Trail of the Mounts Ceva, Spinefrasse and Croce
The range consisting of the mounts Ceva-Spinefrasse is one of the most remarkable in the Euganean Hills. Set between the towns of Battaglia Terme and Montegrotto Terme, it appears from the eastern plain as a semicircular amphitheater of hills, whose summits do not exceed 255 meters in height. The significance of the group is related to its particular geological structure, which together with the area microclimate allowed the rise of a natural oasis having extraordinary botanical value.
The group of Ceva is recognized as a SPA (Special Protection Area) and belongs to the SIC (Sites of Community Importance) since it contains a real treasure trove of biodiversity, including more than 1,200 species of plants, among which some rare varieties, such as Cheilanthes marantae and Scrophularia vernalis, and some really very rare, like Anogramma leptophylla and Asplenium septentrionale. Emblems of the extraordinary uniqueness of this natural area is the unusual coexistence of the prickly pear nano (Opuntia compressa) known to be a “lover of heat”, with the cobweb Houseleek (Sempervivum arachnoideum), which is instead a glacial relict.
The recommended itinerary to explore the group of Ceva starts from the equipped area of Montenuovo street, from which we walk in the direction of the abandoned quarry of Mount Croce. The first section of the route is flat and corresponds to the stretch known as the "horseshoe" because of its curved morphology. The zone is well preserved, even though it is no longer inhabited by peasant families who until a few years ago took care of the numerous vineyards and cultivated fields that appear now in a state of partial abandonment. In correspondence with one of the ancient farmhouses on the left we can see the detour that climbs the steep rocky ridge, heading to the summit of Mount Ceva. The path is quite challenging, but offers one of the most gorgeous scenery in the entire Euganean territory. Until mid-slope, the vegetation is predominantly formed by arbutus (strawberry trees), cistus and heather tree. Approaching the top, the landscape becomes more harsh: the path runs along lines of latitic rocks, covered by lush clumps of Opuntia compressa, Agave and Opuntia stricta. In order to ascend the last few meters before the peak, we shall climb two short stretches among the rocks, with the aid of a rope specially installed to facilitate the ascent. Once arrived near the metal cross standing on the rocky top of Mount Ceva, the eye is inevitably ravished by a stunning panorama, which spans 360 degrees on the ridges of the Euganean Hills, on the thermal spa cities Abano and Montegrotto and the surrounding plain. On a clear day, even the shimmer of the Venice lagoon can be visible.
A resting stop allows to explore the latitic rocks jutting out beneath the cross, to the south. A small chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary is here encased. Approaching a compass to the crevice, a singular phenomenon occurs: the inversion of the magnetic field, consisting in a considerable deviation of the compass needle until complete reversal of the signal north-south. This occurrence is determined by ferromagnetic minerals (magnetite) within the magmatic breaches: they still have residual magnetic field acquired during the constitution of the minerals themselves and rotated in comparison with the current Earth's magnetic field.
The trail takes down south, along the path that lines the entire ridge of the mounts Spinefrasse and Croce. We enter a dense thermophilic wood mainly consisting of shrubs of roverello, holly oak and flowering ash with a lush undergrowth of holly or butcher’s broom, rock rose, hawthorn and the rare Verbascum phoeniceum. The course of the path is a gentle ups and downs, accentuated in the saddle that connects the two mountains, Spinefrasse with Croce. The initial section of the “horseshoe” can be rejoined by taking one of the detours going down quickly on the left flank of the mount Croce. Alternatively, once reached the low top, we may descend the steep stretch that runs alongside the ruins of the monastery of S. Maria delle Croci to head directly to the rest area where we started.
Iniziativa finanziata dal Programma di sviluppo rurale per il Veneto 2014-2020
Organismo responsabile dell'informazione: GAL Patavino.
Autorità di gestione: Regione del Veneto
- Direzione AdG FEASR Parchi e Foreste -