Sunday, March 21, 2021

A Hike from Bergamo to Grotta Pacì Paciana and Poscante

Overview | Notes | Flora | Trail Photos

Leucojum vernum – Spring Snowflake.The tracks for a  hike from Bergamo to Grotta Pacì Paciana.
Looking out the Grotta di Pacì Paciana.Winter-brown grass of Canto Basso.Field near Ripa (Poscante) below Canto Basso.
Top left: Leucojum vernum – Spring Snowflake.
Top right: The tracks for a  hike from Bergamo to Grotta Pacì Paciana.
Bottom left: Looking out the Grotta di Pacì Paciana.
Bottom center: Winter-brown grass of Canto Basso.
Bottom right: Field near Ripa (Poscante) below Canto Basso.


Overview

Length: ~ 28.5 km (17.7 miles)
Duration: ~8 hours (includes at 1 hour stopping time for lunch, snack, talking)
Elevation:  gain 1,637 m (5,370 ft), max 1,013 m (3,323 ft) below Canto Alto, min 262 m (860 ft) – Bergamo.
Location: Italy, Lombardia, Bergamo, Colli di Bergamo, Zogno


Notes

Who is Pacì Paciana?

His real name was Vincenzo Pacchiana and was born in Poscante, a small mountain hamlet in the town of Zogno. (Today's hike takes us to Poscante.) Pacì Paciana is a legend in Val Brembana and is sometimes referred to as the Robin Hood of Val Brembana.

In a nutshell, Pacì was a good man gone bad because he was falsely accused of a crime he didn't commit (circa 1804). He went on the lamb and then he really did commit crimes, becoming a bandit (brigante). But those crimes being robbing the rich to pay the poor – or so the legend goes – he endeared himself to the locals.

His character is very much alive in the traditional Bergamasco puppet (burattino) shows.  Pacì is a stock character, friend of Giopì, the guy with three large goiters. Here's a video/song Luciano Ravasio Pacì Paciana brigante-burattino – sung in the Bergamasco dialect. Enjoy.

Why is this grotto named after him?


We don't know, but perhaps creative naming? It's likely Pacì hid out in the hills around the grotto since this area was his stomping grounds. Maybe he even used this grotto.  By the looks of it, it didn't seem to be a comfortable place to spend the night, so we'll go with creative naming or maybe napping place.

 

Where is the grotto?


The grotto is located just off of Trail 507, the segment between Canto Alto and Canto Basso. The grotto is not right on the trail, but descending toward Canto Basso, it's off to the right, closer to Canto Basso then Canto Alto.

We came up our usual way from Bergamo following Trail 533 and then following signage to Canto Alto. We never intended to hit Canto Alto, instead turning right on Trail 507 here. You could also make your way to Canto Basso and then climb a lot less back up Trail 507 to find the grotto.

 

And then what?


After looking for bandits, what is one to do? We decided a loop. We continued on Trail 507 following it all the way down to Ripa (a hamlet of Poscante) and then to Poscante. At Poscante, we climbed back out on Trail 504A and then Trail 531B reaching the Forcella di Monte Nese, and then it was back home. The second half of Trail 531B was steep.

The area around Poscante is renowned for it's production of chestnuts, or biligòcc. As you reach Castegnone (the big chestnut? not really, but close), you will see what are called secadùr, structures that you might mistake for an abandoned building, but are really for drying chestnuts with a constant heat and smoke. You can see some examples of these chestnut drying rooms at the site Sulla Via delle castagne al Canto Alto, fra i segreti dei biligòcc di Poscante.

After the drying process, chestnuts are passed through cold water rinse which makes them contract. The chestnuts of Poscante are said to be the most beautiful because the final step is to shine chestnuts with a little oil. The festival of chestnuts is held in Castegnone in late November. It will be on our list next year to see just how shiny those chestnuts are.


Flora

A couple of special mentions this hike for flora spotted:

  • This is the first time in a few years we have come across Leucojum vernum – Spring Snowflake. It was in deep shade on the north side of Canto Alto. L. vernum is in the Amaryllis family, the same as Galanthus nivalis – Snowdrop, that we found near the summit of Canto Alto, several weeks earlier. The genus name Leucojum derives from the Greek word: “leukòs” meaning white and “ion” meaning violet, probably referring to the white color of the flower and the scent. The specific epithet vernum means springtime, referring to the time flowers appear. All species of Leucojum are poisonous. This plant is to enjoy visually only.
  • Petasites albus or White butterbur is always a bit of a surprise to find. In the brown, still-sleeping late-winter ground, you find this bright spot of color pushing up. A rough translation of the Italian Wikipedia page for this plant claims that it was Dioscorides (c. 40 AD – c. 90 AD) who first named this plant Petasites referring to the large leaves similar to the petàsos a large-brimmed hat used by travelers of his time. Hats off to this early spring splash of color!
  • We don't do ferns usually, but while leaving Poscante and heading up to Forcella di Monte Nese, we couldn't help but notice the abundance of ferns, in particular as we climbed toward Castagnone. The most obvious species is Asplenium scolopendrium – Hart's Tongue Fern. (A "hart" is an adult male red deer.) The sori pattern of A. scolopendrium looks like centipede or millipede legs, and scolopendrium is Latin for "centipede".


[Amaryllidaceae] Leucojum vernum – Spring Snowflake {Campanelle comuni}
[Asplenianceae] Asplenium scolopendrium – Hart's Tongue Fern {Scolopendria comune}
[Asteraceae] Petasites albus – White Butterbur {Farfaraccio bianco}
[Boraginaceae] Pulmonaria officinalis – Common Lungwort {Polmonaria maggiore}
[Primulaceae] Primula vulgaris – Primrose {Primula comune}
[Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger – Christmas rose {Elleboro nero}

Some of the resources used to identify plants are discussed in the post Resources for Identifying Plants around Bergamo.



[Amaryllidaceae] Leucojum vernum – Spring Snowflake {Campanelle comuni}[Amaryllidaceae] Leucojum vernum – Spring Snowflake {Campanelle comuni}[Amaryllidaceae] Leucojum vernum – Spring Snowflake {Campanelle comuni}
[Amaryllidaceae] Leucojum vernum – Spring Snowflake {Campanelle comuni}

[Asplenianceae] Asplenium scolopendrium – Hart's Tongue Fern {Scolopendria comune}[Asplenianceae] Asplenium scolopendrium – Hart's Tongue Fern {Scolopendria comune}[Asplenianceae] Asplenium scolopendrium – Hart's Tongue Fern {Scolopendria comune}
[Asplenianceae] Asplenium scolopendrium – Hart's Tongue Fern {Scolopendria comune}

[Asteraceae] Petasites albus – White Butterbur {Farfaraccio bianco}[Asteraceae] Petasites albus – White Butterbur {Farfaraccio bianco}[Asteraceae] Petasites albus – White Butterbur {Farfaraccio bianco}
[Asteraceae] Petasites albus – White Butterbur {Farfaraccio bianco}

[Boraginaceae] Pulmonaria officinalis – Common Lungwort {Polmonaria maggiore}[Primulaceae] Primula vulgaris – Primrose {Primula comune}[Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger – Christmas rose {Elleboro nero}
[Boraginaceae] Pulmonaria officinalis – Common Lungwort {Polmonaria maggiore}
[Primulaceae] Primula vulgaris – Primrose {Primula comune}
[Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger – Christmas rose {Elleboro nero}



Trail Photos




Description of "La via delle castagne" and the stops from Zogno to Poscante.The inside of the Chiesa della Beata Vergine del Carmine - Poscante.The outside of the Chiesa della Beata Vergine del Carmine - Poscante.`The outside of the Chiesa della Beata Vergine del Carmine - Poscante.
Left: Description of "La via delle castagne" and the stops from Zogno to Poscante.
Center: The inside of the Chiesa della Beata Vergine del Carmine - Poscante.
Right: The outside of the Chiesa della Beata Vergine del Carmine - Poscante.


The inside of Grotta Pacì Paciana.The path leading to the grotto.
Left: The inside of Grotta Pacì Paciana.
Right: The path leading to the grotto.


Various views of the hike from Bergamo to Poscante, roundtrip.Various views of the hike from Bergamo to Poscante, roundtrip.Various views of the hike from Bergamo to Poscante, roundtrip.
Various views of the hike from Bergamo to Poscante, roundtrip.


View of Canto Basso.View of Canto Basso.
Views of Canto Basso.


A tombstone - marker along Trail 531B.Birch trees near Canto Basso.
Left: A tombstone - marker along Trail 531B.
Right: Birch trees near Canto Basso.


The trail from Poscante up to Castegnone.Trail 507 from Canto Basso to Ripa.A trailside altar along Trail 531B.
Left: The trail from Poscante up to Castegnone.
Center: Trail 507 from Canto Basso to Ripa.
Right: A trailside altar along Trail 531B.


View from Trail 507 descending into Ripa.Walking along fields below Ripa to get to Poscante.Above Castegnone heading to the Forcella di Monte Nese.
Left: View from Trail 507 descending into Ripa.
Center: Walking along fields below Ripa to get to Poscante.
Right: Above Castegnone heading to the Forcella di Monte Nese.

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