ECOLOGICAL TOURISM. The wild-boar hunters’ trail
A circular trekking route amid the Fossato Hills, touching on interesting historical-cultural sites and providing amazing views.
Length of the ring route: 9.4 kilometres
Altitude gap: max 350 metres
Time required: 4 hours
Note: provide yourself with water before setting out.
Meeting point: the Fossatello bridge. Car park near Calamaci sports fields, fifteen minutes away at most.
In the past, Fossato was a fairly strategic market town for the sale of agricultural products to local towns and the city of Reggio Calabria. As far back as the eighteenth century, it played an important role as the last postal station on the hill route between the Ionian Sea and the big city, which, by means of a busy untarmacked country road, linked the towns and villages of Brancaleone, Bova, Condufuri and Roccaforte. It was the only route for the safe transport of merchandise at the time, as the sea road was full of unhealthy swamps and the object of frequent attacks by life-endangering marauders. We follow an uphill stretch of this road from Calamaci to Campicedhu before turning downhill towards Musieti which provides one of the most enthralling panoramic views of Reggio Calabria.
The trek begins. We walk uphill following the Calamaci (the Greek for cane thicket) stream, a place abounding in water. After about one kilometre up a gentle slope, on the left-hand bank of the stream we take an old pathway from the Nchianata i Rriggiu [The Reggio Slope – the old name of the roadway] leading through impressive olive groves to the Campicedhu plateau, and from here down the Musieti slope to S. Nicola di Rosario Valanidi.
Having reached the plateau, we take a right turn in the direction of Allai, along a road skirting the ENEL [Italian Electricty Company] Eolic Generator Park, in the municipalities of Motta and Montebello Ionico. After about one kilometre, we reach a terrace overlooking the Strait of Messina and the airport of Reggio Calabria. After a short stretch of the old Musieti road we return towards the Fossato valley.
At the Campicedhu crossroads we take the road that slopes slightly downhill to Tazza through thick Mediterranean vegetation and pine woods. Here we may come across herds of cattle and flocks of sheep and goats grazing. To the right there is a view overlooking the Savucciu valley, where water used to flow abundantly all year round, a spot highly frequented until the end of the 1940’s. Here, before the aqueduct brought running water to the area, housewives from Fossato would come down to draw water and launder their clothes in the stream. On sunny days, bedding and personal linen were washed here. The women used to place sheets and other items in a large basket, spread clean ash they brought from their hearths over them, and then poured boiling hot water over all. The caustic mulch [lye] produced by the ash and boiling water seeped through the cloth whitening and perfuming it. It was important to choose the proper kind of ash: never that obtained from chestnut! But from olive and oak, neither of which left a trace of colour. Then, all the clothes were laid out to dry in the sun on the bushes around the river and, once the laundry was dry, the women returned home. Sometimes, when there were as many as 5 or 6 housewives at the creek at a time, they often fought over the best places! For decades now, the whole valley, with its dense chestnut and oak woods, is home to herds of wild boars. Local hunters often return home from their shoots with considerably heavy, large trophies. Continuing on our way, we cross over a ridge in front of mounds of white rock, which has given the name of I Petri du Mulinu [The Millstones] to the district.
Used in the past to grind flour and oil, the best of these stones were chosen by size and hardness, brought downhill to expert stonemasons, and given their circular form. They were used to mill cereals or press olives. The trek resumes slightly uphill to a plateau and a crossroads called A casa I ll’Africanu [The African’s House] and proceeds to the right towards the Lungja picnic area. Created by men working for the Reclaim Consortium, in the summer it is a favourite location for families who spend entire days in the shade of the refreshing pines, cooking and eating local delicacies, as they enjoy a view of Mount Etna to their right, the Ionian coast and sea to their left.
At the end of a straight stretch, we arrive at the sanctuary of Our Lady of Lungja, a small country church of the 1990’s, built at the behest of the parish priest Don Angelo Meduri and constructed free of charge by the Forestry workers on land donated by Dr. Gullì and availing of material paid for by the citizens of Fossato. From this vantage point we obtain panoramic vistas of the S. Elia Valley with the Ionian Sea, the Fortress of Prastarà right, Pentedattilo, Sant’Elena, San Lorenzo and Bova Superiore in the background, framing a breathtaking view worthy of a postcard.
The group stops to admire the view and listen to a short account of the history of the area, then continues downhill along the winding road.
After a kilometres we turn right and take the road leading to the Source of the Calamaci stream.
From this road it is possible to get a better view to the right, of the area where the boars reside.
Here continuous shoots, animated contests between local hunters, take place to see who will bag the most impressive trophy. We soon reach the bed of the Calamaci stream, in the vicinity locally known as A Castagnara [the Chestnut Grove] where, in 2009, the Comunità Montana [a public institution] cleared and equipped an area with benches and tables where it is possible to rest, eat and drink.
A tunnel of about seven metres was dug into the mountain to reach a cleaner source of water. Inside the tunnel there are two settling tanks with a pipe of about twenty metres feeding a fountain available to the public. Near the fountain is a picnic area providing refreshment for the visitors, enclosed by a wooden fence, while the part overlooking the weir is cordoned off by a wire mesh barrier for the safety of younger visitors.
We continue along the banks of the Calamaci until we reach the Azienda Agricola Pugliesi [The Pugliesi Farm] where it is possible to see milk being made into ricotta and cheese.
The excursionists’ lunch will begin with a taste of fresh ricotta and whey and local hardened bread, followed by cured meats and cheeses washed down by a good local wine. Those who so wish may purchase the Pugliesi Farm’s products.
It is also possible to visit the Farm’s nearby hog-breeding compound.
Presidente: Mimmo Pellicanò cell. 328.4295358
Vice presidente: Fabio Macheda cell. 320.6926592