Incontri autentici con il territorio: l’alta Valle del Savio
La Fattoria dell’Autosufficienza is a pearl set in an area of great natural beauty, in that hinterland of Romagna at the crossroads of paths, where every valley has always echoed the song of its river.
It is the Savio that marks it, that draws it. He has been able to shape the outline of the valley over the millennia, excavating rocks, creating terraces, carrying stones and clays with his torrents. It is his silver thread that unites the people from the plains to the mountains, and if you listen to them well you can understand where in the valley they were born. Where Life has laid them down. They change their speech from kilometre to kilometre and measure the distances from the filling of their cappelletti or crescioni. But the heart that is open to hospitality is the same, and the gestures of offering a piadina and a glass of Sangiovese remain the only access cards to every encounter.
Here, history – even ancient and illustrious history – only acts as a backdrop to the shared vicissitudes of an Apennine that was abandoned after World War II and now wants to be reborn. It wants to make itself known and to revive itself.
It is only on foot that you can truly encounter this territory: strolling through villages where people greet you even if they have never seen you before; rediscovering ancient mule tracks dotted with orchids and ridge paths that offer unforgettable views; reaching ancient parish churches, places of silence and prayer; or visiting small repopulated villages, where courageous pioneers devote themselves to traditional crafts and respectful agriculture. Or going up streams like crayfish in summer and bowing your head in front of the ruins of old mills, overgrown with brambles. Those, too, are sacred places. There the fox and the deer meet to drink in the moonlight, and the tawny owl sings on the highest branch of the old Alder.
Letting our steps lightly retrace the footsteps of those who have gone before us, following the rhythm of our breathing in a silence that becomes a serene mental void, we are surprised at how the encounter with this land and its inhabitants soon becomes an encounter with ourselves, with our nature, with our deepest and most authentic desires.
Arianna Rigoni – Tour Guide and Environmental Hiking Guide
EXCURSIONS WITH ARIANNA
I love to share my knowledge of the territory to which I belong through routes that are not beaten by tourism and not flattened by conformism. And therefore not ‘fixed’ but variable and adaptable, just as I myself am naturally on the move every day and enrich my story (and my knowledge) with new encounters and experiences.
I prefer to accompany small groups so that I can truly dedicate myself to meeting each person, and guide each one on a small journey of immersion in the authentic life of this part of the world. “Small” for me is synonymous with care, even of the detail.
And yes, it is authenticity that I cherish in the encounter. No pretence, no sweetened tales or glitter to make surfaces shine: Beauty is there, it is there in light and shadow, only our eyes are no longer used to recognising it.
And if everything acts as a mirror, the moment we open our hearts to the Beauty of an encounter (with a landscape, an animal, a tree or a flower, an inhabitant of these places or even an ancient monument), then we are finally able to recognise once again the Beauty that lives within each of us.
“Walking is, with every step, an encounter with ourselves” – (R.Tagore)
CONTACT LA FATTORIA DELL’AUTOSUFFICIENZA (tel. 3358137979 o firstname.lastname@example.org) AND BOOK YOUR PERSONALISED TOUR OF THE HIGH SAVIO VALLEY!
DEPENDING ON YOUR INTERESTS, WISHES AND AVAILABLE TIME, ARIANNA WILL BE ABLE TO SUGGEST THE MOST SUITABLE TOUR EXPERIENCE FOR YOU. TAKE A LOOK AT THE THEMATIC AREAS DESCRIBED… AND BE INSPIRED!
In the upper Savio Valley there are several virtuous realities created by people who have decided to return to living in contact with nature, in a more sustainable and careful way. There are those who made this choice 30-40 years ago, those who have recently started up; those who have dedicated themselves to organic farming, those who have put the principles of permaculture into practice, those who have specialised in herbalist practices or handicrafts, those who have decided to breed animals in a healthy way and have dedicated themselves to the production of food derived from this activity; those who have found themselves designing and experimenting with educational models in nature and those who have made sustainable hospitality their mission…
In short: brave pioneers there are! Their doors are open, their willingness to show and tell their stories is unique. A tour of these realities can be extremely useful for clarifying doubts, for making decisions, for realising that it really is possible to become the change we want to see in the world.
In addition to the wonderful proposal developed by La Fattoria dell’Autosufficienza and linked to the widespread community of Earth Keepers, with Arianna you can go and visit those virtuous realities in the area that interest you most, meet those who founded them and those who work there, and spend a few hours in their company.
A few examples? Of course, the closest Earth Keepers (such as Satanassi & Bosch’s Remedia and Massimo Corbara’s Biopificio), but also the Il Pagliaio agritourism, the Santa Lucia winery, the ‘Il Salice’ Indian Park and/or other people who have not created real farms but live in the countryside or in small ecovillages, devote themselves to art, crafts, horticulture, herb and mushroom picking, truffle hunting, etc.
SACRED PLACES IN NATURE AND IN VILLAGES
There is a Way that encloses the territories of the Savio Valley like a magic casket: the Way of St. Vicinius, the thaumaturge and evangelising saint who lived in Sarsina in the 4th century, which still attracts thousands of pilgrims eager to receive a blessing with his famous “chain”, an object of worship linked to the saint and also used during exorcisms.
The sacred places that dot the Way are to be found both in the centre of the area’s small communities (basilicas, churches, cathedrals) and in the surrounding woods and countryside: ancient evocative parish churches, forgotten oratories, monasteries and hermitages isolated in the mountains, surrounded by columns of fir and beech trees.
Even if it is not devotion that moves you, the encounter with the sacredness of these places is a balm for the soul.
A few examples? Obviously the Cathedral Basilica of Sarsina and that of Santa Maria Assunta in Bagno di Romagna; but also the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Corzano, the Abbey of San Salvatore or the Parish Church of Montesorbo. Not to mention the Hermitage of Sant’Alberico or the Hermitage of Camaldoli, or those numerous small churches scattered among the hills, crumbling and deconsecrated, such as the one on Monte di Careste, that have taken on a special charm over the years…
HISTORY AND STORIES
Few people really know anything about it, but because of its geographical position and the richness of its territory, the upper Savio Valley has been affected by History, the one with a capital S, over the centuries: battles of conquest, the building of infrastructures, trade and exchanges have affected the towns of this inland passage.
There are many precious monuments, testimonies that time has spared and that leave the visitor open-mouthed: you can see them in Sarsina, the birthplace of Titus Maccius Plautus, with its millenary Cathedral and the Archaeological Museum full of Roman finds, or in Bagno di Romagna, already famous in antiquity for its thermal baths; but also in Mercato Saraceno where the ancient Pieve di Montesorbo is visible, and down as far as Cesena…
One day is not enough to see everything, but it can be interesting to be guided on a historical-archaeological walk and let the tale of history intertwine with that of more recent ‘stories’ of life… Ask the guide and the locals you meet along the way!
If the Savio is the great sage that accompanies with its song the journey of all the inhabitants of the valley to its mouth (a little south of Ravenna), it is really worth climbing up to Monte Fumaiolo and stopping just before, on the western slope, to walk to its source and drink the cold water that even in summer springs from the belly of the mountain.
It is said that the name ‘Fumaiolo’ has something to do with ‘fiume’ – river: rich in rivers, rich in water. And indeed, the area is rich in springs: just below the summit of Fumaiolo the Tiber, an illustrious river ‘sacred to the destinies of Rome’, has its source, and at the base of the southern slope are the Senatello springs. A few kilometres in that direction and you can reach the source of the Marecchia River, which flows into Rimini.
Waterways were the first and most important communication routes for mankind, and they draw the geography of a territory, determining the rise or demise of inhabited centres. Without water, there is no life.
Thus it can be particularly evocative, especially in summer, to walk up the course of the Savio river or its tributaries (such as the Para stream), to rest one’s gaze on the sheets of water of the Pontini and Lungo lakes, to admire the grandeur of the Ridracoli dam or to walk along the gradually wilder path that irregularly surrounds the basin of Lake Quarto, where numerous species of amphibians, fish, mammals and aquatic birds populate the large reed thicket or the flooded forest areas.
THE PATHS THROUGH VILLAGES AND APENNINE WOODS
In addition to St Vicinius Walk and other paths that skirt the Upper Savio Valley (Via Romea Germanica and the St. Francis Walk from Rimini to La Verna), the territory offers many opportunities for trekking in the most varied environments: from hill ridges to mountain slopes, from river and stream beds to high-altitude forests, passing through small villages and hamlets that are almost completely abandoned.
In the space of a few kilometres, the scenery varies greatly and the differences in altitude can also be challenging. The mountain paths (especially in the nearby Park of the Casentino Forests) are well signposted and kept alive by the constant presence of assiduous walkers, but it is always a good idea to go with an environmental excursion guide to identify the best route and fully enjoy the experience of encountering the territory… by walking!
THE CUISINE OF TRADITION
A few lines are not enough to talk about the traditional cuisine of Romagna and in particular that of the upper Savio Valley: from homemade pasta to piadina and crescioni stuffed with pumpkin and potatoes, from roast meats to fresh and seasoned cheeses, from side dishes with wild herbs to typical desserts, such as the Easter pagnotta of Sarsina or castagnaccio.
By now, many culinary artists use only organic and fresh products, often self-produced, and adapt recipes to modern dietary requirements while maintaining the taste of tradition.
Not to mention the wines! The Mercato Saraceno area is rich in wineries and you can easily enjoy a good organic Sangiovese or an Albana of the best. In short: our tour cannot miss at least one food and wine stop!
ART AND CRAFTSMANSHIP
Art as man’s sublime expressive capacity, perhaps in relation to his surroundings, can also be a monument, a mill, a mural, a square. And not necessarily an exhibition of paintings or photographs or sculptures, although even these works speak to us of the human aspiration to create, to express, to leave a mark. We welcome artistic events if there are any during your stay in the valley (the guide will inform you, if you wish!), but you will see that each tour will bring you closer in some way, sometimes surprisingly and mysteriously, to the art that is widespread in this territory, especially outside the towns…
There are still those who hand down ancient crafts (such as shoemaking or basket-making), those who paint scenes of sylvan and fairy life, those who mould clay to make objects for everyday use, those who work with leather and those who experiment with vegetable dyes or specialise in completely handmade cosmetics.
The time one spends making things with one’s hands, whether works of art or craft, is a time rich in gifts and filled with love. It is not so easy to meet those who dedicate themselves to it: they are often simple people, strangers to the virtual world or the classic channels of communication. But they are the true custodians of the knowledge that is and will remain vital for mankind. To meet them is a rare privilege!
With her gaze always turned to the wide horizon and her roots firmly anchored in her homeland of Romagna, Arianna considers every encounter a true enrichment.
It is her mercurial nature that has driven her since her teenage years to study foreign languages and to travel around Europe (particularly Germany), immersing herself in ‘other’ cultures with naturalness and ease. In 2005, she graduated from the School for Interpreters in Forlì with a thesis on Russian literature. It is not so much the language itself that fascinates her, but the possibility of building bridges, of weaving relationships, of seeing one’s own history reflected in other histories and vice versa.
It is with this spirit that she moves through various working environments (translations, teaching, event organisation and tourist reception at the ITU in Sarsina) and finally arrives in 2011 at the herbalist company Remedia, where she can put her communication skills at the service of a large and virtuous project. Here, in fact, even plants speak, and the respectful and attentive relationship with them creates that Beauty that can cure.
This is where the desire to accompany visitors to the meeting with the places of Nature and with those people who, through their works, bear witness to its messages of unity, harmony and wellbeing comes to the fore. In 2016 she became a Tourist Guide and in 2021 an Environmental Hiking Guide. With simplicity and enthusiasm she shows the treasures of her land, tells its more or less ancient stories, lets the silence of sacred places speak to the hearts and lets the encounter happen, becoming a shared experience.