SAN PELLEGRINO – CASTILGLIONE GARFAGNANA – VALBONE

San Pellegrino in Alpe

Not to be confused with the water San Pellegrino!- just a matter of 30 minutes north of Caselnuovo is The Shrine of San Pellegrino. He is believed to have been a Scottish Prince – son of King Romanus and Queen Plantula of Scotia – often translated as Scotland but probably referring to Ireland, whose people were confusingly referred to as Scotti – so the brochure tells us! He renounced his birthright and became a Pilgrim.

Anyway, enough of the heavy history lesson, St Pellegrino is WELL worth a visit. Apart from the small church where you can see the glass coffin with St Pelegrino and his disciple St Bianco lying side by side, (1255) the view from the church is QUITE breath taking. I must admit that I sat for ages, just looking over the mountain ranges - you could see for miles. Closeby there is a mound of stones. The story here is that in ages gone by, people who had sinned would walk 4 days and 4 nights carrying a stone – the greater the sin, the heavier the stone. When they reached this ridge where the church is built, they offloaded their stone and therefore their sin! There is a wooden cross at the top here. On August 1st , every year (which is the saints day), they make a new cross from beechwood and there is a procession and prayers of dedication.

There is only one hotel here, and the food is highly recommended and reasonably priced. Tit is usual for there to be a 10 degree drop in temperature here, so on a hot summers day, it is very welcoming. Later on in the season, you may want to take a light cover!

Castilglione Garfagnana.

Going back the way you came, there is a right fork in the road signposted to Casilglione G. There is a small town entirely surrounded by mediaeval walls with several towers. From a distance it looks like a fairy tale castle. The beautiful Romanesque cathedral is particularly interesting. The panorama of the valley is very impressive.

A little further on is the tiny hamlet of Valbone. Set along the river and a good place for a picnic and a dip in the crystal clear refreshing water in the small ponds created by the gentle cascading water.. We found this tiny place delightful, with mountain goats clanging their bells, free range chickens and at the centre of the hamlet opposite the lovely church are steps up into a garden with the statue of the Madonna looking down at you. When we visited, there had been a wedding, the day before, and the place was decorated with peach and cream balloons and white bows directing guests to the church.

The road goes no further. You can drive a few kilometres further, but you end up on unmade roads. From this point, back to Celle is a 1 hour drive.

Places like Barga and Castelnuovo are good to visit, but sometimes our guests have been a little disappointed. The places we have suggested above are perhaps not so well advertised but we find them more of a WOW factor.