There’s a big difference between spending the night in a bed and spending a night on the ground. This is what comes to mind as I wake up from a good night’s sleep at Refuge della Calla. Today we are headed towards Passo del Muraglione are we are finally blessed with bright warm sunshine. We take the 00 G.E.A. footpath which leaves from the right of the refuge. The path initially goes up and runs parallel to the road. After about 1.5kms, the path comes out at Pratoni della Burraia which are used as beginners’ ski slopes in the Winter. We pass Poggio Lastaiolo, Poggio Sodo dei Conti and then arrive on the grassy summit of Monte Falco (1658m) which offers an incredible panoramic view of the next part of the day’s walk in the Mugello woods. We follow the footpath along the mountain ridge up onto Monte Falterona, mentioned by Dante in Canto XIV of the Purgatorio.
At this point we have two options for reaching today’s goal, both G.E.A. signed footpaths. We can continue towards the village of Castagno di Andrea (720m), going down to San Godendo (490m) and then back up to Passo del Muraglione (907m). Alternatively, we could go round Monte Falterona towards the Fontanelle Refuge and then take the ridge-top footpath which leads straight to the pass. Despite the wonderful scenery of the first option, we chose the second because there are fewer hills to climb.
Our stride is longer and we seem to cover more ground on the level ridge-top path. We are able to have a drink and re-fill our water bottles at the Fontanelle Refuge and from here we move onto the Alpine Path (Sentiero Alpino) which is a short cut compared to the forest route. We pass through pretty woodland and even see a few deer. From Poggio di Giogo the path becomes easier and the wonderful scenery makes the walk fly by. In ancient times, this path in the Apennines was used exclusively as a mule track for trade. In 1836 the road was widened to allow carriages to pass and the wall that the pass takes its name from (Passo ‘Muraglione’) was built to protect travellers from the strong winds.
Unfortunately, the worst of the wind today is caused by all the motorbikes that roar down the road. Our walk for the day should finish here and we stop for a picnic. However, we soon decide to push onto a more characteristic place to spend the night where the sound of traffic isn’t so loud.
We plunge back into the woods and walk for another two hours towards Casaglia. Soon the shadows are getting longer and it seems that sleeping in the tent is going to be our best option. Luck is with us though as we come across a road and stop a couple in a car for advice on where to stay nearby. They tell us to go to Greta’s – at the end of the white stone road. If we’re lucky, they say, we’ll get there in time for dinner!
Our map shows us that we are in Passo di Val Capriglia and that we had noted down Greta’s as a possible stopping point. The white stone road winds through a lovely valley full of chestnut trees and stream, we even spot two more deer. Before long we reach the end of the road and find ourselves in front of a renovated farm house.
The chances that we’d spend the evening eating excellent paella cooked by a Spanish guy and listening to Venetian folk songs played on a violin with a group who’ve been travelling for three months with a horse and carriage were very slim. You never know where you’re going to end up.