It happens that one day I wake up and feel the need to go beyond the spaces of my daily life. I wake up before the alarm goes off, a ray of sun peeking through the curtains tells me that it is the right day to explore something new that I always see from a distance.
I want to know why the Manfriana peak is called “untouched”, “infinite”, “sacred”. This discovery will be hard, six hours of hiking. Manfriana is almost 2000 metres high, seventh highest summit of the Pollino massif. It has a form of pyramid with a mysterious rocks at its foot, some of them might have been part of an ancient Greek temple. They say, that the Pollino mountain might have been a place of worship in the times of Magna Grecia, when Greek colonists arrived here in the 8th century BC.
We start our journey from Civita with our official Pollino National park guide Luca D’Alba. He hopes one day to leave his job as a lawyer and devote his life to his passion: the mountains! First by car, then by foot we climb the paths following the sparse signs put up by the Italian Alpine club and few passionate hikers who love this land.
When we enter the Fagosa forrest silence envelopes us. Thousands of beech trees keep us company for more than an hour. In this quietude our hike is starting to feel like a spiritual pilgrimage to a sacred temple. The path is growing steeper with every step, the air is getting colder: we are ascending. I feel the strain of the climb.
We continue on the rocky ridge that seems infinite, a straight line that runs towards the Manfriana summit wrapped up in snow and clouds. Through dense for we manage to get a glimpse of other peaks, the Raganello canyon, tiny clusters of villages and towns clinging to the Coscile river. In front of us is Manfriana! Huge rocks that look like they are sculpted and chiselled reach for the sky. Who knows what their story is? We feel small in their formidable presence, and I catch myself thinking of kneeling, just like in front of a sacred temple. We stay there for a while, suspended from the height in the clouds and fog, our minds cleansed and ready for new thoughts.
Exploring a new place is always like a pilgrimage, you always bring something back. Images of the journey, the cloudy cold summit, the sacred silence of the forest are imprinted in my mind now. I don’t look at the Manfriana from a distance now, it is in my heart.
Tips: As hiking paths in the Pollino National park are not very well indicated it is better to hire an official guide. Trekking company Avventurieri del Sud runs hiking tours to Manfriana.
Text and photos by Stefania Emmanuele