Simple hike, flat, with slight ups and downs and downhill, from Passo di Ropolà (about 450 m asl) to Contrada Badessa (about 250 m). We will start right from the foot of Monte San Junio with a view of the Jerà Akis (Sacred Peak) of Gerace and from here, initially in a cork forest and then among rocks, struts and pinnacles surrounded by thorny gorse, holm oaks and more we will have the opportunity to get lost with the look towards the Ionian coast, Monte Tre Pizzi, Monte Mutolo, Gerace, Zomaro and more.
The route begins inside the forest area of Ropolà, where there is a drinking water fountain useful for refueling, and following an initially asphalted track we will enter the wildlife restocking center (now abandoned). Reached the top, turn right onto a dirt road that leads to a path that overlooks the San Paolo valley with a splendid view towards Antonimina and Pietra della Morte (toponym probably derived from the legend that tells that a shepherd died there in an attempt to save one of his sheep). The path winds around a cork oak and leads us along a rocky mixture called “Cottonera”.
The environment from a geological, naturalistic and landscape point of view is pleasant and uncontaminated, it is a sort of protected park a stone’s throw from Gerace. The vegetation alternates from the cork oak to the holm oak up to the very luxuriant Mediterranean flora. The path is easy all the way and winds for the most part on the edge of the rock and on the banks of a basin of a waterfall, of which it is possible to see the erosions on the rock.
Once we reach the rock on which the signs of the cascading water flow are engraved and which represents one of the most pleasant places in the area, we will visit a centuries-old cork oak nearby. From here begins the ascent on uneven ground but the effort is rewarded by the games and embroideries of the rock eroded by atmospheric agents. You reach a narrow plateau where you must stop to enjoy the beauty of the place and the landscape. The place preserves caves that probably served as a shelter for men and beasts and there are signs of dry stone walls for the maintenance of the soil, indicative of cultivation.
The excursion will end by going to the Norman-Byzantine village of Gerace, where we will visit the Cathedral, the Norman Byzantine and the Crypt which houses the museum nucleus; the church of San Francesco with its marvelous baroque altar in inlaid marble, the bombarde, which is a lookout point used in past times, which overlooks the coast.
Time: about 4 hours, including excursion stops
Difference in height: about 150 meters.