Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Eremo Colle San Marco, dayhike above Ascoli Piceno

5 Marzo, 2013    Eremo Colle San Marco hike
This is a nice little hike above Ascoli Piceno which one could complete in a couple of hours or spend half a day exploring around the hill and forest where this little hideaway is located.
Here's the explanatory placque at the little church in Piagge where you can start the hike.  Otherwise, drive all the way up to the cemetery and park and walk around said cemetery to the right where you will find the trail leading up to the fork below.

Head left and in just a few minutes you will arrive at the beautiful arched stairway which leads into the little monastery.

This was built 8 hundred years ago, which makes it all the more impressive.  Obviously subsequent works have been done to make the whole thing safer so we can still visit today.

View of the bell tower and the facade which the old Benedictine monks built to close in the grotto.

and another with the imposing cliffs above and below

Alessandra, Bacco and Pippo behind her getting ready to climb the stairway to Eremo Colle San Marco.
The next set of stairs seem to be cut into the rock face as a tunnel of sorts, pictures from below and above.

Maidenhair ferns grow from the grotto and add a bit of hominess to the otherwise spartan hermitage.

Views down to the valley of the Tronto river with Ascoli Piceno, its main city.

An altar

Views of the northern Sibillini mountains.  This is prime real estate!

A nice view of Ascoli Piceno and Mt. Ascensione above

No, the dogs did not desecrate in any way, the grotto.

The final stairway to the grotto where you saw the altar, ferns, etc in the above photos.

One of the few symbols which has not vanished beneath the modern vandals ink.

A view of the calanchi (erosive formations) to the north of Ascoli Piceno.

Some of the monks' works remain on the stone walls, although much faded.

Time to say goodbye to the twin-arched "Tiam" structure.
From Ascoli, head up towards Colle San Marco to the south.  You will pass a nice osteria called C'era una volta and later reach the little town of Piagge.  Just before exiting the town, you will see a little brown sign on your right with a sharp right turn to get up to the little church of San Bartolomeo where you can park and read the sign above in either italian or english before taking the trail to the left of the church up to the cemetery.  You can save a couple of hundred meters climbing if you park instead at the cemetery.  Either way, the trail starts to the right of the enclosed cemetery and not to the left which also has a well marked road but is posted as private property.  The climb is easy and takes 15 minutes or a bit more and is well marked.  

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