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The Giant

Article published in Motociclismo magazine in 2004.

It is the last mountainous buttress of our peninsula, solitary, majestic, imposing, inaccessible, little known, but so fascinating that it deserves a trip. Aspromonte is a mountain of strong and jarring contrasts, between steep ridges of rocks and forests, with its reliefs and the sea that surrounds it as if it were an island.

Read the story published in the magazine.

Rugged, wild, difficult, but fascinating, lonely but uncontaminated for long stretches, its history was probably, from a naturalistic and landscape point of view, its fortune, today even more protected by the institution of the national park which is also contributing to overcoming preconceptions that attributed a negative image rooted in time. This is why the best way to get to know the Aspromonte is certainly to indulge and give it time, not limited to visiting the most famous centers or listed in the following lines, which in themselves offer a very valid reason to visit, but getting infected from the curiosity that will lead you to discover alternative routes and places that will bring you even closer to the heart of the "mountain".
Its name derives from the Greek àspros which means white. Here nature is unique for the strong contrasts between its mountains that reach up to 2000m above sea level and the sea that surrounds it, making it in fact an island welded to the continent.
Some indicate its northern border point, the only terrestrial one, with the Careri stream, the Platì tributary and the Calabro stream.
Others move the limit further north, including the Lìmina plain, a marshy plateau located at 820m. from which on fine days it is possible to expand the view to embrace the 2 seas.
However, we will also include Stilo located slightly further north for 2 valid reasons.
First, because the spectacular village nestled at the foot of Mount Consolino deserves much more than a hasty visit. Its "Cattolica", a true and unique jewel of Byzantine art and architecture, is very famous, it also boasts an interesting historic center, embellished with its cathedral (13th century), the beautiful dolphin fountain and dominated by the remains of a Norman castle.
Secondly, because the ss110, towards the Pietra Spada pass, which we will follow up to the intersection with the ss501, suggests that the next few days will be truly exciting for the quality of the roads and the joy of driving.
Recommendation: traffic is often almost non-existent but pay attention to the quality of the road surface, which can sometimes change suddenly even from one curve to another, and often, very often, we are talking about a few tens of meters.
But speaking in enthusiastic terms of the views that the Aspromonte paths can offer appears immediately superfluous. All the roads that you will choose to travel even without considering these trivial lines, but simply by letting yourself be guided only and simply by curiosity will offer you the opportunity to float suspended in a landscape constantly poised on breathtaking views !!
The dual personality of the road system is well represented (and not only in this case) in the stretch from Mammola to Cinquefrondi: up to the Lìmina pass, a well-maintained and extremely safe asphalt, afterwards, a road at the limit of practicability.
Gerace, the ancient Jerax (sparrow hawk), is another gem not to be missed. Legend has it that a group of refugees from "Locri Epizephiri", who escaped the Saracen assault on the coast, were led by a sparrow hawk who took them to the top of the cliff, flat as a table, where the city was built and from which you can enjoy one of the most enchanting views of the Ionian coast. History later made her the master of a vast surrounding territory. Needless to say, the city coat of arms features the image of a bird of prey ("hierax" in Greek).
A rich and powerful past, testified by the 79 churches (only 16 remain), 12 convents and 8 monasteries. The Byzantine-Norman cathedral stands out above all, the largest church in Calabria, which houses a museum where its treasure is also exhibited.
But the corners to be discovered walking through the alleys that connect its different nuclei (the village, the hamlet and the upper city) are truly innumerable.
The ss183 crosses the massif and the park longitudinally: a solitary road (on a weekday in the section between Bagaladi and Gambarie we only crossed 2 cars), winding, suggestive, sometimes not in perfect condition, but always fascinating.
While having fun driving our motorcycles, you will certainly be amazed at how long it can take to travel a few hundred meters as the crow flies: a truly unique morphological structure of the territory but definitely suitable for motorcycling.
Recommended detours: the Garibaldi stone, a squared building that recalls the place where the general was wounded in the clash of 29 August 1862 between Garibaldi and the regular troops (the pine where he was laid, wounded, the hero of the 2 worlds is protected by a railing ); the sanctuary of the Madonna dei Polsi, whose ancient foundation is linked to the legend of an ox who unearthed a Byzantine cross with its horns. The road, about 15 km, is not in good condition for a change.
And the situation will not change to reach Roghudi. Let's assume that this is our favorite destination due to its location, streets and charm.
Discovered in October, in a previous excursion, in our opinion it is worth a visit every time you pass through these parts. Of little importance is the fact that the path is often uncomfortable, long, so much so that the 22 km that separate this handful of houses now abandoned from the SS183 appear many more.
The apparition is sudden and amazing: on the other side of the valley, coming from Roccaforte del Greco, the river appears, which tortuously draws the way towards the sea, the village glued to a rocky spur, a path-road that rises steeply towards another small abandoned town, before attempting an arduous climb to the top of Mount Lestì.
It is from there that we will try to escape by traveling suspended in the void until the view opens again on the sea and on the castle of Bova.
We believe Roghudi represents one of the most interesting examples of man's adaptation to an aggressive and difficult to control nature, one of the most fascinating. Tragically tried in 1951, it was definitively abandoned after the umpteenth flood landslides in 1971.
We are, momentarily, in a fairytale world: silence is unreal!
If you have reached this point, you will surely be able to walk and finish the path towards Bova.
The worst stretch, but which is covered by all means, is the one that from Ghorio descends to the Amendolea river and climbs towards Roghudi, about 7km.
Believe us, even with a street bike it's worth it.
Bova is worth a stop, especially between June and July, when the Greek festival is held, during which all the members of the ancient Greek community of Calabria meet, with typical costumes and traditional dances. A visit to the Norman castle is not to be missed, from which you can enjoy a total and dominant view of the coast and the mountains.
The steam locomotive in Piazza Ferrovieri d'Italia, next to Piazza Roma, is very curious.
The sea is only 14 km away. And now? You could throw in the towel trying to reach the A3, arterial road recirculation system, heading north, but fortunately the advice does not end there.
We will list them coldly but the choice is certainly much wider.
Consider that visits almost always require you to walk the road twice but be indulgent.
Pentadattilo: five fingers, the ancient "Pentedaktjlos", a small hamlet now reduced to a ghost town clinging to a reddish sandstone cliff that vaguely resembles a giant hand, recognized as one of the most unique and characteristic of Calabria.
Palizzi: its houses with red roofs are set in high rock walls and the scenic remains of a dark stone castle dominate the village. Coming from the super winding road, the impression is of absolute photogenicity. Not enough for you? Continue to Pietrapennata, truly immersed in an alpine landscape.
Bombile: fantastic view of the Condoianni river, but take the opportunity to visit the sanctuary of the Madonna della Grotta, entirely excavated in a high white sandstone wall, from which you can enjoy a fantastic view as far as the sea, founded in the sixteenth century by an Augustinian friar .

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