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Ascent from Campolungo to the Pietra di Bismantova

Eight walks inspired by The Divine Comedy

The Pietra di Bismantova, recalled by Dante in Canto IV of The Purgatorio (see walk number 5) is a highly-distinctive and solitary monolith rising up amidst the hills running down from the Apennines towards the Emilian plain. This route takes you first to the panoramic cacume, that is the highest point on the edge of the cliff-face, and then skirts round the mountain along quiet mule-tracks that run along the foot of the mountain.
On the main road to Campolungo you can see the red and white signs of the Spallanzani footpath; these signals take you uphill along a poorly-maintained surfaced road. Soon afterwards, turn right off the asphalt road onto a track that climbs amidst extensive fields used for pasture. This track joins an unpaved road leading to Fontana Cornia; go right along this, and soon afterwards turn off to the left along the marked footpath that runs across the eastern slopes of the Pietra di Bismantova. When you reach a significant junction, go left along the clear path that runs beneath the massive, vertical cliff-face of the Pietra.

From here on the route is very clear, first along a footpath and then on an unsurfaced road. This finally joins a surfaced road; go right along this and it climbs to a car park. Take the stone steps that lead up to a wide piazza in front of the hermitage, an interesting building embedded in the rock of the Pietra di Bismantova. Go left from the piazza, joining a wide mule-track that begins to skirt round the western spur of the mountain. After a long, almost level stretch, the mule-track begins to climb until it reaches a grassy plateau. Go right here and follow the twisting path up to the high plateau. Crossing this you come to the edge of the cliff-face of the Pietra di Bismantova. Here you can see the beautiful panoramic path that runs along the crest of the mountain near the cliff edge. Sticking to the main path, you soon begin to descend till you come to a wide mule-track. Turn right and continue downhill, and the track gradually becomes a cart-track. Be on the lookout for a left-hand bend that heads towards some farm buildings. Three hundred metres before these buildings, go right along the narrow mule-track that leads to the Spallanzani footpath. This takes you back downhill to Campolungo.

Time required 2 hours, 30 minutes
Vertical height 410 m
Maps   Multigraphic 1:25.000, no. 14/16 "Appennino Toscoemiliano"
How to get there Campolungo can be reached from Reggio Emilia along the SS. 63 for the Passo del Cerreto in the direction of Castelnovo ne' Monti. Shortly before arriving in Castelnovo, follow the road signs and you soon arrive at Campolungo.
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Text and picture: Cinzia Pezzani & Sergio Grillo
Translation: Jeremy Carden


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