The first of ninety turns on the route to Mount Scalambra is a sharp left hand from the Piglio road near the end of La Forma, the ‘commercial’ centre of Serrone that runs alongside the main road.
From this level, the top of the mountain seems close to heaven.
Now half an hour later we have climbed up through the U-turns of old Serrone, passed the remains of the Colonna Tower standing precariously a few hundred metres above the town and met the herd of cattle that uses this road as its own highway between the remaining patches of verdant herbage that this mountain still offers so early into the hot summer.
Sharp rocks and cow ‘patties’ bestrew the road that more closely follows the old shepherds’ trails winding back and forth – into the dark dells encased by tree tops and coming out again into the bright sun, with the wind whistling around the car each time we escape the protection of the forest.
Near the top, the road narrowed and the protection on the edges disappeared with the appearance of ‘snow poles’ to tell us how deep we are in winter.
And passing by some last homes on the road to heaven, we have reached the top, a small landing marked by the telecommunications towers, the paragliding launch area and the statue of Our Lady of Peace.
The temperature up here is about ten degrees fresher than in the valley below La Forma and, in between scanning the horizon for landmarks of the provinces of Lazio, the silver lined black clouds whirl up from behind the mountain and race overhead to disappear in the warmer air.
Before returning to the heat of summer, a short climb must be made to the memorial to read the simple reminder ‘AI CADUTI DI TUTTE LE GUERRE’ and whisper a short prayer.
Then it’s a race with the mountain-bikers back to civilisation.