Bismantova Rock: from Dante’s Purgatory to the Appenninica Paradise

Star of the final “Purgatory” stage of the 2021 Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2021, the Bismantova Rock inspired the Purgatory of Dante, whose National Day is celebrated on March 25th 

The Outdoor Lab

During the last stage of Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2021, on Saturday, September 18th, the bikers will face the Bismantova Rock before reaching the “Paradise” of sporting glory, putting on the cherished and hard-earned finisher’s medal. 

A symbol of Appenninica, the Bismantova Rock has also become an icon thanks to the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, the Florentine poet whose 700th anniversary of death will be celebrated in 2021. Through the Italian Ministry of Culture’s initiative, on Thursday, March 25th, 2021, the whole Country will celebrate the DanteDì, the National Day dedicated to Dante, recognized as the father of the Italian language. After his exile from Florence, the “Sommo Poeta” crossed the paths and trails of the Emilia-Romagna Apennines several times on his pilgrimage, seeking inspiration and inner peace. According to the tradition, the Bismantova Rock, with its imposing figure, inspired him to imagine his Purgatory.

The historical data confirm the legend, since Dante visited the area surrounding Castelnovo ne’ Monti in 1306, during his journey from Lunigiana to Padua. In addition to this historical evidence, Dante mentioned the Bismantova Rock in Canto IV of the Purgatory:

«Vassi in Sanleo e discendesi in Noli,

montasi su Bismantova e ‘n Cacume

con esso i piè; ma qui convien ch’om voli;

dico con l’ale snelle e con le piume

del gran disio, di retro a quel condotto

che speranza mi dava e facea lume»

(Dante, Purgatorio, canto IV, vv. 25-30)

Dante’s presence in Emilia-Romagna is also testified by the Sommo Poeta’s grave in Ravenna, where he took refuge in his elderly years. With a trail network of around 370-380 km, also accessible by mountain bike, the Cammino di Dante (Dante’s path) connects Ravenna to Florence while immersing in the Apennines beauty in a cultural, historical and natural journey full of emotions. The same as the Appenninica route, a perfect synthesis of Dante’s journey through the Apennines’ obscure woods, the challenging climbs of its peaks and the uncontaminated paradises of high-altitude landscapes. 

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