Mountain - Hiking Itineraries: Croce del Pratomagno from Rocca Ricciarda

Rocca Ricciarda
It  was late. Too much honestly. And really cold. At 4 pm the sun was supposed to set and the ridge was still relatively far. It was about 3 pm and we weren't sure about our progresses. The beautiful round summit of Pratomagno, covered in snow, had been visible until the last bend of the path that now looked suspicious. Its direction was fine but it wasn't rising as expected... 
The summit!
My son and I examinated the map and concluded that we were too low, somewhere in the forest a 100 m under the dirty road leading to the pass. We decided to gain some elevation to see if we could reach it but the slopes were steep and slippery. I slipped indead on the wet foliage and could just direct my fall to the base of a beech, avoiding to plummet all the way down to the path.
The dirty road was somwhere up there but we couldn't reach it that way. We decided to walk in parallel with the previous path and I think we saved a little time because finally we came across the pass. It was defintely late. We still had to lunch but I didn't want to eat my sandwich before we get to the top. 
The light was already fading when we step on the ridge: we could see the summit in the distance, marked by the characteristic red iron cross. A uniform layer of snow was covering the northern side of the ridge, while several icy patches were left on the southern side. Nobody in sight. A complete silence. Unreal!
We didn't talk. We hurried up. We reached the summit, took some pictures, ate our lunch - so cold it had no taste - and we started descending the vertical way down, made dangerous by the snow. No time to enjoy the view, but I felt happy because I had done it. 
Working on Saturday, it's hard to wake up early on Sunday. We had left Florence at after 10 am. One hour driving toward Arezzo, then to the village of Rocca Ricciarda, that deserves itself a visit, also because of the small food shop. Unfortunately we had no time to eat there, we just bought two sandwiches and attacked the climb. It was a cold cloudy day. 
On the ridge
From Rocca Ricciarda we took the CAI path n. 21, very steep and crossing a beautiful chestnut forest. Eventually it reached a dirty roead and we had two options: to go right on the road for one airpin and then again on the CAI path n.21, basicly a direct way up to the summit, or to go left and to follow the road until the end, where it turns in a path, gets into the beech forest, crosses some streams and reaches the ridge by a  longer but less steep way. We went left but we weren't so sure about our decision. Anyway we couldn't go back, moreover we didn't want, because we knew the summit wasn't so far. Neither so close...
Croce del Pratomagno
When we got into the chestnut forest, again it was dark. We were still able to detect our feet and I left my lamp into my backpack. We arrived to the village at 5.30 pm, the food shop was closed and we had to give up on their delicious chestnuts' pancakes. Next time! We found the car and took off our boots: god! I was freezing! Time to drive home. Time to think to the solitary summit in the silent night, in the big moon light... Time to feel I was still there, somehow, and to shiver in dread and desire.

Time: 5 hours
Elevation: 651 m
Where: Pratomagno, Tuscany, Italy
Start and finish: Rocca Ricciarda (940 m)
Summit: Croce del Pratomagno (1591 m)
Signals: CAI 21 (red and white) to the dirty road (red signal), here on the left untill the tarmac road, then CAI 00 to the summit. Direct way down: CAI 21 (red and white).
Things to see: the forest of chestnuts and beeches, Croce del Pratomagno (1591 m), the view, including Monte Amiata!
Monte Amiata in the distance

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