08-20 San Martino

Monday, August 20, CamoglieresCaricatori – Colle Pertus (1370) – San Martino – Centro Culturale Borgata

We awaken at the wonderful Locanda del Silenzio at 7 o’clock, prepare ourselves for the days’ hike and wander off to breakfast, only to discover we have to wait until 8:30. In this beautiful garden, that’s no problem. And the breakfast is worth the wait: bowls of fresh fruit, muesli, sausage, bread, cakes: at this kingly brunch, there’s no shortage of delicacies.

Bellies full, we shoulder up our backpacks and head downhill, very briefly. Adrian suspects we’re not on the right trail. A brief reconnaissance confirms his suspicions, so we reverse face and head back up toward the village, where we leave the yellow rectangles of the P.O. for the lilac stripes of “Il sentierodeiciclamini.” The cyclamen trail skirts a side valley, and saves us, first, the descent and later, the ascent, to and from the village of Macra. The trail is lovely, easy walking, views across the valley. Unfortunately, however, the only sign of cyclamen is a stand of glistening green leaves on the banks of a stream as we reach the ruined village of Langra. Here we make a sharp turn to the right to rejoin the P.O. and begin a sweaty, one-and-a-half-hour climb to Colle Pertus. We walk past one of the many deserted chapels in the region. Several viewpoints beckon the photographers for confirmation. The exact location of the Colle Pertus is, like that of many of the passes we cross, not so certain. When it’s clear that we’ve reached the top, we spread out for lunch, some people seeking shade (a rarity on this exposed south flank), others happy in the sun with a view of the middle of the Maira valley.

We head downhill via the villages of Centenero and Caudano. A resident in Caudano applauds when he hears we come from Switzerland, then proudly shows how he is converting a former stall into a bar and restaurant to supply the hikers that walk increasingly frequently passed his house.Caudano is also the site of an old hospital that 600 years ago sheltered plague sufferers.

We continue along the mountain flank to the church of San Peyre (San Pietro in Italian). Now there are 2 more hours to San Martino, and as is so often the case on this trail, there is a lot more altitude change between these two places than one would think. So once again it’s down, down, down so that we can climb back up again. The dark clouds that started to appear at San Peyre draw nearer.

Under a black sky and occasional thunder rolls, we move at a trot through the woods to Centro Culturale Borgata. This pension, opened in 1990 by Andrea and Maria Schneider, Austrian and German, has become a cultural center for German speaking tourists. We claim our mattresses in the dormitory, then settle in for showers and beer or tea in the sitting room. For dinner, we once again get the royal treatment: 3 antipasti, including a salad; as a main course, chicken soup with vegetables, and a fresh fruit salad for dessert. For evening entertainment, you can’t beat sitting on the balcony and watching the moon and the Milky Way.

Once again, it was a full day, with many new experiences and good walking.


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