A long but very gentle stage with virtually no positive climbs, all on excellent paths. We end the day in the picturesque Centro Le Miniere di Fondachelli.
Water points only in the last section (from Figheri), replenish your supplies well in Postoleoni.
We leave Postoleoni and walk up and down a comfortable dirt track, as on the previous stages, always following the ridge. The landscape is characterised by Mediterranean scrub: Heather, broom, ferns... At the northern pass of Pizzo Batteddu, we catch sight of the imposing silhouette of Rocca Novara (1,340 m), “the Matterhorn of Sicily”, to the west.
A few kilometres later, from the southern shoulder of Pizzo Daini, we start to lose altitude. As we approach Colla Bassa, we cross a wind farm. Then we leave the ridge and descend slowly (about 300 m drop) between Monte Paiano and Monte Sereno towards Fondachelli, surrounded by hazel groves.
Just before the hamlet of Figheri, we leave the dirt road and switch to asphalt. Then we cross the valley floor with the Fiumara Madridi and climb (about 150 m height difference) still on the road until we reach the Centro Le Miniere.
Bivio Colla Bassa is located in the municipality of Fondachelli-Fantina, a scattered municipality between the Peloritani and Nebrodi mountains. Until the 1950s, the valley belonged to the municipality of Novara di Sicilia. The name Fondachelli comes from a mediaeval building complex that was used as a warehouse.
There were numerous mines on the banks of the Patrì River: the silver mines brought wealth to the silver smelters of Messina. Sandstone was also mined, which made the stonemasons of Novara famous.
Gallo-Italian (or Gallo-Sicilian), one of the High Italian dialects of Sicily, is spoken in this area.
The area of Novara di Sicilia and Fondachelli has been called “Sicilian Lombardy”, with a dialect that originated from Lombard immigration during the Middle Ages (in Norman times, the Altavilla family encouraged immigration from northern Italy by granting land and privileges). Today, these ancient linguistic islands are in danger of disappearing due to the homogenisation of the language.
The Rocca Novara (1,340 m), a sharp-edged peak known as the “Matterhorn of Sicily”, separates the area of Fondachelli from that of Novara di Sicilia. It is also known as Rocca Salvatesta, probably because the Novarese took refuge there during the Arab invasions and were later recalled by the invaders themselves.
One of the highest mountains in the Peloritani, its truncated cone shape was the point of reference for the local population and sailors, which is why it was also called “Neptune’s Mountain”; it represents a viewpoint from which to enjoy a 360° panorama. The limestone rock rises from the seabed and is rich in shells and fossilised fish. At the foot of the peak, the settlement of Noa (the first inhabited area of Novara) was established and there are numerous artefacts and the remains of ancient buildings. On the summit, which is characterised by a wide green open space, there is a black cross that serves as a place of pilgrimage on 18 August. At the foot of the mountain rises the Rocca Leone, a rock in the shape of a crouching lion.
The Fondachelli area is known for the production of hazelnuts, an emblematic product of the local confectionery industry.
In particular, pasticceria di Enzo Catania (Enzo Catania’s pastry shop) is a true masterpiece of tradition and goodness, an artisan business where Enzo keeps the family tradition alive: Cannoli (he made a 110 kg one for the Pope), Cassatelle, almond paste (the one with lemon zest is fantastic)...
Hazelnut remains the protagonist, especially in nougat and pralines. Hazelnut grappa is also produced in the region.
A typical product from Messina is ricotta infornata, a delicious way of preserving the famous by-product of cheese-making.
The unsold ricotta is baked in a wood-fired oven where it rests for a few days. It has a firm consistency and is characterised by its amber colour. Excellent for pasta alla Norma, with fried aubergines…
Agriturismo La Quercia, in contrada Pozzi (about 3 km before Figheri). Tel. +39338 162 1431
Centro Le Miniere, in Fondachelli. For bookings, please write to: email@example.com
The starting point is reachable by car.
The starting point is NOT reachable by bus.
The nearest location that can be reached by bus is Mandanici, starting from the city of Messina and changing at Roccalumera.
Here is the LINK to check the timetables.
The starting point is NOT reachable by train.
Va' Sentiero is a grassroot project, thanks to the spontaneous contribution oft housands of people.
Even the most complicated dream, a 7,000km uphill dream,
can be achieved... together.