Rock Cake (or Panettone?)

The Procinto, the Apuan Alps’ “Panettone” (Italian Christmas fruit cake) remains a wonderful feature of one’s walks in the southern part of that extraordinary mountain range, especially at this time of year when temperatures cool down a bit.

The Procinto (meaning “on the verge”) is 1177 metres high and is part of the Regional Park of the Apuan Alps, recognized as an area of outstanding environmental interest by the EC. It’s very close to Monte Nona and is between Monte Matanna and the “Regina Delle Apuane”, the Pania Della Croce.

As you can see from my pictures il Procinto consists of limestone and dolomite and has the singular form of a cake, with perfectly vertical walls and with a slightly convex top.

150 meters from its base is a delightful path which takes you all around it on a ledge called “Procinto’s belt”.  Access routes to the summit, where there a wooded area called “il giardino Del Procinto”, are only for experienced mountaineers and I’ve never attempted it, like this hardy group.

There is, however a via ferrata to the south which could be done with some care by those less experienced. The Procinto has its children or “bimbi” too. There are three peaks respectively called Bimbo Fasciato (the bimbo in swaddling clothes) the Little Procinto and the Bimba.

Towards the south is Mount Nona, 1,300 meters high above sea level. Its north wall, facing the Procinto, is made of dolomite limestone and overhangs in some points over 17 metres!

The Monte Procinto is easily accessed from the meadows on the south side of Mount Nona, from the Hotel Alto Matanna (see via a trail that ascends to the ridge of the Callare Matanna, then drops down to the base of the vertical wall of the Mount Nona, crossing the base of this wall and finally reaching the Procinto belt, from where a wooden bridge leads to the via ferrata. DSCN7778 You can also reach the Procinto from Camaiore. The path goes to the Forte dei Marmi CAI refuge and then continues up to join the other path.

From the top of Procinto there is a magnificent 360-degrees view, taking in the Pania Della Croce, the Pania Secca, Monte Forato, the Versilia coast and Mounts Nona and Matanna.

The Procinto was for long an insurmountable challenge for mountain climbers until the nineteenth century when it was first climbed (in 1848 by unnamed wood-cutters). Subsequently, a wooden ladder was built which experienced mountaineers could climb upon payment to the “Guardiano Del Procinto” who also looked after that wooden bridge.

In 1883 the engineer Aristide Florence Bruni, a member of the Florence CAI (president the previously mentioned Sir Budden) built the first via ferrata or protected mountain iron hand-cable route.


The epic poet Ludovico Ariosto, of Orlando Furioso fame, came here as governor of the territory for the Este family in 1522 and dedicated the following lines to the Procinto. (Exercise for you – translate into English).

Lo scoglio, ove il sospetto fa soggiorno,

Alto dal mare da seicento braccia,

Di ruinose balze cinto intorno,

E da ogni parte il cader minaccia

Il piu’ stretto sentier, che guida al Forno,

La’ dove il Garfagnin il ferro caccia

o la via Flamminia o l’Appia nomar voglio

verso quel che dal mar va in cima al scoglio.


(Titian’s portrait of Ariosto in the National Gallery, London)

There is more information about this poem in my post at

Anyway, whether you’re a poeticising or a practical sort, the Monte Procinto will never disappoint those in search of the sublimest natural beauty and the most satisfying walks.

PS These pictures have been taken over a period of several years (though always in October) ever since I discovered this lovely mountain back in 2005.


One thought on “Rock Cake (or Panettone?)

  1. Pingback: Of Plateaux and Black Leaps | From London to Longoio (and Lucca and Beyond) Part Two

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s