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Walking and Hiking in Umbria: The Marchetto Canyon

This article was reproduced by permission of its author, Giuseppe Bambini, and was originally published in the now defunct quarterly magazine AssisiMia, edited by Francesco Mancinelli.

We would like to propose an easy walking tour which reveals an area of great geological and scenic interest:  Marchetto Canyon.  Comfortable clothing and footwear appropriate for an excursion in the countryside is advised.

By car:  from Piazza Matteotti leave the city through Porta Perlice and take route SS444 in the direction of Gualdo Tadino – below to the left is the deep gorge of the stream Tescio; after about 6 kilometers, directly in front of the little private church of Pian della Pieve, leave route SS444 and turn right onto a dirt road which, after passing over a little bridge, brings you under the arcade of the large Ponte Francescano where you can park your car (6,2 km from Piazza Matteotti).

Walking itinerary:  from the rest stop beyond the arcade of the large Franciscan bridge and before reaching the little bridge, turn left onto a well-marked path (there is a no thoroughfare sign), which goes up along the right slope (on the map) of Marchetto Canyon.

The walls of the Marchetto Canyon

After a brief level grassy stretch, the path becomes discontinuous and begins to rise, then levels out again (here you can glimpse the deeply-embedded ravine below with its deep chasms) until it reaches the destinctive Marchetto bridge (40 minutes from the start) which projects over the wild chasm with an exceptional view of the vertical rock-face and the sinuous progress of the course of water below (be careful!).  The bridge, certainly medieval, in ancient times was known as the Bridge of the Wolves and represents an important arterial path between the city and the vast countryside to the East.

The Marchetto Bridge

Leaving the bridge to your right, proceed following the red and white trail signs 51 to Ponte Cavaliero (18th century), near the confluence of Cavaliero Canyon into Marchetto Canyon.

The Marchetto Canyon from above

Once again leaving the bridge on your right, proceed slightly uphill skirting the gorge until you reach a fork in the path.  Ignore the sign for trail 51 and take the little level grassy road to the right which soon leads to a waterfall Fersena, which can be heard for some distance; over the waterfall is the Norcia-Assisi-Perugia aqueduct by which you can reach the head of the waterfall (once again, be careful!).

Returning to the fork, take up the marked path again.  With a couple of upward turns in the path you come out of the woods; skirt the cultivated field until you reach Casa Poderaccio (40 minutes from Marchetto Bridge).  Beyond the house, leave trail 51 and take a dirt road to the left that, in slight but constant descent (beautiful panoramic view of the wooded northern slope of Mount Subasio and the surrounding hills) will bring you pleasantly back to the starting point (40 minutes from Casa Poderaccio).

At the end of the excursion, returning toward Assisi on route SS444, we suggest a brief stop at Restaurant da Giovannino at Ponte Grande where, in homey and hospitable surroundings, you can taste the characteristic local dishes cooked in the authentic traditional manner.

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