Last weekend, I spent the perfect day out in nature. I live in the heart of the city center of Reggio Emilia. It does not get more central than that, from many perspectives. I am literally in the center of Italy, in the center of one of the best known food regions of Italy (Parmigiano Reggiano, Proscuitto di Parma, Aceto Balsamic... and many more you don't hear about outside Italy!), in the center of the Reggio Emilia city where it all began, in the center of the city center of Reggio Emilia. Yes, it is a very small geographic circle! Sometimes, I feel like a princess..... in a fort!
Not trapped, but in a way yes.
You see, Italy is a country for a car. You need one if you want to make good tour of it. I mean, yes, you can do the big cities and be happy with trains and God given legs, but you really don't even scratch the surface of this beautiful land that way. Get a car, pick a direction and go... stop where your heart commands, eat like an Italian and you live the experience and your life to the fullest.
I, as you know, do not drive. And, renting is not really a feasible option. So, while I have spent hours pouring on the map, listing places to see, hike, wander, eat, ... you know! Except most are a wee bit expensive or inconvenient without a vehicle. Since I got here and saw how close the mountains were (15 minutes drive!!!), I have been craving to get out. Fortunately, I found that there is one bus that cuts through the mountains, and, though it's radius of reach is limited, it would get me out of the city and flatlands into the mountains!
Off we went, a friend and I, to Castelnovo nei Monti, one of the bigger towns in the mountains. In Italy I would not pay much heed to 'big'. They are all small! This one was really small; If Reggio Emilia is large village, which, it is, Castelnovo nei Monti, would be a tiny one! Anyway, I was more interested in the geographical formations of the area, of which, there is a famous one - Pietra di Bismantova.
take it all in and hold it there, without judgement, without reaction.
Popular with rock climbers, it makes a good easy (if you are in shape) to intermediate hike with a few switchbacks, stairs, regular climbs, gentle plateaus, the whole hog. All along the way, you get two views; the stunning vistas of the valley, the Appennines range in the distance, and, the adrenaline inducing sight of rock climbers gripping and roping up the steep side of the rock! It kind of makes you feel a little small, until you reach the top... a great leveler! No matter the route you took, vertical or winding, the end is one that takes your breath away.....! And, then brings it back deep, reassuring, and utterly enamored.
The view from the summit is one of the best I have seen on any hike I have done in my life! Nowhere has there so much diversity to behold... blue shaded mountains in scaled heights int he distance, the rich green hues of the farmlands directly beneath us, the sharp edges of the rock we were resting on, the sheer drop that a small slip will befall you. It was a beautiful experience to take it all in and hold it there, without judgement, without reaction. To just be......
We spent hours there. We had hours to spend since there was only bus back in the evening as it was a Sunday. We meditated, strolled around, lay around, walked the length of the face, stared out into the distance, marveled at the expanse of it all.... And, in general, stayed present. It was not difficult. The space makes it so, I think. I really don't remember the last time when I was so at peace with the current and unencumbered by restlessness, self-applied deadlines or thoughts of what next....
A day to remember and repeated!
If you are in the area, I highly recommend taking the time to hike up here....