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Skiing round the Apennine hermitages

The monasteries and hermitages that can be visited by skiing cross-country are necessarily limited to those located at higher altitudes, where there is a sufficiently long period of snow. The following ones have also been chosen with a view to the beauty of the natural setting, so as to achieve a fascinating blend of architecture, history, religion and the natural environment.
In winter the hermitage of Casella can only be reached by ski, via two routes of varying difficulty which run along the ridge of the Alpe di Catenaia. Often, when there is heavy snowfall, the hermitage of Camaldoli is also cut off, but can be reached by ski along two routes of splendid natural beauty in the National Park.
The itinerary to La Verna is fascinating from an historical and architectural point of view, but it also takes in the interesting forest surrounding the hermitage, situated on the slopes of Monte Penna. As for the abbey of Vallombrosa, there are two particularly interesting routes: one goes through the Foresta Demaniale, the other runs along the panoramic ridge of Pratomagno. The routes to the hermitage of S. Alberigo and to the monastic complex of Celle, both of which can only be reached by ski in winter, run across the isolated, wooded slopes of Monte Fumaiolo. And finally, we cannot forget the Romagna Toscana, a portion of Tuscany that stretches administratively beyond the Apennines and is perhaps the area most “suited”to the monastic life. Unfortunately the relatively low altitude of this stretch of the Apennines is such that just two itineraries are possible. On the first one, which goes to the Badia di Moscheta, the snow is sufficiently long-lasting if you do the route along the ridge between Passo del Gioge and the Colla di Casaglia. The second, which goes to the Romiti hermitage, must be attempted during the coldest part of the year. This is not only because the altitude is relatively low but also, indeed above all, because it involves crossing the Acqua Cheta mountain stream (source of the celebrated namesake waterfalls) a number of times. Although there is not much water in it during winter, it is best to find it frozen.

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Text and picture: Cinzia Pezzani & Sergio Grillo
Translation: Jeremy Carden


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