Map: Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona e Campigna – trail CAI n.233
Trail type: out and back
Elevation: about 600 m climb
Lenght: 8 km return
Duration: 3-3,5 h to S. P. in Alpe – 5-6 h return
Last Saturday’s mugginess didn’t prevent us from hiking to San Paolo in Alpe from Idro Museum in Ridracoli. We were with a couple of friends, one of which had just completed a survival course, so we had a lot to talk about on the way. Not that we had so much breath to talk, though: the walk itself was not difficult, but the heat was setting in. Anticyclone “Charon” , the 14 km return and the 600 climb .
Trail CAI n.233 begins with a short flat stretch, then merges with a paved road that runs along Rio Bacine. We followed the road for 500 m then took the trail on the right back into the trees, with a steep climb which helped us get into our stride.
Along the way we encountered some ruins, a Virgin Mary in Majesty and a centuries-old oak . The environment was mainly mixed wood with a few passages through pine wood. Whenever we had to walk through a bare spot, we hurried up so that we could be in the shadow again. Cicadas were around us all the time with their deafening call. Although this trail is mainly in the shadow, in the summer you need at least one and a half liter of water each…and a slow pace. We took our time and instead of 5 hours as stated in the signs, it took us 6 hours return.
The last leg was a long switchback, then we came in sight of the ghost village of San Paolo in Alpe, once a partisan base and surrounded by a wonderful scenery. Coming out of the wood we still couldn’t see the cattle, yet we could smell them. We were relieve to find out the bull was not around. The sign warning of its presence was also gone. It was almost midday and in the sunlit pasture land there were no animals, neither domestic, nor wild. Quite unusual for that place, which is famous because the chances to spot wild animals are close to 100 %. Most of the time, it’s easy to see ungulates grazing not far from the cattle on the meadows of San Paolo in Alpe. It was the weird promiscuity of deer with their fellow ruminants that prompted us to go back there once again to take some wildlife pictures.
After eating our packed lunch we took a nap under the two huge poplars behind the tumbledown church. We were tired and sweaty but it was worth it: the cool breeze on the plateau felt so refreshing. And suddenly our reward showed up: two differently coloured fallow deer were crossing the meadow between the ruins of the old farmhouse and the wood. They stayed long enough for us to grab binoculars and camera. I knew that: if you want to se deer in the wild, in San Paolo in Alpe you can never go wrong!