With a mountain lake reddened by the blood of the devil, a narrow pass known as the gorge of hell and a cave reputed to have been the lair of an enchantress, the Monti Sibillini are not only the most beautiful section of the Apennines, but they teem with ancient legends too. Wolves, chamois and brown bear all have a home in the national park and even if you don’t come across one of these, you may be lucky enough to see an equally rare golden eagle instead.
The best way to experience the park is by walking, cycling or horseriding, and if you’re up for a challenge there’s Il Grande Anello dei Sibillini (The Great Sibylline Ring), 120km of signposted footpaths that take nine days to walk, or four to five days to cover by mountain bike. Maps and accommodation details, including mountain refuges, are listed on http://www.sibillini.net/. There are shorter trails too, through meadows filled with wild flowers, for which the most agreeable bases are the medieval hill-villages that crown the Sibillini foothills. Most villages are served by buses, but they’re generally few and far between and it’s definitely best to have your own transport.