So, it’s just before 8 in the morning, the sky is blue, the birds are singing, the dogs are barking and the Italian countryside awaits us.
I don my trusty pink starburst yoga pants and my all weather jacket and we hit the road for our trek of the holiday the Giro dei condotti. I’m freezing! The sky may be blue, but after 5 minutes outside, so is my face! The joys of Spring I suppose. No matter, after walking uphill at a vigorous pace I soon begin to heat up and with the sun steadily climbing the temperature starts increasing too.
Now Martin had planned this hike prior to our arrival in Spoleto, however we did hit a wee snag the day before when we realised that the bridge we needed to use (the Ponte delle Torri) was closed and had been since the earthquake in August 2016. There was a barrier across the walkway and being the completely British couple we are, we simply could not ignore the sign. Many others did and just climbed over or under the fence and we did have a laugh at ourselves at our reticence to break the rules and did the only thing we knew how, we planned another route!
We started our ascent just after 8am, taking the back road up through to the trail, stopping to enjoy the wondrous view up to the castle. We only passed a couple of women at the very start of the trail near the gorgeous San Pietro extra moenia and didn’t see anyone else until we were on our way back down nearly 2 hours later.
The hike is a gorgeous one, clearly marked for anyone who is new to hiking and following trails, you walk up through dense forest with lots of twists and turns, ancient looking tree roots and little monuments where you stack stones under the photo of a particular religious icon, we saw St Stephano, Mary and Jesus. Once you reach the top there is a convent which you can go into, just inside and to the right is a beautiful grotto dedicated to Mary with flowers on either side that I thought was just lovely.
Inside the convent you can see tiny rooms dating back to the 13th century, there were other doors leading to who knows what, but they were closed when we were in, maybe we were too early, or the nuns saw me in my workout pants and barred the door!
We had a nosey around the grounds and filled our water bottle from the fountain. As we’d climbed 800 metres we expected to find some viewing points, but they weren’t easy to find within the treeline, however I’m not one to pass on a possible epic photo and finding a path to the left of the convent I spotted the perfect place that many may miss if they don’t really search for it. After talking a few (a lot) of photos and peeking inside one of the shrines, we headed back down to the Ponte delle Torre to get on the other trail that would take us back down to lower Spoleto.
This stretch of the walk was beautiful, the views back over the bridge and castle are what I’d hoped to get photos of. The bridge itself is a marvelous architectural fete!
There were a few more people doing this part of the trail, a few runners too and to our amusement, wooden fitness apparatus dotted the trail that we just had to have a go on, so it was like being back in high school P.E. class!
The trail winds around the hill, through what looks like a private road but isn’t, and we passed by a really creepy looking tree that looks like a prop on the Blair Witch Project! Then further down the trail the little hillside city comes into view.
It is a slightly strange sight, the castle atop the hill with the traditional houses flowing down to the bottom and then there’s a motorway and bridge running through the hill directly under the castle, quite the juxtaposition!
Try the hike, you’ll definitely enjoy it!!