Revision: CAI 22 trail removes dangerous path after Pieve Santo Stefano

As promised, here is additional information about revisions to the path after Pieve Santo Stefano (Stage 8, p. 95).

Keep the first line of the paragraph that reads, “The road turns to gravel then comes alongside the wall of the Auto Strada Statale 3bis.” Replace the rest of the paragraph with this:

Turn right at the first archway under the highway and follow the driveway left, past the house and through the metal gate (please close it behind you). Keep on this road, veering left at the next two Y intersections while going uphill at a moderate rate. Stay on the road as it leads through a logged area and then goes steeply uphill. About 500m later the road becomes a one track path and reaches a summit with views to the reservoir beyond. About 200m later the path joins a road from the right which you follow as it leads steeply downhill. Watch your footing carefully as the road plunges down on sandstone bedrock and small, loose gravel.

CAI 22 markers show the way.

Turn right here.

I strongly advise against walking on the original route behind the Euro Hotel. The path has eroded off the hillside and is precarious for all walkers.

What the old path looks like now.

Rainy days and Sundays, always going down

Contrasts — blackened trees from a previous forest fire grow in the rainy mist.

Day Seven: Santuario Della Verna to Pieve Santo Stefano — 15km (9.3 miles)

We woke up this morning to a “gully washer,” which in Northwest parlance means a torrential downpour of rain. I couldn’t imagine walking down the steep hill — or even being outside for more than a few minutes– but by 9:00 the rain had settled into a steady drizzle. Several of our group opted to take the van downhill, while the rest (ok, Gary and me) braved the elements and walked the 600m (1800 ft) descent. Those who were driven downhill had the added treat of touring the nearby birthplace of Michelangelo. After the descent I scouted out a track revision for tomorrow and posted the update on my blog and in our Facebook group. Tomorrow’s weather looks to be sunny and mild.

Gary poses by the La Verna statue of the Saint and the dove seller.

Today the paths did double duty as creeks.

Misty, autumnal pathways in the high forests.

Views opened up as we dipped below cloud level.

Soon we saw Pieve Santo Stefano below.

Views toward Caprese Michelangelo and La Rocca.

Pieve Santo Stefano decked out for a festival.

Gary and I pose for a selfie as we arrive — safe, sound and soaked — at our hotel.

Revised route from Pieve Santo Stefano to Sansepolcro

Carol Sammet’s proposed route is the dotted line above, CAI 22.

Back in 2014 when I researched the route from Pieve Santo Stefano to Sansepolcro I recognized that the biggest challenge was how to reduce the 37km distance of this stage in the official Via di Francesco trail. I talked to locals who told me of the path behind the Euro Hotel that easily connected to the official Cammino di Assisi route for a 25km total to Sansepolcro. I walked it and a couple of other variants and chose the Euro Hotel route with its shaded and gentle grade among young trees with the Tiber River, a wide creek this far north, babbling joyfully below.

Sadly, in 2015 this lovely route was completely logged and all that remained was a narrow path in daylight on a steep bank slowly being choked by weeds. Pilgrims began to report difficulties and dangers as the rains slowly washed away what had once been a gentle and picturesque trail.

Pilgrim Carol Sammet wrote this to me two days ago:

Sandy, we tried to walk today the route from pieve Santo to sansepolcro and found it too dangerous. We found out later you need to pick up CA 22 at the first tunnel under the bridge rather than the trail behind hotel Euro.

In a few days I’ll confirm Carol’s suggestion and make an official revision to my guidebook along with a revised GPX track. But in the meantime I offer Carol’s recommendation to all who are presently in the trail.

As I’ve often said, it takes a village to make a guidebook. Thanks always to everyone whose comments are helping to improve our route.

Here’s how the proposed revision looks on the guidebook map p. 96.