) and a glazed terracotta attributed to Luca Della Robbia (1435-1525): the Virgin with Child, Mary Magdalen, St. Romuald, John the Baptist and St. Anthony. For sure the remarkable deco frescoes, in the chapel of S. Antonio Abate, are by Adolfo Rollo (1898-1985) who finished them between the end of 1931 and the following year; the ancient portal of the hermitage was replaced in 2013 with the bronze door of Claudio Parmiggiani (Luzzara, 1943): the Porta Speciosa, the inside of which, on six panels that recall the pages of an open book, the virtues of the solitary life are engraved, derived from those attributed to seven different arboreal species.” (num-review.com)

And as the day progressed and we were less than a mile from our lodging we ended up stopping at a bar where there was some dude festivities going on with intoxicated bros belly bumping and hugging and lifting each other up. It was crazy! I was none too happy to stop after such a long and hard day and given how close we were to finishing, yet having an indoor bathroom was a nice opportunity versus the “green door”.

Our lodging had lots of people there and dinner was a crowded affair! We had an amazing venison entrée, and a lovely tiramisu for dessert!

“The resort town of Badia Prataglia traces its roots back to the early 11th century with the establishment of its monastery, of which the town’s Parish Church dedicated to Santa Asunta and Saint Bartholomew, is the last remaining evidence. Although the exterior of the church appears modern, 20th century remodeling revealed architectural features from its 11th and 12th century roots, particularly it’s crypt which was discovered in restored in 1910. Badia Prataglia is filled with vacation homes and hotels that serve part-time residents and visitors who want to enjoy the beauty of the Castentitino National Forest.

There was a fireworks display at 11. I never did see the fireworks, but I saw a full moon looking for them! I had been asleep but the Big Bangs woke me up! Happy end of summer!

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