Santa Libera (560 m) - Cascina Poggio Giardino (470 m) - Case Teola (500 m) - Santa Libera Church (560 m)
Length: 3,5 km
The path sets off from the church of S. Libera. Ancient records (Giancarlo Scaglione, personal note) tell of a seventeenth-century country church, which was probably built in a remote place of worship, located near the road and close to a major farming community. The path unfolds on the ridge among broom, privet, hazel, viburnum, juniper and often twisted trees: oak, ash, Scots pine. In a few hundred meters, fragments of the typical xeric (i.e. dry) environment of the Langhe alternate with wooded strips, scrubs and clearings before our eyes. These plant formations and the procession of animals accompanying them are of particular interest from a naturalistic standpoint, because very particular species live here. They have adapted to sunny, dry climates like those found on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, some plant and animal species can be found commonly further down in the south, on the slopes of the Apennines overlooking the sea. Apart from its scientific – naturalistic importance, this place is also beautiful from an aesthetic point of view. Small clearings from which blocks of marl covered with multicoloured lichens often crop up are the ideal habitat for many butterfly species, which find extensive and varied blooms here from which they draw nectar as well as nutritious plants for their caterpillars. A separate chapter should be devoted to wild orchids that find the suitable conditions for their development just like butterflies and many other species. There are a dozen species of orchids in the Luja Forest and surrounding areas, which are an indication of the good quality of the natural environment. Wild orchids are all under protection and collecting or damaging them is strictly forbidden. It is worth telling here why they should be left in peace: these plants have very numerous but very small seeds. These seeds must enter into symbiosis with a fungus so that they can germinate. So if you cut even a single shoot, you will prevent the maturation of hundreds of thousands of seeds that have a very low probability of finding the right fungus and the appropriate conditions for their development. Luja Forest is rich in biodiversity and needs protection. That’s why, WWF and some locals have applied for specific environmental protection through the establishment of a natural reserve. As you reach a crossroad, go straight on the first slightly uphill path through wooded strips, hedgerows, meadows and small vineyards, which form a mosaic that does nothing but enrich the variety of species. Then you arrive at a second crossroad. Here, keep walking in the direction of C.na Poggio Giardino. You will intercept “River and Rocks” path. If you take the path heading west-northwest, you will continue on the loop of Luja Forest. This choice will lead you to cross vineyards and residual croplands first that will soon give way to hillside and slope forest, which is cooler and damper than the previous one, featuring ferns and characterized by chestnut, hazel, poplar, plum and cherry trees. In this stretch of the forest, you might run into traces and remains of some animals’ meals, such as foxes, wild boars, badgers, squirrels, hazel dormice, dormice, voles, field mouse and you can listen to the songs and verses of many birds, like titmouse, finch and woodpecker. The last stretch is uphill and it will pass close to entirely stone-built Case Teola, and then the path will take you back to the first crossroad you had encountered. It will not take you long to get back to the church of S.Libera from here.
I tracciati GPS dei percorsi provengono da fonti varie e sono costituiti da più sezioni composte in un unico tracciato. Alcuni di essi possono avere un senso direzionale diverso da quello descritto sulla guida. Per una corretta percorrenza si raccomanda sempre la lettura del testo descrittivo e della mappa. Le informazioni contenute su tutti i media non impegnano la responsabilità di autori ed editori.