Photography by Roberto Ridi
Degree of difficulty: medium-easy
Time: 2.5 hours
Departure: Marciana, Fortezza Pisana
Arrival: Marciana, Fortezza Pisana
Serra Ventosa, Marciana
«The route to Serra Ventosa starts from the Pisan Fortress in Marciana”,» says Federica Ferrini, one of the most esteemed professional guides of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park. And, continuing, adds, «Path 103 is also known as the “Via Crucis di Marciana”, a beautiful stretch over a series of uphill steps, just like a natural “Way of the Cross”. The stations are housed in fourteen decorated tabernacles. This is a beautiful feature that lends itself to a journey through nature and is also ideal, of course, for true spiritual pilgrimage.
Via Crucis, Marciana
The path between pines, oaks and chestnut trees, has many interesting scenic points. The steps are made of granite slabs. I recommend walking this part fairly slowly, enjoying the stops at the panoramic viewpoints or in the shade of the trees. If you come here during the hottest part of the day you’ll find that the leaves of the trees cast a shadow over your steps, offering pleasant relief from the summer heat.
The climb ends at the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Monte (627 m).
Here you will find rest areas; sit on the benches, in the cool chestnut trees and relax a while, then go to the church entrance where you’ll find the Teatro delle Fonti. Here, in the niches of the sanctuary, there is natural, and of course drinkable, spring water to help quench your thirst and cool off, which will help you with the rest of the walk.
Except in the winter, the Sanctuary is often open to visitors.
From the Sanctuary continue along an old military cart track heading towards Troppolo; the path (103), winding through the green among the aromas of the Mediterranean maquis and the natural blooms, becomes flat and sandy. The view is breathtakingly beautiful. In spring, usually towards the end of May, depending on the temperature, the flowering of prickly broom shades the contours with a golden hue, a real wonder.
The walk becomes, therefore, very relaxing, without difficult slopes; here you can stroll in the peaceful and very scenic environment, relaxing and enjoying the generous embrace of nature.
Come to this area on any day in spring and you’ll discover a unique scenario: each period offers different blooms and colours; in May, for example, the slopes will be covered with Salvia desoleana. At other times you’ll see a variety of colours in bloom; white heathers, purple lavenders, yellow helichrysum and white and pink rock roses.
You then arrive in a clearing with a small, equipped rest area where you’ll find a detour on the right and gradually discover a wonderful view on the ridge of Serra Ventosa; this is the start of the Raggio Verde (Green Ray), a GTE path ultimately leading to Patresi.
Not infrequently, on beautiful weather days, you’ll encounter freeride enthusiasts.
Even for mountain bikers it’s hard not to stop, put your foot on the ground and observe, enchanted by the natural beauty that literally encompasses all in a whirlwind of colours, which then explodes and fades into breathtaking views.
Compared to the first stretch, the Via Crucis, here the perspective becomes boundless and highly evocative. On clear days you can clearly see on the horizon, beyond the volcanic island of Capraia, the outline of Corsica to the north-west.».
TIPS FOR SINGLES
Visit these areas in the company of expert guides, or in a group. The trails are well maintained by the Park Authority, but it is always advisable not to attempt them alone. The Park Authority will provide you with a calendar of events. Or stay in this hotel, where you’ll find an expert Personal Elba Consultant >
TIPS FOR FAMILIES
This path is definitely suitable for families, especially the first part up to the Sanctuary. But take your time, starting in the morning and taking a packed lunch, so that you’ll be able to stop and rest as you need to. After the Sanctuary, the path is sunny, so, during the warmer months especially, take skin protection to avoid sunburn.
Photo ©Roberto Ridi