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near Assisi, Umbria (Italia)
Nice hike up Monte Subasio from Assisi. The hike takes you through ancient forests, over alpine meadows, and through parts of the medieval town of Assisi, offers great views towards Assisi and across entire Umbria, and takes you into the small hermitage dedicated to Saint Francis, and onto the top at 1290 meters of Monte Subasio. Monte Subasio is a characteristic whale-shaped mountain covered with (truffle-rich) deciduous forests (a.o. holm oak) and with a bald dome.
The hike starts in Assisi on Piazza Matteotti (payed parking, bus stop) and first takes you to the city gate Porta Cappuccini. Directly after the gate you turn left onto trail 50. This trail first steeply ascends through forests until a viewing point (Montarone, see waypoint) where you have a nice view across Valle Umbra, and the trail flattens off. Shortly thereafter, you arrive to an asphalt road which you then follow to the Eremo delle Carceri, a small hermitage erected on the spot where Saint Francis spent a lot of time praying in a small cave (see waypoint). You can visit the hermitage which is open most of the day; the trail actually takes you through the gate and onto the site. After you have visited the site, you follow a trail up into the woods from the little toilet building above the hermitage through the gorge, and then left up to the asphalt road (ignore the sign at the fallen tree). You go left and then directly right to continue trail 50 up along the little gorge. Just before Rifugio di Vallonica you exit the forest and turn right to continue through meadows up to Sasso Piano. This is a rocky outcrop marked with a cross where you have a beautiful view across the Umbra valley and down to Assisi. Still continuing on trail 50 you then go further up towards the observatory. You cross the gravel road just below the observatory to turn left and go the final meters up to the top of Monte Subasio. There is a viewing point with panoramic charts here, and if the weather is good you can see the snow-capped (in May) peaks of the Sibillini mountains. From here you follow trail 61 across the meadows north parallel to the gravel road until you come back to the edge of the forest at another forest road. During my descend I somehow missed some of the trail markers, so the track does not follow the exact trail but crosses the barbed-wire fence (for keeping the horses on the meadows) at the same spot as trail 61. Here you turn left and you arrive to the point where the asphalt road to the top turns into gravel, near Rifugio Stazzi. Here you go down, first across a meadow and then on forest roads to Assisi. You pass by a small water spring at Fonte Maddalene (see waypoint). When you get back to the city walls, instead of going directly back to the starting point, you follow a small trail outside the city wall down to Via Renzo Rosati, and then climb via asphalt and trails through the grass to the magnificent viewing point at the Rocca Maggiore (see waypoint), a medieval castle overlooking the entire city. From here you return through the city and past the cathedral back to the starting point.
There are no places to buy food or drink on Monte Subasio apart from a small kiosk at the Eremo delle Carceri (sandwiches, coffee, drinks, sweets). In Assisi, there is of course sufficient opportunity to buy something. The Rocca Maggiore castle can only be entered after paying an entrance fee (5 € summer 2014). It is worth it mainly for the views, not so much for the castle itself or the exhibits within. The entrance to the hermitage is free. The parking lot at the starting point charged 1.30 € per hour. On the day I did this hike in the beginning of May, it was very windy and overcast, and very cold at the top. The hike was inspired by, but not the same as, some hikes described in "Rother Wanderführer: Umbrien" by Rolf Goetz (in German), hikes 17 and 19.
Eremo delle carceri is a small hermitage erected on the spot where Saint Francis of Assisi spent a lof of time in a small cave. You can visit the cave of Francis inside the hermitage, but also the Via Francisco (a road behind the hermitage with several points of interest), the surrounding oak forest, caves of other hermits and a few bronze statues. There is no entrance fee, and there is a kiosk at the entrance.
This is a small water source here with a plaque and a little building and a water trough. Not much water to see though.
There is a junction of paths here, and a viewpoint across the Valle Umbra.
This is the summit of the Monte Subasio with a plaque and panoramic charts.
Here is the medieval castle with superb viewing of Assisi and surroundings. There are also exhibits on the castle itself and photos of a medieval spectacle. Entrance fee is 5 € for adults (summer 2014 rate). Do not forget to go to the octagonal tower on the northwestern edge where you have the best viewing. You need to go through a long dark tunnel in the castle wall to get there.
Here is the San Rufino cathedral. The other churches of Assisi are not part of this route. The most important one being Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi.
This is a rocky outcrop with spectacular views across the valley and towards Assisi.
Around this point I wandered off the trail and followed a course closer to the road then intended. When going down I found back the trail where it crosses the barbed wire. The trail itself can be easily followed (red/white on stone markers). The meadows here can be crossed almost anywhere and horses roam around freely.