The “mirage” slope in Montagnaga
(not properly in the Cembra Valley)

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At the gates of the hamlet Montagnaga (that strictly speaking isn't in the Cembra Valley, but in the near Piné Plateau), there is an odd place that I call “mirage” slope.

At the first glance it deals with an ordinary little asphalted road: starting from the town the path appears to be slightly downhill, and by the end there's a stop signal (see picture 1).
Picture 1
Picture 1: the little road of Montagnaga

The road has a weird peculiarity: if you stop with your car at the stop signal and you put in neutral, unexpectedly the auto starts to retreat (so to go “uphill”) and, because of the acquired momentum, it goes beyond the signpost of the town, quite a few feet away! Really strange, and no mistake: I enjoyed to repeat the test several times myself.

The “popular” explanations ascribe the marvel to many various causes:
  • Magnetic anomalies
  • Gravitational anomalies (maybe caused by the presence of magnetic monopoles of big mass)
  • Not better specified extraterrestrial interferences
  • Influence from the near Marian sanctuary of Montagnaga…

  • The “retrograde” motion happens even if instead of the car you use a ball or if you pour some water on the road (and this should refute the hypothesis of magnetic anomalies.)
    If, on the other hand, the cause were a gravitational anomaly, it would have an effect also on our inner ear sensors (the organs that help us to distinguish between up and down): so our senses would probably let the slope appear to us as a descent from the stop signal to the town signpost, and then there wouldn't be anything strange in the car behaviour.

    I believe the singular phenomenon is instead due to a “mistake of the senses”: referring to picture 2, the road in points "1" and "2" is steep and so, in contrast, point "4" seems downhill from the signpost to the stop (and the descent doesn't appear to be mild); on the other hand, point "5" is evidently downhill, and this strengthens the impression that also the stop zone is so.
    Looking at the road from point "3", particularly, I'd have bet any sum that it was a fact; but if you put in neutral while you are on the inscription "STOP", the car goes backwards and really seems to climb the road!

    Picture 2
    Picture 2: schematic map of the zone
    Picture 3
    Picture 3: photo taken from point "3" (see picture 2)

    Actually, going from the signpost to the stop, I think that the route starts as a descent and, a little bit before halfway, it becomes a very easy ascent: this is enough to move the car backward, but it isn't evident at sight.

    As a matter of fact, looking at picture 4 it's not patent if in that point the slope is up or downhill (but in person it's really clear the impression to be in a descent).
    Picture 4
    Picture 4: photo taken from point "4" (see picture 2)

    Picture 5

    In order to arrive to the “mirage” slope in Montagnaga, from Baselga di Piné you have to go toward Vigo, and than to follow the road until the point indicated in picture 5 by a red arrow (see left).

    NB: the chart in picture 5 is taken from the 1:25,000 map of the Baselga di Piné zone, from the Italian Military Geographical Institute (sheet #21, quarter II, orientation N.W.)

    In the CICAP site, an excellent article (in Italian) is dedicated to the deceptive slopes phenomenon (in the page, the town is wrongly called Montagnana.)

    In 2003 Luigi Garlaschelli and others wrote an experimental thesis about the explanation of the "antigravity hills" as visual illusions; the text can be found at this address.

    About the Montagnaga hill again, a whole chapter of a book by Massimo Polidoro and Luigi Garlaschelli (in Italian) reports the measurements they've done there:
               Massimo Polidoro & Luigi Garlaschelli
               Investigatori dell'occulto

               2001 - Ed. Avverbi S.r.l.
               ISBN: 88-87328-20-X
               (pages 227 and following).

    A pretty thorough series of pictures of the little road can be found at this address, while several little movies can be seen on YouTube.
    Picture 5: the location of the “mirage” slope

    Beyond the attempts to explain why the slope behaves in such an unusual way, anyway the place it's a lot of fun: the children, but also the adults, always amuse themselves when they experience the “contrary motion”.
    I wish that the upkeep of the road, in the future, won't alter the fortuitous circumstances that cause this kind of little “miracle”  :-)

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    © 2008, 2009 Fabio Vassallo