Among the mountain villages of the Modena Apennines, there is one that is referred to as “beyond the water” by the locals, as it is situated on the left bank of the rivers Leo and Panaro as you travel up along the valley in the direction of Mount Cimone.
The village in question is Montese, an area rich in history, small hamlets, landscapes and good food.
The entire area belonging to Montese is crossed by a network of paths which winds for about 130 km, at an altitude of between 300 and 1,100 metres. The trails, which nowadays are open to walkers, horse-riders and mountain-bikers, follow the line of the ancient communication routes and old country roads which, crossing woods and farmed fields, linked isolated hamlets, watermills, castles and places of work and worship.
The trail, which offers a beautiful view over the area around Montese, starts at an altitude of 770 metres above sea level, from the Parish Church of Maserno: from here it continues onto Via Riva, continuing for about 1.5 km along a tarmacked road; at Cà di Grazia the path climbs up towards the right, turning into a lane further up.
The hamlet of Riva di Biscia is worth a detour, where there is an oratory which preserves frescoes from the fifteenth century. A stop at the Striscialacqua waterfall is also recommended; the force of its waters, falling from a height of 20 metres, turn a watermill dating to the eighteenth century.
The descent towards Rio San Martino and the following ascent are somewhat challenging, but well worth the effort! In the hamlet of San Martino, you can visit the picturesque seventeenth-century parish church.
The trail is 6.5 km long, and the round-trip takes around 4 hours in total.
From San Martino we move on next to the village of Montese, where culinary traditions never disappoint! As well as porcini mushrooms and chestnut flour, locally-grown potatoes carry the quality label “Patata di Montese”, which guarantees their unique quality and allows for a choice of white, yellow and red-skinned varieties. We also advise you to try the local “zampanelle” (a traditional kind of pancake) …..try them for yourselves, you won’t be disappointed!
After a delicious lunch including these and other local delicacies, we invite you to take a walk up to the thirteenth-century Montese Fortress, which once belonged to the Montecuccolo family. Noted for its double walls and crenelated tower, it offers wonderful, sweeping views. Within its walls the castle houses a Second World War Museum, with battle relics discovered in the local area.