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Saturday, May 6, 2017

May Day in the Mountains near Rome, with Italians: The 12-hour Story

Dianne and I occasionally enjoy hiking with an Italian hiking group; we can get farther out of Rome and more deeply into mountains than with our scooter.  There are at least three hiking groups operating out of Rome. On the May 1 (Labor Day) national holiday, we hooked up with Centomilapassi (a hundred thousand steps), a relative newcomer to the species, and headed by a couple: Domenico and his French-born partner, Evelina (we knew she had an accent in Italian, but we hadn't pegged it as French; she told us she was French "cento per cento" (100%)).  Both were solid hikers.  Although most of the groups we have hiked with have included a few English speakers, this one was, with the exception of a moment or two, Italian-speaking. 

We thought it would be useful, and perhaps interesting, to narrate the adventure, start to finish, to give our readers the scope of the day-long endeavor.  Most of the narrative is presented under the photos, but parts of it we didn't photograph.

6:15 a.m.  Wake up and put on hiking clothes, already laid out.  Pack backpacks with lunch, sufficient water, remember hiking sticks.  Turn on coffee pot (all set), down a quick cup of coffee.
6:45           Leave apartment, take scooter 15 minutes to Piazza dell'Independenza.  Walk 1/4 mile to Termini to get the Metro for Anagnina, the last station south on the A-line.
7:30           Arrive Anagnina, with instructions to turn right and go through the underpass to a gas station on the other side of the multi-lane highway.  We are the first ones there.

The bar next to the gas station (where the group really will meet up).
  Outdoor elegance. Real Italian coffee and a cornetto.  

Others arrive.  The group uses private autos/ride sharing.
That's Fabrizio, our 'pilota' (driver), and Patrizia, who will be the
fourth passenger in the customary small car.

The various cars drive south on the A24 for about an hour.
The group meets here, on a wide circle - basically the autostrada off-ramp,
 for all the cars to arrive.  We're headed for the far center of the Lepini Mountains,
visible at right.  

Hiking groups always stop at a bar for coffee and bathroom
break.  It's about 9.a.m.

After a ride through a town and into the heart of the Lepini Mountains,
on a road cut from rock in places - hugging the vertical side of the
mountains, with hairpin curves - we arrive at a large parking lot.  It looks basic
 but below, in an enormous grass field, there's a swing set and slide.
And of course, the large prato/vallone ("meadow/valley") has the requisite
grazing cows and horses.  The sound of the tinkling of the bells on the cows
 will carry up the mountains.

Hike begins up the first of two mountains, Monte Gemma. There are 13 of us.
It's 9:45 a.m. 

Near the summit of Monte Gemma, we come upon a woman
and her poodle.  

Almost every mountain in Catholic Italy has a cross.  This one's on Monte Gemma.  The view is southeast, toward the valley leading to Cassino.  We can see straight south, across the plain of the Ciociaria, a region beloved by urbanites and the setting for the famous Sophia Loren film, "La Ciociara," as well as across the "pontina" (Pontine plain) to the Mediterranean Ocean, with the Circeo cliff barely visible through some haze.  The view here is of at least 4 sets of mountain ranges.

Coming down off of Gemma, with our next mountain, Monte Malaina,
directly in front of us.  And down we went, below the level of our cars.
One of our hiking slogans is "what goes down must go up," and so it was.

Up the very steep side of Monte Malaina.  1400 feet vertical
without a pause.  One of the tougher stretches we've done (as in ever).

Dianne on Malaina.  The first mountain we climbed, Mt.
Gemma, is back right.  Our cars are parked in the valley just behind Dianne.

Summit of Malaina, about 4900 feet above sea level. It's cold up there.  This sturdy hiker in front, Domenico's dog, "Trek," gets lunch craps from everyone.  We meet some people Domenico knows.  They have two children with them: one 3 years old, the other about 1, both with tiny hiking boots and clearly acclimated to the mountains.

Domenico helps the 3-year old down the mountain.  "Trek"
free-lanced the whole day, sometimes out of sight.  Chased
some horses at one point.  

Back at the parking lot.  Total distance: 9-10 miles.
Total vertical: about 2550 feet.   There are children on the swing set.
That's Dominico and Evelina sitting on their rear bumper, Fabrizio at right.
Everyone is changing boots to shoes - it's bad form not to have
 clean shoes to wear in the car.
And back at Bar Michelangelo (you never go straight home) for
drinks - usually beers -  and settling up.  The cost for both of us, which
includes a year membership in the group, is E50--about $55.
We will also share the cost of gas and tolls--E15 for the two of us - a good deal.
Everyone kisses everyone on the cheek goodbye and says "alla prossima" -
to the next one (hike)! 
Then, we reverse our trip: back into the car, ride back to the Anagnina station (opera on the radio), take Metro A 15 stops from Anagnina to Termini, walk to the moto, drive to our apartment in Salario.

7:00 p.m.  Back home.


1 comment:

Richard Peterson said...

Very impressive fitness!