If you happen to go up the Mareneve road…‚Äč

If you happen to go up the Mareneve road, you could stop along it every now and then; hop off your car and take a look at the vistas that take turns in a sort of relay race are given the change accompanying you in your excursion. I would like to tell you about the green worlds that slide behind you from Linguaglossa (550 mt on the sea level), up to 2200 mt: a short but intense trip that will let you know about men and plants that have been intertwining for thousands of years.

The first landscape you meet from the Circumetnea station is the one of terraced agriculture. The terraces are a historical witness of old traditions, bonded to the tenacious need to gain land to cultivate. The terraces fit in with the terrain, perfectly blending into it and joining the small stone steps, the “passi”.

Some small ‘mànnara’- a fence made out of the remains from the stone clearing, used as a sheep shelter - pop by here and there. On the terraces’ residues of vine cultivation - which used to go up to 800 m.a.s.l - can be seen together with some orchards.

Apart from that, the woods, thickets and bushes have taken over. The chestnut trees replace the vines at higher altitudes.

It used to be an area of cultivation and a point of pride for the locals, producing valuable timber, the vineyard poles , ’cuscialetti’ used for the roofs, ‘panari’ ,’coffe’ and of course fruits. Nowadays the landscape is left to itself and looks like a natural forest.

Going uphill, you can see the crop plants give way to the holm oak forests (Quercus ilex) and then to deciduous ones (Q. virgiliana, Q. congesta, Q. dalechampii).

They appear mixed in with chestnut trees and some dried-out orchards on the lower side, and with pines on the upper side.

This used to be the coalmen’s domain: the Piano Pernicana.

The ‘Pineta di Linguaglossa’, the Ragabo forest, stretches beyond the upper end of the deciduous oaks. It stands majestically past the ‘Donnavita’ Forest Service barracks, at about 1300 m.a.s.l. Everything changes once inside of it and you find yourself surrounded by a shady forest: 1000 hectares of Laricio Pine (Pinus nigra subsp. calabrica), the only forest of this kind in Sicily. Just stop, get off the car, get out of the road and listen to the wind: it will tell a tale about pride and freedom, which has the Linguaglossa inhabitants as main characters.

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