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.