EXCURSION to Monte di Fossato
Municipality: Montebello Jonico
Time: 5 – 6 hours
Drinking water: Fossato, the Forestry Nursery
Elevation: Torrente S. Pietro (543 metres above sea level) – Campo di Sant’Antonio (1007 metres above sea level)
Elevation difference: 464 metres
Season: all year round
Ordinance Survey Map: Scale 1:25.000 n.e. F° 602 III Motta S. Giovanni
This circular itinerary crosses country roads and traces a broad ring around the valley of the Racali River, where it is possible to observe interesting variations in the vegetation due to changes in altitude. When we leave the olive groves of Fossato we first meet monumental oaks, then chestnut trees in the S. Antonio vicinity.
En route the excursion becomes more interesting as we come across curious pinnacles of rock and the remains of kilns (carcare) once used for the production of quicklime. In the fields around S. Antonio, in contrast with the landscape, towering wind turbines used to produce electricity, stand out.
A little farther on, a short detour (about 1 kilometre) brings us to the mouth of the Lamia Caves, the vastest and largest natural underground feature known to us in the whole province of Reggio Calabria, full of pilasters and variously arranged colonnades as well as stalactites that hang from the rocky vault studded with splendid arrays of fossil shells. The circuit is clockwise to allow us to visit the ruins of the little church of San Giovanni towards the end of the tour: the icing on the cake!
Arriving by car
Fewer than 30 kilometres of the SS 106 highway lead from Reggio Calabria to a turning from the coast road which takes us, following the signposts, to Fossato Jonico. After ten kilometres of bends and some amazing views of Pentedattilo we reach Montebello Jonico. Continuing uphill for about 5 kilometres we arrive at Fossato. Taking the provincial road (S.P. 22) at the end of Fossato, the motorist needs to pay particular attention to a sharp left bend out of which a narrow roadway (via Sant’Anna) branches off to the right and leads downhill to the San Pietro river where parking is available.
The excursion on foot
From the road to the cemetery, a dirt pathway leads up to the hills. The excursionists take the next two turnings left and continue for about 1 kilometre until they arrive at the top of a ridge overlooking the Paludi stream which flows into the wide Melito River. Following the main (northward) trail the group heads for the hill. Near Serro Condena a narrow, sandy trail, full of sharp bends, brings the excursionists to an unusual set of rocky pinnacles and the first grove of chestnut trees. A final stretch of the pathway, here paved, brings the group to the Taglio di Musolino (aqueduct to the left) and shortly afterwards, joins the tarmacked road.
The excursionists turn left here (right for Embrisi) and again at the following junction (right for Motta San Giovanni and the Grotte della Lamia – Caves of Lamia). After la Porticella the road descends steeply. After less than 1 kilometre, a dirt track on the left soon takes the excursionists to the forest nursery (where there is a drinking fountain at the gateway). At the following junction (500 metres) a detour is taken to visit the ruins of the twelfth-century San Giovanni church. After a climb of about 600 metres, a track branches off, right, from the main trail. Having followed this route for about 10 minutes, another right-hand junction is taken.
As the path begins to descend, it is necessary to pay attention in order to distinguish, right, the top of walls which are all that remain of the church of San Giovanni. If by mistake one finds oneself overlooking Fossato, it is necessary to turn back and join the main track at the fork leading back to the nursery and then turn left. After less than 1 kilometre, some modern farm buildings and a mill appear. The road, tarmacked from here on, returns to the departure point.
Source: Guida Naturalistica della Calabria Greca– Alfonso Picone – Rubbettino Editore – Collana Parco Culturale della Greek Calabria