The historical path from the Abbazia di Sassovivo to the village of Pale has been reopened in 2018: let's explore the mountains overlooking Foligno, starting from this 4-kilometer path.
Our starting point is the Abbazia di Santa Croce di Sassovivo: founded in the late eleventh century along the major pilgrimage route of Via Lauretana (connecting Rome and the Sanctuary of Loreto) and based on an existing castle, this impressive abbey rises in an area abundant of holm oaks, just a few minutes' drive from Foligno. The holm oaks of the "Holy Brush" of Sassovivo are one of the most remarkable naturalist landmark in the area, and will accompany us along most of our itinerary, starting from the first stop.
After 300 metres on the paved street to the village of Casale, we will find a Romanesque crypt, called the "Cripta del Beato Alano" ("Crypt of the blessed Alan") after a monk from Wien residing in the chapel in the early fourteenth century. Founded in the 11th century by hermit Maynard and his followers as the first part of a full-fledged cloister, the structure was soon abandoned due to the habitual landslides of the area. Thus, the fraternity decided to move to the nearby castle, a gift from the Monaldis, a Longobard family. Today, the chapel is condemned due to its poor state, but we can still see the facade, the colonnade, and the crypt itself.
The path commonly referred to as “Passeggiata dell’Abate” ("Abbot's path") starts here, passing through woods of centuries-old, 20 metres high holm oaks, solemnly towering over the trail. Almost one thousand years ago, the abbot of Sassovivo and his brothers used to find here, in this arboreal cathedral, the optimal peace and silence for their prayers.
Returning to the road to Casale, you will soon cross a dirt road, known as the "goat's pass", on your left; take this road to start the actual historical path to Pale.
Ignore the detours and keep the ditch on your left, until you reach a passage. From here onwards, the vegetation drastically changes: the holm oaks wood gives way to black hornbeams, common oaks, laburnums and maples. Now, take the mule track going downhill (pay attention: the slope becomes steeper as you go, and the pebbles make it easy to lose your footing) and you will cross the expressway SS77.
The main road to Pale is right in front of you; ever since its foundation in the tenth century, this little village has taken advantage of its positions on the Via Laurentana and the proximity to the Abbey, soon gaining a reputation for the manufacturing of paper, almost 30 years before the first well renowned paper industries of Fabriano.
Those who have some energy left have lots of options in order to keep enjoying their time in the area: three geological-cultural path start from the Elisei square, leading to the important landmarks of the "Grotta della Badessa" ("Grotto of the Abbess"), the Castle of Pale, and the Hermitage of Santa Maria Giacobbe; alternatively, the Menotre Falls are just a few minutes away from the village, and the Pale rock face offers over 150 routes ranging from 4c to 7c+ difficulty (UIAA scale: V to IX+) for all the free climbing enthusiasts among you.