The mountain ranges above Cortona – Monte Sant’Egidio, Monte Castel Giudeo,
Monte Ginezzo – at little more than 1000 metres above sea level – are a 15
minute drive up from Cortona. Although just 12 kms from the town, the mountains
are a world away – rugged, wild and extremely beautiful.
View on the way up to Monte Ginezzo
From spring through to summer the abundant array of wild flowers, the
combination of colours and the quantity of insects and butterflies with vibrant
colours matching those of the plants around them, can fascinate and distract one
for hours while walking along the innumerable mountain trails.
The finding of porcini or chantarelle mushrooms in the late spring
and autumn is a great motivation for traipsing up and down the steep wooded mountainsides.
If you are an adventurous walker, you can even go off piste, but might find yourself face to face with wild boar
(often with their young), startled deer, hares and even the odd, unwary fox. A sturdy walking stick is not a bad idea
(more as a weapon of self-defence than as a walking aid), although most wild
animals are very timid and extremely wary of anything on two legs!
There are endless choices for walks up in the mountains: red and white
painted signs (often on the trunks of trees or a chunk of rock) identify public
There are old Roman roads
that extend for miles through pine, chestnut and oak woods. Monte Castel Giudeo offers
a walk with a view, as does the walk up from the Cerventosa to Monte
Ginezzo. Generally speaking however, in
Italy, you are allowed to walk where you wish.
Monte Castel Giudeo
View from Monte Castel Giudeo
At Portole, along the strada
provinciale Umbro-Cortonese (about 15 minutes from Cortona direction Città
di Castello) there are some maps posted identifying a variety of trails one can
follow, but perhaps more importantly there is a bar to return to at trip’s end
where one can also enjoy an amazing panoramic view (and a well-earned cold
drink and panino) looking out over
Walking routes from Portole
View from Portole bar
One can organise day-trips with a picnic (from the top of Mount Ginezzo
one can walk cross country to Pierle), or shorter hikes (from the Cerventosa to
the top of Mount Ginezzo which takes a good 50 minutes) or drive up to the parking
area at the top and take a healthy (quite steep) walk up to the mountain’s peak
from where there is a breath taking 270° degree view of what I can best
describe as a view of ‘planet earth’.
View from the top of Monte Ginezzo
Other scenic, but quite wild trails are along the fire breaks; paths cut
through the woodland and cleared of vegetation to literally break the advance
of a forest fire. Here one can see visible signs of the local fauna -
footprints of the innumerable boar, deer, porcupines, foxes and, so it is said,
the spoor of wolves.
View from the Cerventosa's fire break
None of these animals tend to be out during the day and most of them
flee at the mere whiff of a human, but making a bit of a noise as you walk, is
probably a good precaution to take.