The SS63 across the Appenines from Tuscany in to Emilia Romagna is a fantastic drive. The road winds around the mountains with different and more amazing views at every corner. We were heading towards Modena but were enjoying the area enormously and in the mild spring weather we opted to stay at Camping Le Fonti near Cervarezza Terme (Busana) for a few days and enjoy some mountain serenity and walking.
Camping Le Fonti is open all year round and has plenty of shade under chestnut and beech trees for the heat of summer. In spring it is quieter and the site offers an ACSI discount and pitches on the higher parts of the site out of the trees and with panoramic views over the surrounding countryside. From our lofty pitch we could see the distinctive crags of the flat-topped Pietra di Bismantova a few kilometres away, dramatic in the evening sunset.
This is a large and rambling hillside site at 1,000 metres above sea level and in season it has everything for family camping with a restaurant, shop, organised activities and indoor pool. We don’t really need these things and were grateful to get fresh bread every morning, heated facilities in the chilly evenings and good hot showers.
The campsite is family-run and when we arrived mama was on reception. Although she spoke limited English we received a friendly welcome and managed to order bread [that her husband delivered in the morning] and get hold of a sketch map for the walk up Monte Ventasso, a steep-sided 1,727 metre high mountain that is clearly a popular walk from the campsite.
Monte Ventasso proved to be a fantastic full-day outing. The way-marked path initially climbs steadily through beautiful sun-dappled beech woods dotted with wood anemone, primroses and wild crocuses. If you don’t want to walk to the summit you could just go as far as the chapel and refuge at St Maria Maddalena and picnic here enjoying the marvellous views over the Secchia valley. Alternatively, in hot weather you could take the woodland paths to Lago Calamone, a pretty glacial lake below the mountain that is perfect for summer bathing.
We had lunch at the refuge below the rocky crags of the east flanks of Monti Ventasso before carrying on. The steep, narrow and rocky path up the east ridge was exposed in places but brings you to the wide and grassy ridge to the summit. We passed a curious wooden hinged figure on the way and met our first other walkers of the day, a German couple who were also on the campsite.
The summit is marked by a cross and we had views of the distinctive Pietra di Bismantova and a wide flat valley. Lago Calamone was immediately below us and in the further distance were higher snowy mountains. We took the direct route down that was steep and difficult. We reached the picturesque Lago Calamone and sat watching a group of young men enthusiastically playing football on the shore. We climbed upwards across scree slopes of large boulders and below the craggy face of Monti Ventasso to join our previous path, returning the same way, stopping for a rest and chocolate bars at the view point. We returned to our campervan tired but happy after walking about ten miles and climbing about 742 m of ascent.
Directions: From the A1 take the exit for Reggio Nell ‘Emilia and follow the SS63 to Cervarezza Terme. The campsite is signposted beyond Castelnovo ne Monfi.