Itinerary "The mounts Rusta and Gemola" by Aldo Pettenella
This path winds through the heart of the Euganean Hills group, on two mountains standing in the southern sector. The hike allows to go through thick woods, discovering the diversity of vegetation according to the exposure and the climate of the opposite hillsides. The shape of mount Rusta is perfectly conical and particularly illustrative of geological origin of the Euganean Hills. While it is one of the few mounts almost completely in the wild, the nearby Mount Gemola has instead less steep slopes, marked by wide cultivated fields, mainly vineyards. Its gently flat summit houses an ancient building of remarkable significance, Villa Beatrice d'Este, which enriches the route thanks to its interesting historical notes.
The trail starts on the left side of the provincial road that connects the small hamlet of Faedo with the center of Fontanafredda (in the municipality of Cinto Euganeo), at the intersection with via Pestrini. We shall then go up about half a kilometer on a comfortable trachyte stone-paved ‘muletrack’, among tall oaks and chestnut trees. After encountering a disused electricity substation, we leave the lane to turn left onto a narrower path that leads to the ancient quarries now abandoned. Taking the little road on the left, we ascend to the square above the cave, to enjoy a wonderful view of the hamlet of Fontanafredda and surrounding mountains. After leaving the square, the climb continues along a convenient route that, following 12 hairpin bends, leads to the summit of the mountain. The peak of the mount Rusta can be reached through a further short stretch, but the deviation is only recommended in the winter season when the lack of leaves allows glimpses of panoramic views among the thick vegetation. The clearing on the top includes a small religious monument dedicated to the fallen in Russia and nearby, we can catch a glimpse of a low row of rubble that hems the summit of the hill: this is all that remains of the medieval castle of Mount Rusta.
We take the trail up to the twelfth hairpin bend and continue downhill for three more turns. Once we are at the fourth bend, instead of travelling it, we go straight along the path that cuts obliquely the south-western slope. In this part of the route we can notice a sudden change of the wood, that from its prevalence of oak and chestnut switches to a more Mediterranean vegetation, featuring shrubs of flowering ash, heather and strawberry tree. The path takes a zig-zag and after five hairpin bends we shall enter the paved road that goes up the mount Gemola. In the saddle connecting the two mountains there is a crossroads: taking the gravel road on the right we’ll reach the summit of the hill which houses one of the most striking Venetian villas in the Euganean Hills. The steep trachyte paved road climbs towards the monumental gateway of the house beyond which we get to the spectacular square in front of Villa Beatrice d'Este. A well-deserved break allows to enjoy the lovely panorama that on a clear day stretches to the PreAlps.
Heading down to the portal, we take the narrow path on the left that goes into the bush. Once we reach a fork, we may choose whether to proceed in the fastest path to the right or take the detour to the left: in both cases, the hike quickly flows into the trail that leads to the small hamlet of Cornoleda. Beyond the church, we descend towards Cinto Euganeo and at the first bend we turn on the back of a big old house along the coast of the mount. The lane leads to cross the Calto Mogetto and, after an ascent among mulberry trees and elders up to a dwelling, we continue until crossing the paved road that goes up skirting the fifteenth-century church of Santa Lucia. We pass it to take the path on the left that continues quite flat among the vineyards, and rejoins after a short stretch with the beginning of the route, returning to departure point.