A unique hiking experience in Italy at Monti Sibilla
April 25, 2016
Last summer we crossed through Italy on our way to Greece and I was fortunate to experience one of the most awesome moments in my life. We camped in the region the Marche, a part of Italy that is less known to tourists. Everybody knows the romantic hills of Tuscany and the green heart of Italy, Umbria. But on the East side of the mountain range the Apennines, there you can find a special region: The Marche.
It is one of those places where you can see the mountains nearby while you are swimming in the sea. And in between you will find a landscape shaped by many hills with real Italian villages. We stayed at a 'agricamp' owned by a Dutch couple, Rob & Erna: Agricamp Picobello. A small camping in the middle of the hills, famous for it's view, big camp spots and immensely kind and passionated owners. Besides running the campsite, a b&b and their olive yard, they also organize all kind of activities. One of them is hiking together with Rob as a professional guide. A year before I was here, I had heard someone sharing his story about a night climb he had done with Rob, to see the sunrise at Monti Sibilla. He was so enthusiastic about this one of a kind experience that he made me promise if I ever had the opportunity, I would go there.
So that is how we ended up at Agricamp Picobello and signed up for the night climb. The climb was planned for Friday morning and we would leave around 3:00 AM. We tried to catch some sleep beforehand but well: 2,5 hours wasn't that much I must say. A group of around 11 people gathered in the dark on the parking lot. In two cars (Rob drives some kind of minivan) we drove to the foot of Monti Sibilla to start the climb at 1.500meters.
Armed with headlights and walking poles, with the stars above our heads, Rob guided us up the trail. We could only see a couple of meters in front of us and the street lights of the villages down in the valley . I had no clue where we were, how high or even how steep the slope was. It wasn't that easy, so I guessed it was quit steep. Every now and then, Rob would pauze so we could catch our breaths. At one point he told us we had reached the backbone of the mountain and were following it towards the top. Because I was curious how deep it actually was, I threw a little rock down. I never heard it touch the bottom. Hm, let's focus on the trail and not slip on this part...
Because we climbed higher and higher, the wind started to get stronger. Quickly everybody put on his extra clothes/raincoats/heats etc to keep warm. Near the end of the track, we had to climb some rocks to reach the top, using our hands. Rob guided everybody safely one by one up. We were almost there and it was now 5:30 in the morning. Until the break of dawn, we waited just below the top, hiding from the wind. Slowly our surroundings became visible. Our headlights weren't needed anymore but you still couldn't see far. At 5:50 Rob send us up to the top because at 6:00 o'clock the sun would rise from the sea...
There we were, standing at 2.173 meters high and witnessing the sun rising from the Italian sea. We were immensely lucky because of the clear sky: the view was clear all the way to the Croatian coast. The ball of light rising from the sea, made the curtains around us open up. Mountains became visible and bit by bit an amazing 360 degrees view revealed itself. Breathtaking, jaw dropping and all the other cliches you can think of where applicable for this moment. Suddenly you actually realized where you were and how high you had climbed. I can tell you: the beauty of the Apennines is absolutely astonishing...
After this magical moment, we started our way back down the mountain. It was weird to hike down a mountain that you see for the first time although you have walked the same route visa versa just some hours ago. Walking down the slopes, I realized I wouldn't have done this hike with daylight. I would have thought it was too steep up and too heavy to do. Oke, maybe the temperature during the day would have made it indeed more heavy, but still. Here I learned that I was capable of a lot more than I thought! A nice example of how much your brain can influence your physical performance.
Around 8 o'clock we reached the cars and drove to a nearby village for a real Italian breakfast and coffee. An awesome closure of such an intens and magical experience. You can image that I was already a sleep during the drive back to the camping. The rest of the day I spend sleeping outside in the shade, completely satisfied and full of memories.
Afterwards we found out that Rob made a movie of this hike! Watch it below: