A medium-length stage, but challenging in terms of height, with an important climb to the northern shoulder of Monte Catria.
Of absolute landscape and cultural value, it offers boundless landscapes and the mystical atmosphere of the Monastery of Fonte Avellana: a pearl of the Marche Apennines.
The climb from Chiaserna to Bocca della Valle has some rather steep sections: you need to be in good shape.
In the descent towards Fonte Avellana, you face a long complicated stretch: the bottom is very slippery due to the combination of mud and leaves and the track is sometimes very narrow and exposed. You walk next to a semi-underground water pipe and you need to be careful not to trip over it.
The signs are not always present, it is good to keep an eye on the GPS.
We take a path that goes up (100 m height difference). Afterward, on the white road with gentle ups and downs, we continue (the signs are scarce) to the hamlet of Fossato, from where we soon reach Chiaserna on a paved road.
We then start the long climb (900 m height difference) towards the major pass between Monte Acuto and Monte Catria. Immediately, the path climbs sharply into the woods and cuts the hairpin bends of the big dirt road, with several quite steep parts. Arriving in Bocca della Valle (1,159 m), a long cross path begins with slight ups and downs, helping us cut the southeast side of Monte Acuto. Alternating scenic stretches with lush beech forests, we arrive at the Fonte del faggio bivouac (1,286 m). Shortly after we meet the Fonte del Faggio, where we stock up on water in preparation for the last part of the climb.
We gain again altitude towards the pass (the track is not very clear) until we reach the monument of the Madonna degli Scout and the view opens onto the Adriatic side: from the Conero to San Marino, from the Furlo Gorges to Fano ...the imposing mass of Monte Catria looms above us, surmounted by a gigantic steel cross. We proceed and climb a little more, cutting the hairpin bends of the dirt road. Those who have enough energy can reach (200 m height difference) the summit of Monte Catria (1,701 m) taking advantage of the wide path that starts from the nearby Rifugio della Vernosa.
We continue on the comfortable white leveled road, taking us to the northern side of the Catria. We then leave the cart track and turn left: the descent begins (750 m drop). Descending swiftly through the meadows, we arrive just below a panoramic point: we admire Monte della Strega (1,278 m) to the south-east and, beyond, Monte San Vicino (1,480 m). Below us, the complex of the Monastery of Fonte Avellana, immersed in the colorful woods. We continue on the cross path and we arrive at the foot of the severe Rocca Baiarda. The progression is not insignificant, some sections are a bit collapsed and the track, often very narrow, is slightly exposed. We return to the woods and walk down the ridge towards the wide pass of La Forchetta (781 m), where a path leads us quickly to the Monastery of Fonte Avellana.
The Monastery of Fonte Avellana dates back to the end of the 10th century and its history (and of the monks who built the first cells) was influenced by San Romualdo, founder of the Camaldoli Hermitage, who lived in those places. The monastery soon became a major religious and social point of reference and, according to tradition, 76 blessed and saints lived within its walls. Dante mentions it as well, dedicating two tercets to it in the XXI Canto del Paradiso and it seems like he was a guest there as well.
Despite the downfall of the monastic life over the centuries and the Napoleonic suppression (when many of its possessions and books were confiscated and nationalized), the monastery has managed to maintain the ancient beauty of the buildings and today is back to being a place of continuous pilgrimage.
Inside the monastery, there is the scriptorium San Pier Damiani, one of the few in Europe that has remained intact over the centuries.
Here the amanuensis monks transcribed the codes and it was built according to the rules of the golden ratio, the "divine proportion": this structure gives the scriptorium a combination of architectural harmony, brightness, and excellent acoustics.
Like many monasteries, Fonte Avellana also boasts an important library, commissioned by the abbot in 1773.
However, its shelves remained empty twice, due to the Napoleonic suppression of 1811 and that of the Kingdom of Italy in 1866. In the end, however, the books were returned and today there are about 20,000, the oldest volume is from 1470 (must be taken into consideration that the invention of printing dates back to 1455).
As soon as you arrive, it is worth visiting the bar opposite the entrance to the monastery: it sells several craft beers at km 0.
The cuisine of the Fonte Avellana refectory is excellent. The polenta alla carbonara is highly recommended. Very creamy (it is cooked for a long time, according to the Marche tradition), and served with a tasty sauce of sausage, bacon, and pecorino.
The chocolate liqueur produced by the monks themselves, the optimus, is excellent for digesting.
Bivacco Fonte del faggio, at the Fonte del Faggio; 4 beds, fireplace and ... lots of books! Always Open
Monastero Fonte Avellana, on the north-east slopes of Monte Catria. Tel. +39 0721.730.261
Starting point reachable by car.
Starting point reachable by bus, starting from the town of Fano with a change in Calmazzo and Cagli.
Here the LINK to check the timetables.
Starting point NOT reachable by train.
Va' Sentiero is a grassroot project, thanks to the spontaneous contribution oft housands of people.
Even the most complicated dream, a 7,000km uphill dream,
can be achieved... together.