The Cross of Pratomagno between Valdarno and Casentino

di Sandro Fabrizi

The massif of Pratomagno has a great extension but in the collective imagination when we speak about  “going to Pratomagno” we immediately think of the Cross, which is its symbol par excellence and certainly the most scenic place.
Going to the Cross of Pratomagno is a popular destination for all hikers, both the more tried and tested and for those called Sunday hikers.
You can get there from several points of  Valdarno and Casentino, with more or less challenging routes, but the arrival at the peak is always exciting, whatever the place of departure is.

It is located at 1592 meters above sea level and even if it is not one of the top 5 highest Tuscan mountains it offers a 360 º truly unparalleled view, which repays all the efforts. Few mountains in Italy have such a wide and boundless view.

In the beautiful sunny days without haze, the view is truly unique. You can recognize the main towns of  Valdarno and Casentino, as well as Arezzo, the Chianti mountains, the Val d’Orcia, Monte Amiata, Trasimeno Lake, Abetone and much more. You can even see the Tyrrhenian Sea  with a bit of luck and with the right weather conditions, in a particular point of the ridge.
The sense of peace and vastness that you can taste when you arrive here is always a wonderful thing which relaxes the sight and mind of every hiker.

A Bit of History

The Cross of Pratomagno has a fairly recent history. It was erected in 1928 and since then it was restructured several times due to deterioration and to the atmospheric agents.
It is right in front of La Verna, as wanted by its creator, a Franciscan friar who came up with the idea of celebrating the  700 year anniversary since the death of the friar of Assisi.
In recent years, the focus on the symbol of Pratomagno has increased exponentially, especially after the last restoration in 2013 and with the contemporary advent of several social networks and in particular the Facebook page called “Pratomagno”, curated by true fans.

Beautiful in all the seasons

Usually the Cross of Pratomagno is a very popular summer destination, but in my opinion it is not the best time to appreciate all its beauty because with the heat the meadows turn yellow from too much sun and lose a bit of their charm.
If you are not afraid of the lower temperatures of winter, try to go on a sunny day; it will be really exciting  maybe with snowshoes after a heavy snowfall

In my opinion, however, the best time to do this excursion is when spring blooms, usually in May when the prairies of the ridge are in bloom and you can also see the gentian and wild orchids.
I have been there several times, at various times of the day and in different climatic situations, always living beautiful feelings, but the most beautiful excursions that I remember are two: one at sunset and the other at dawn.

The first was with a group of Cai del Valdarno Superiore who organized this excursion at the end of June; it was a sunset walk on the ridge which goes from Monte Lori to the Cross. Seeing the sunset here, on a beautiful early summer day with the sky completely clear, was a really nice feeling.
After sunset, we walked on the ridge in the direction of Monte Lori while the sky gave postcard images and the two valleys slowly lit up like a giant crib – it was an unparalleled experience.

The other excursion, I remember with pleasure, was the one I did to wait for dawn right next to the Cross; it was an even more beautiful emotion.
It was a mid-July morning, one of the hottest days of the year ever, so I decided to go wait for dawn at the Cross of Pratomagno. It was a nice way to escape the heat.
Seeing the sun slowly rising from up there like a glowing ball, was just fantastic.

I could add many other details, but the best thing is to go there and to see with your own eyes the magnificent landscape that surrounds it because no photo, no video and no captivating description will do justice to such a beauty.

If you want to explore these two excursions you can find them here:

https://www.lamiabellatoscana.it/2018/06/sul-crinale-del-pratomagno-al-tramonto.html

https://www.lamiabellatoscana.it/2015/07/aspettare-alba-alla-croce-del-Pratomagno.html