Spello to Collepino along a Roman aqueduct

We had no business taking this hike, but I am proud to say we survived.

An amazingly beautiful and peaceful walk through olive groves and along a path defined by an ancient Roman aqueduct, I had read about this on Rebecca Winke’s blog. When she wrote that “the last half-kilometer push to Collepino takes the wind out of you,” I had no idea of the reality.

Stunning countryside, away from the crowds.

It has been a long time since we did over 1000 feet of elevation gain, especially in so short a distance.

We started the day with a scenic bus trip from Assisi (where we were staying at Rebecca’s beautiful town apartments) to Spello where we met up with friends Justice and Bill Tower. They have an adorable renovated house in Spello where they spend close to half of the year. The trip to Collepino is one they make a piedi quite often. No wonder they are in such excellent shape!

We walked up from the bus stop at the foot of the town — which is quite a good uphill walk itself — and immediately headed to the top of the town and Acquedotto Romano trail. It has only been possible to do this hike for a few years. Previously the aqueduct was buried and debris and rock covered what is now a fine trail. Seriously, it is an easy-hiker hike until you get to the last bit.

A view of Spello and the mountains beyond from the trail. Spello is at 280 meters above sea level. We are above Spello but not nearly to Collepino.

Walking through olive groves along an ancient aqueduct on a fine fall day truly was delightful. The grade is mostly flat for at least 4 km, but we were glad we had brought our hiking sticks for the last push to the summit town of Collepino. The combination of exposure to warm fall sun, a steep grade, loose rocks, and living at sea level with rare opportunity to climb more than a few hundred feet, made this challenging for us.

Notice the wall created by the old aqueduct. Makes for a level path…until the end!

And we are rather slow walkers anyway. I am afraid we held up our more stalwart companions.

On an easy-hiker scale of 1-to-3, this was a 4+. (In our book, Walking in Italy’s Val Gardena, we rank hikes on a scale of 1 to 3.) We were verbally patting each other on the back for making it.

Justice & Bill ahead of us just before the path gets really steep. Collepino is at 600 meters.

At the top there is a cute-as-a-button hilltop village (Collepino) and a charming piazza with a bar run by the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. Flavio and Isa welcomed the four of us (Justice and Bill being long-time friends) and served up cappuccini to help us recover. A nice rest sitting in the shade, chatting and enjoying the peace of this slice of rural Umbria was just what we needed to propel us downhill — on a paved road — to lunch! Along the way, we harvested shoots of late-season (out-of-season?) wild asparagus.

The total hike was a bit over 11 kilometers, but this day we walked almost 18 km with all of the other walking we did. (That’s about 11 miles for our non-metric friends.)

Justice and Bill fed us lunch in their Spello hideaway, featuring a frittata made with some of that wild asparagus. Amazing!

Spello is a charming little town and I wish we had planned more time there. We stayed a few nights several years ago on a winter trip and were quite taken with it. There are great restaurants and it is an excellent place to practice your Italian.

It is also a great place to buy olive oil and we have some Spello d’Oro (Spello gold) on its way to Lincoln City.

We had a delightful visit in Umbria. Over at GoodDayRome.com there’s more about this stage of our two-month Grand Tour.

Here are a few more snapshots from our hike. Please click on them for a better view and caption.


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Yaquina Head

Outstanding is a word to be used carefully. Certainly the Federal Government does not bandy this word about. Yet the BLM has named this area the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, one of several in the U.S. and one of three with a lighthouse. (By the way, it is pronounced yuh-KWINN-uh, more-or-less.)

The iconic lighthouse and protected area. Thank you, BLM.

While a lighthouse has been here since the late 19th century, it was also a basalt quarry until 1983. But the scars, while still visible, are diminished by the natural beauty, the wildlife, and the iconic lighthouse.

Outstanding it is, in easy-hiker terms. Mostly paved and level, there is an easy walk from the Interpretive Center to the lighthouse.  It is safe for prams or even wheelchairs. The only impediment might be the wind that whips the headland. On a sunny day, it is easy to ignore the breeze.

The historic lighthouse. Tours available,

For those desiring more exercise, there is a short hike to the top of Salal Hill, a climb of 110 steps to the top of the lighthouse, or you can take the stairs down to Cobble Beach for some tide pool exploration. The footing here is tricky, though, as the beach is made up of polished “cobbles:” basalt rocks that over the years have been smoothed and rounded by the surf. We’ve never seen any beach like this. Well worth exploring.

Cobble beach, aptly named. Tough footing.

Low tide offers magnificent tide pool exploration.

Bird life abounds: Common murres, brown pelicans, tufted puffins, guillemots, gulls, and cormorants. Whales can be spotted when the sea is calm enough as California Gray Whales linger off the Central Oregon Coast in July and August.

Off-shore islands shelter sea birds.

I am looking forward to coming back on a nice winter day.

To complete the day, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Hatfield Marine Science Center, and the harbor at Newport are close by.

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