There is such a wealth of choice when it comes to planning a day excursion from Montefiore for nature lovers that it is difficult to choose which ones to recommend, but a destination which stands out as a must-see- and return to time and time again- is the Sibillini mountains.
They are just a stone’s throw away and cover 70,000 square metres, so there are vast areas with glorious lakes where you can swim in the pure, cool water or sunbathe on the shore, shady forest paths to cycle or wander through, and mountain peaks to climb. In the summer, a trip up into the Sibillini can be a blessed relief from the heat and crowds attracted by the many sandy beaches on the coast.
This is a protected national park, and is part of the Apennine mountain range, with a total of 20 peaks of more than 2,000 metres, dominated by Mount Vettore (2,476 m.). You can be sure of experiencing the unspoilt tranquillity of the indigenous primeval forest and mountain environment. The often rugged mountainsides are interspersed with rich flower filled grassy plains, where a diversity of wildlife thrive, from porcupines to wildcats. As well as the spectacular views and natural glories of flora and fauna there is also a rich and mysterious history.
From ancient times this area has been considered to have magical properties, and in medieval times witches, necromancers and magicians used to meet up here – particularly on the shores of the lake Lago de Pilato (named after Pontius Pilate, who is said to have been dragged here by oxen and drowned in the lake).
There are many planned walking routes, starting from the gentle slopes of the lowlands and rising steeply through dense forest, to emerge from the shade into glorious sun-drenched alpine scenery, complete with snow-capped mountains. You can climb down into the Gorge of Hell, (La Gola dell’infernaccio) where butterflies flutter around bubbling springs, and visit the cave of the Sibyl, where the ancient mythical prophetess is said to have hidden after fleeing from the underworld. The mountain range is named after her.
In the surrounding area there are many pretty, unspoilt, medieval villages perched on top of hills and with stupendous vistas of mountain and forest and the deep blue of the Adriatic in the distance. The perfect way to crown a day’s hiking in the mountains is to enjoy a leisurely dinner of wonderful local dishes and wine on the terrace of a local restaurant.