I had seen the red and white sign of a walking track beside the shrine at Mongiovino last week and decided that we should do that walk.
The map was found and even some walking notes, so off we went this morning confident that this year we would really enjoy the trek. The Club Alpino Italiano rated this 11 km walk as suitable for people who are very fit and athletic (maybe we were punching above our weight!). It had a 488 metre vertical climb and a suggested walk time of four hours.
We started off at the Mongiovino cemetery at 12.10 and a wide flat road lay ahead of us.
But soon things started to change. The road closed in and became a bit muddy but the signage was clear and there were blackberries to eat. The sun was shining and the temperature was pleasant.
We were following the trails of a motor bike, a horse, a man with big feet and also this ' big foot' - maybe a deer or maybe a wild boar. You expect some rough terrain on these walks, and some steep rises but this was becoming challenging.
The woods included Downy oak, heathers, vibernum, privet and Turkey oak. There was the occasional interesting plant, some butterflies and lots of green lizards.
At least we know where to find funghi, wild asparagus and truffles, even if we are not allowed to pick them!
It seemed to us that this route was all up hill and all rough, but we soldiered on merrily. We came to a major point on our map, Buca del Calcinaio, where there is the remains of an old lime burning furnace.
From here the track makes a big loop but our problem was that one map indicated walking clock-wise and the notes indicated anti clock-wise. We chose to go clock-wise and the path was steep and slippery with lots of loose rocks. Without my trekking pole I could not have done this challenging walk.
Finally we thought we had reached the top as the views were magic. We could see Panicale as we have never seen it before, we could see Lago Trasimeno and Castiglione del Lago, and in the opposite direction we could see down the Nestore Valley, and the mountains beyond in all directions.
But no, there was more up hill climbing on very rough paths.
At 2.35pm we took a short break for lunch. Kel found us a rock each to sit on (an easy task :) and we ate our cheese focaccia. Then it was onwards for us. Somewhere about here our route 15 got entangled with route 16 and we found ourselves in a reasonably civilized area so we knew we were not in the right place. Continued walking following a horse riding route got us back on track.
We knew we were back on track as the path was very steep, very rocky and very rough. By now I was really beginning to suffer. The temperature had risen too. We just had to keep at it.
Eventually we came down to some level ground and were able to increase our pace, and there was Panicale in the distance again.
The notes suggested calling in to Mongiovine Vecchio but we looked at the slope up to the old village and decided we would drive there another day.
As we made our final approach towards the Sanctuary of Mongiovino the bells broke into a long, loud and musical peel. Kel was sure they were ringing to welcome us home and celebrate our successful return.
Rounding the last bend we came to the shrine at the Sanctuary where I has first seen the red and white symbol indicating this walk.
We each had a thought: Kel looked at the B.V.M and said ' Young lady, you've got a lot to answer for here.' Mine was more along the lines of ' Hail Mary, full of grace, thanks for getting us back to this place.'
Exactly 5 hours later we were back at the car, having probably walked an extra kilometre. We drove home feeling elated that we had completed the trek in a good time and then celebrated with a nice cold beer.