From Barco to Palazzuolo sul Senio
Campana, together with Sibilla, reached Casetta di Tiara after crossing the splendid Val d'Inferno. He returned to Marradi alone it seems, on foot, passing through Palazzuolo sul Senio. His rambling nature allowed him to appreciate the sun-drenched heights, the wood-covered valleys, the white sandstone and the green pastures of the Apennines, the hidden hamlets and isolated mountain homes that once were abandoned but today have been restored to their ancient rustic splendour.
The route we suggest takes 11 hours to cover. For this reason it is best to divide it into two excursions stopping in Palazzuolo sul Senio, which is roughly half way, for the night.
1) From Barco to Palazzuolo sul Senio
Introductory and technical notes
The itinerary is a synthesis of the best this corner of the Apennines has to offer: ancient religious retreats, (Moscheta Abbey, Acquadalto Santuary), mountain towns that have maintained their original architecture (Casetta di Tiara, Campanara), tens of isolated historical farm estates, geological and natural wonders (in particular Valle dell'Inferno and the sandstone stratification in Cimon della Bastia). The elevation
gain is roughly 700 metres and the time it takes to cover the whole route goes from 7 to 8 hours on foot. It is not possible to cover this route on horseback or MTB due to the narrow and uneven trail that crosses Valle dell'Inferno.
Barco is on state road n. 503, which leads from Florence to Firenzuola, just below the Giogo Pass.
Description of the route on foot
From Barco the trail descends along the state road to Firenzuola and quickly reaches Rifredo. Here, on the right, it takes the road for Badia di Moscheta: a narrow strip of asphalt that dips towards the Veccione valley and then, on fairly level ground, to the Abbey. In front of the sacred structure the trail moves left and, keeping on the main track, crosses a pine wood that leads to a bridge. Just before the bridge a sign indicating the trail for Valle dell'Inferno (GEA and SOFT signs) can be seen. This trail, fairly wide, goes past Molino del Veccione and enters the valley. As it enters the deep crevice, the walls narrow and the layers of sand stone are visible. Once past an abandoned farm house and a series of streams, we come to Case Val d'Inferno, once an outpost and now completely abandoned but not totally in ruins. From the houses the track descends and, round a cliff, enters the Rovigo River valley. The trail meets a wider dirt road and goes straight on past the bridge on the left. It ascends and soon after leaves this road and moves left and over a foot bridge over the Rovigo River. The trail then ascends towards a group of restored houses (Porcia), which it crosses, until it reaches a wide dirt road which, rising steeply, leads to Casetta di Tiara. We pass an ancient beauty and after a series of bends through the chestnut woods reach the church of Casetta di Tiara.
From here you turn right and through a quaint mountain location. The route moves along a road that ascends through an age-old chestnut wood with some of the largest examples of this fine tree.
The route continues to ascend steeply to a chapel (an excellent rest stop set on a sunny knoll) from which it continues, less steeply this time, along thecrest. Continuing along the main route, we pass Case Mengacci and Campo Rinaldi along the way. Along this route we often see horses grazing in the wild. The road passes two groups of abandoned residences and, along a rocky tract, reaches the main crest, just under Poggio Rincaccio, where it meets route n. 701 which from the Sambuca Pass moves in the direction of Valmaggiore (the path moves along an ancient path along the mountain crest that was the main link between the Apennines and the Romagna plains up until the last century). The route goes left (follow green trail signs), without touching Poggio Roncaccio, and then arrives just under Cimon della Bastia (mentioned in the letter of September 15-17 by Aleramo). The route reaches an important crossways. We leave the main road and move right along a route that descends towards Palazzuolo sul Senio (route n. 607 CAI and n.16 SOFT). This route offers an excellent view of the Romagna mountain chain as it moves along the eastern ridges of the Cimon della Bastia, the most beautiful mountain in the area. Once past Monte Ferioli, the route descends rapidly along the so called "Scale di Lotro" until it reaches a fork. Two possible routes can be taken here: one that descends to Campanara and one that goes left, passing just above a quaint hamlet (the church in Campanara, a 14th century structure that was rebuilt in 1684, has a wonderful cusped bell-tower with two arched openings, and is situated along an ancient, probably Medieval or older, road). Continuing along this marked trail the route crosses the Monte Castellaccio di Tana side of the mountain, passing Monte dell'Incisa, and then, continuing along the crest, descends progressively until it reaches the state road just under the Santuario di Acquadalto. The paved road on the left leads back to Palazzuolo sul Senio.