Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Up a mountain to come down a hill!

Masa Martana to Bastardo – 15th October 2016 24.3k

Well it was hard to leave today. I had had a good night sleep, managed to get my walk clothes washed and dried by keeping the heating on in the bathroom and consumed a decent breakfast. Well I say decent, I had planned to have some fried egg sandwiches after finishing the fruit salad I had made the day before, but I'd bought sugared croissants by mistake. I also say dried my clothes but my walk socks were still damp. After warming the croissants that I did not eat, I took advantage of the oven still being warm, switched it off and hung my socks on the inside of it and closed the door. Not only were my socks dry to put on but they were toasty warm. If anyone chooses to do this after reading this, please make sure the oven is switched off! I cannot be held responsible for you cooking your socks….

I'd had pre planned my route using satellite imagery and chose to follow a footpath up to the top of Mt Martano which then turned into a cycle route to Bastardo. Easy peasey, lemon squeezy. My first immediate hurdle was when I turned into the street that led me up there and I noticed a sing that stated Mt Martano ristoranta 11k. WHAT, what, 11k uphill…..you've got to be kidding me!

Well needless to say I continued the uphill trawl, initially I had not been able to see the top of the mountain due to the low cloud level, but as I ascended in the morning heat that soon had me dripping with sweat, the clouds dispersed and the sun beat down. In fairness the route wasn't too bad, once the Tarmac road had given way to the now familiar white stone track it was ok. The track meandered around the hillside all the time steadily climbing, I was on an unpaved road so a few cars passed me by and secretly was yearning for the offer of a lift but only to be able to refuse it……honest!

To left of my was a deep valley down to the town and to the left of that was the summit of the mountain with two very large and out of place telecommunications towers, but I guess they have to be there. Eventually after two hours I reached the crossroads and the cycle track that would take me to Bastardo. On occasions when I was facing the wrong direction there was a cool breeze that briefly gave me goose pimples but it did not last long enough for me to add an extra layer. As I neared the summit I was praying for the restaurant to be open, I thought it should be as it was a Saturday. My luck was in, every now and then I caught the smell of a log fire and although there were a few holiday chalets dotted around not were emitting smoke. The final corner brought the relief I was looking for when I spied smoke rising above the trees and the tell tale glimpse of the restaurant, I'm sure my pace increased slightly and before long I was walking through the door and ordering my usual double espresso. 

All good things must come to an end and after a quick photo of the roaring fire I slipped out of the door to climb the last few metres to take some breath taking views of the valley below me and the Appenine mountain range to the right.

Soon I was descending the long road down to the valley far below. Once again I had cars passing me by but this time I was smiling and nodding as they passed me by…..smug git I'm sure they uttered! In the distance I could hear the tingle of bells and knew that somewhere around the sheep or the goats would be grazing on the lush vegetation and forest floor. As I rounded a sharp bend the owners of the bells appeared…..four white cows slowly munching their way up the hill. Now the nearest field was about 6k down the hill, the nearest one up the hill was about 3k, so why were the cows coming up the mountain? Sadly despite being asked no one could explain.

I skirted around them and their deposits before arriving in Giano dell Umbria 11c, another sleepy place. It looked quite quaint so I decided to explore only to find that their was only about four streets around the circumference of the main piazza and the church at the top of a small hill. 

I made my way back to the main road and although I was starting to get weary I was equally keen to get to the hotel I had booked and so pressed on. By know I had 20k under my be
belt and my feet were telling me that they had had enough, I continued. I was keen to stay off any roads with traffic on so elected to meander through a sleepy hamlet with only three houses in but in essence never gained anytime or distance. Once more on the main road, I past the cemetery which was rather big given the size of the village I had passed through and then turned left. I don't recall the last 5k, I think I was either asleep or somewhere else, but just before 3.30pm I rolled into the village and to my hotel. 

The town grew around an inn and stabling station in the 17th or 18th centuries, and was once known as Osteria del Bastardo (i.e. "Bastard's Inn"). In the 1920s the name was shortened to its current form, it  has been noted for its unusual place name. Currently there are only about 1,000 people living there.




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