Episode 3: Recap, Bacco and I have tried 3 hikes on 3 separate Sundays and have become 'lost' each time, 1st week-20 minutes, 2nd week-30 minutes and this week-75 minutes!
Today we crossed the border into Abruzzo and the twin brother park to the Monti Sibillini in the Marche called Monti della Laga. The book about the hikes is in italian and is called le piu' belle escursioni or the prettiest hikes, by Alesi, Calibani and Palermi. I chose hike 6 named the forest of the fable which begins in the little town of Quintodecimo (which sort of translates as 'half a town') better known for its autovelox (fixed radar camera which will catch you if you are driving more than 50km/hr.) The town is about 40 minutes from Nascondiglio di Bacco on the Salaria or ancient roman salt road which served as the prime means of transporting salt from Rome to present day Porto dAscoli.
The sentiero or trail follows the river Noce Andreana into a series of "V" shaped valleys past some picturesque waterfalls and finishing at a grotto with a veil of water in front and a pair of old stone buildings beneath the outcropping.
You park in the town in a little plaza by a church and immediately head up a series of stairs which lead you to the last house in town and a gravelly road which you will follow for about a mile past the locals' gardens, little vineyards and stalls. The book tells you "where the road ends and you find a cement bridge, the real trail begins and heads off to the left". That's all fine and was probably that way in 2005 when the book was written, but now the road does not end there. Luckily, my intuition and the cement bridge encouraged me to take a path to the left which has a Monti della Laga national park sign in front of it, and indeed, that is the correct way. See below.
After a pretty nice little climb, you arrive at the first waterfall, which when you have a trusty sidekick flat coat retriever along, will be explored, pools will be entered and thirst sated, not to mention photos snapped. This can be your downfall as from the pool just beneath the falls,
you naturally want to continue the hike from a level which is above the correct trail and nature has provided a little alternative trail which perfectly conforms to the description in the book (a bit smaller and covered with leaves). Bacco and I trekked the next 75 minutes into a side canyon along another of those infamous wild boar trails (very well maintained, I might add) and probably ended up on top of Mt. Ungino where we found an old apparatus which must have been used by loggers to lower the huge logs down the steep hill with intact cables, rotting timbers anchor trees long since dead, etc.
We made our own trail back down and I am not saying I didn't have a grand old time exploring this hidden area, but it is a bit hairy hanging on to trees while you descend a steep slope with no bearings. Anyway, having been born "testardo", inheriting stubbornness from my father, I was determined to finish the real hike. I found the 1st waterfall and then found the trail we had used to arrive, whereupon it was really easy to see the correct trail veering off to the right and 10 meters below the infamous false trail. From there it is just 20 minutes up to the very nice little cascata with its little sheltering cave behind.
If you don't mess up, the ascent should take an hour and 15 minutes to slightly longer and the descent 55 minutes or a bit more depending on your pace. Not a bad hike at all for a morning or afternoon jaunt. Bacco enjoyed the water and I enjoyed the topography, the dense forest and the isolation as we were once again the only ones on the trail.
The area seemed to have zones similar to those in MO with karst structures although I saw no sinkholes or arches. Take lots of water and a snack in case you want to audition for the next "Lost" episode from Abruzzo.