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4 - BADIA PRATAGLIA - LA VERNA
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"A lot of people came here, poor, pilgrims and saints...". The Cammino arrives to Alpe di Serra via Romea and reaches the Santuario francescano della Verna by passing through Vallesanta: on the mountain which, more than any other, has sancitified the world.

Start Stage
Badia Prataglia
Arrival Stage
La Verna
Stage Length
28,329
Nation
Italy
Region
Toscana  
Ascent
705,1 mt.
Descent
994,2 mt.
Difficulty (1 .. 5)
CAI (Diff. Escurs.)
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GPS Maps

From the Church of Santa Maria Assunta in Padia Brataglia, the Cammino goes up the hairpin turns of Sassopiano until it arrives to the periphery of the residential area. The road 60 CAI trail keeps going on the slope La Selve, where some strips of an old chestnut remain. The ascent ends in Campo dell&rsquoAgio, a small glade with a water source, some tables and an equipped shelter. All around you see trees that are centuries-old.  Some trails go up towards the ridge, but the Cammino goes on to the dirt road towards SR 71, although they all intersect in Carbonile, right next to the pub. A metal votive niche recalls the Virgin Mary savign a little girl, who had been run over by a car. Then you go on SR 71 up until the bridge on the Fosso del Macchino and you take 58 CAI trail that goes up to the Passo dei Lupatti, where it intersects with the second stage. You divert towards Cancellino, below one of the most beautiful beech trees forest in the National Park of Foreste Casentinesi. The trees are around 100 years old and their trunks support wide and pronged manes. The road retraces the mark of a narrow-gauge railroad, built at the beginning of the 900s for the transportation of the woods coming from Foresta della Lama and directed to Cancellino, where it ended. Across SR 71 you arrive to Passo dei Mandrioli. On the side of the road you see a votive headstone of the Virgin Mary, and a cross in memory of a person killed on the road, and another shrine with the Virgin Mary and the Child. The Cammino goes on to the right for the 00 GEA trail, which clambers up the crest, leaving behind Foreste Casentinesi. Beech tree woods, interrupted by silver firs, accompany the journey towards the ridge. Going around Monte Zuccherodante Site of Communitarian Importance, SIC, you arrive to Alpe di Serra, on the crossroad of the medieval via Romea, which used to connect Stadens, in northern Germany, and Roma, via Arezzo. You arrive to the intersection with Alpe di Serra also from Passo di Serra.

You deviate on the right, going down towards Vallesanta, whose name dates back to the I century from the evangelization journey of northern Italy of San Barnaba. The road trace is the original one, however with bulldozers used nowadays, the stone paving has been removed. Only some fragments are still visible, although endangered by the negligence and ignorance. The road goes down, among pastures and beech trees, flanking a water source in proximity of Capanna della Bandita, it crosses the moat and goes on to the the opposite shore. The descent is now less steep than before and it reaches the level ground close to a crest, and beyond that a votive niche is located in the middle of the rocks. It is the votive niche of Maestà di Serra, still honoured by wayfarers: &ldquoI have trust in you Mary, help me along the journey&rdquo A little metal headstone on the side, is in memory of the pilgrims who have passed by. With a last tract in downhill, you arrive to the intersection with a dirt road 069 CAI trail near Serra di Sopra: a castle looks over Via Romea, with no ruins are left, and a village with a church dedicated to San Niccolò, has been built in the following centuries. Near an old wash house the pilgrims can refresh and shelter. When you arrive to the intersection, you go on to the dirt road, among pasture and grasslands and oak trees. The residential areas of Casa Ferrala, now only some ruins, and Capanna Mrine, still inhabited, come right after and then you arrive to Podere Fatycchio. A metal cross on the right signals the deviation from the Cammino to a rural road under the shade between woods and where some deer and boars graze. You turn on the left on every intersection until you reach 068 CAI, in front of the Maestà di Scapruggine, built in protection of the area and in memory of a cruel accident that saw a little kid dying. On the shrine you find a polychrome terracotta with the Madonna dei Sette Dolori, who is still very venerate in the area. Not a lot further you can see Scapruggine, dominated by Monte della Verna. A few empty houses and the chapel of the Leoni&rsquos family, dedicated to San Bartolomeo, make up a little village. The Cammino restarts from a water house on the dirt road 068 CAI, passes over in the intersection to Aioli, old medieval hospital for the welcoming of pilgrims directed to Rome, and keeps going until it reached the municipal road to Doccione, close to Biforco. You enter the village via 069 CAI trail, that descends towards the Church of San Michele.  The interior guarded a beautiful painting of Our Lady of the Rosary, now moved inside Castello di Poppi. A water source sprays fresh water in front of the church porch. The Cammino goes down on 069 CAI trail, among the stoned houses of the village, passes a votive niche and intersects the municipal road more than once, before arriving on the SP 62 in Molino della Ripa. You follow the paved road with the Cross with the symbols of the Passion of Christ is located, in the intersection with Montefatucchio. You now cross the bridge on Torrente Corsalone and the votive niche of Sancta Maria in Capite Pontis, built by the heir of the Tarlati&rsquos family, as testified by the coat of arms on it. In the cell, a terracotta portrays the Virgin and the Child. The ascent to the sacred Monte della Verna has now begun. The road brings you to Casalino near a wash house with a water source, and from here the trail goes up until Poggio Montopoli. Past the county road, the 053 CAI trail goes inside the Foresta della Verna. Trees that are centuries old lop towards the sky with erratic blocks of rocks on their feet, covered by thick musk and colored lichens. Inside the forest the Ghiacciaie opens up. One of them is still visible along the trail. They are deep natural caves, in which temperatures are very cold even in the summer, to the point that friars have used it to store the food, by covering it with the snow. While in 1944 the population hided, in order to escape the Nazi-Fascist. Scogliera delle Stimmate dominates the trail, that now goes toward the mule track of the Beccia. The song that echo among the trees, recall the multitude of birds that had greet Saint Francis. That miracle is pictured inside Cappella degli Uccelli. A last sprint ends the ascent to Piazza del Quadrante, in front of the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli and Basilica Maggiore

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