Sacred Forest

Badia Prataglia to Casa Santicchio


It takes about 8 hours to walk from Badia Prataglia to La Verna. However, we decided to break it into two parts and booked a place in Casa Santicchio a bit off the main trail. It was wonderful not having to rush. The forest changed, the beech trees disappeared and made place for oak trees, juniper shrubs and mulberry trees. Sometimes, a sweet chestnut tree was spreading its branches down the hill, just making us aware of its presence. Vibrant yellow brooms filled the air with a sweet smell like jasmine. The whole area was a paradise for butterflies.


We hiked at an elevation between 800 and 1000 meters. Most of the time the path was covered by canopies of trees which kept us from becoming really hot.




It one point, it rained. The warm rain was actually refreshing








Chicory with butterflies




Carthusian pink




We tasted sweet Juniper berries and sometimes strawberries growing along the way




Ripe Juniper berries




Christi brought homemade apricot Schnaps for all of us




Sign for St. Francis way and to Casa Santicchio






Sometimes we passed little chapels and shrines






We assumed this to be a mulberry tree



Blooming blackberries with transparent blue butterfly



We stayed in a former farm house built in the 18th century called Casa Santicchio. The recent owners bought the place after it was abandoned for 30 years and made it into a gem. The amazing thing was that they lived in Milano before and were city people. I admired their courage.




In front of Casa Santiiccio




Self-made sauna (barrel) with pools in front of Casa Santicchio. In the distance, covered in clouds, you see Mount Penna, the goal of our next day.




We slept in a room used by the farmer as a school room for their 11 children. We were told that the teacher walked up each day from the village Rimbocchi to teach the children.



Laura was a great cook and made delicious vegetarian food for us. Normally, the place would have been filled with pilgrims. However, due to Covid, the group scheduled to be here at the same time we were here, had to cancel. We had the entire place to ourself.



As an appetiser, Laura served us original Tuscan soup



Eggplant overbaked with cheese, hummus mixed with red beets, pea spread, fennel mixed with bread crumbs, red pepper and cooked cabbage – delicious! Simple red house wine from Tuscany added to the feast.




The stem of the oak tree was bent when it was young in order to form a fence.




A charming house about 30 minutes walk away from Casa Santicchio




Stone wall overgrown by succulents – one of my favourite  plants



In former times, farmers built stone walls to free their fields from rocks and make terraces for their fields of potatoes, chickpeas and other crops. Now the terraces are of no use anymore and the forest took them over.


Old stone walls overgrown with moss and plants





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Born and raised in a village along the Danube in Austria, Traude Wild soon ventured out into the world. After a two-year program for tourism in Klesheim/Salzburg, she spent nearly a year in South Africa and Namibia. By returning back to Austria, she acquired a Master of Economics at the University of Vienna. After moving to the United States with her four children, she studied Art History at Arizona State University and stayed in the United States for fourteen years. Here, she was teaching Art History in several Universities like Webster University and University of Missouri-St. Louis. Now, she lives partially in Arizona and Vienna and works together with her husband for the University of South-Carolina, Moore School of business as Adjunct Professor organising and leading Study tours in Central Europe. She also teaches at the Sigmund Freud University in Vienna. Since 1999, she is practicing Zen meditation in the lineage of Katagiri Roshi. She loves to hike and to write and is a student of Natalie Goldberg. During her often many weeks long hikes she brings her awareness into the Here and Now, describing her experiences in an authentic way. She loves to walk pilgrimages. The longest hike so far was the 1,400 km long 88 Temple pilgrimage in Shikoku, Japan in 2016.

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