Quite a short stage, with two long stretches on the road and a positive difference in height that should not be underestimated.
The long climb to Monte Tolagna is challenging because of the state of the path but the landscape from up there is worth the effort.
The signposting is scarce and the path, on the way up around Monte il Castello, is often swallowed up by tall vegetation, where you have to create your own trail. Better keep an eye on the GPS track.
Water points are absent up to Collattoni.
We take the provincial road (pay attention: it is quite busy) towards the north-east, up to the locality of Taverne. Then we take the small road on the right and, passing an underpass, we climb (150 m height difference) up to Dignano (885 m), always on an asphalted road. From the built-up area, we take the 302 path towards the western pass of Monte il Castello: the climb, although short, is quite decisive and the path becomes gradually less visible. Once we have reached the pass, we go up more gently through a narrow valley. The path is semi-abandoned and covered by plants, we need to make our way through tall grass and branches that hinder our progression. After passing an old concrete casemate, we start the second steep climb (350 m height difference).
After a first cross climb, we reach a carriage road. We catch our breath while enjoying the view, then we start the second stretch, ascending to the north side of Monte Tolagna, through large meadows in bloom. Having reached the pass east of the mountain, we take the opportunity to visit the nearby peak of Monte Tolagna (1,394 m, 100 m height difference).
The descent towards Collattoni (200 m drop), along the Canale Valley, is simple and never aggressive. We reach the beautiful village of Collattoni and continue on the path that takes us quickly to the valley floor below, which we travel eastwards until we reach the paved road. We follow it slightly downhill (without taking the detour on the right towards Pantaneto) for the last km up to the village of Pié del Sasso, the main hamlet of the municipality of Monte Cavallo, bearing the evident effects of the 2016 earthquake.
The scattered municipality of Monte Cavallo is one of the smallest in the province of Macerata. It is located in a level 1 seismic zone: the small settlements of medieval origin were severely hit by the 2016 earthquake.
Halfway between Monte Cavallo and Visso we find the beautiful Sanctuary of Macereto: a national monument, it is a remarkable example of Renaissance architecture, perfectly integrated into the surrounding natural environment.
The episode that seems to have decreed its construction is singular: in 1359 a convoy carrying a statue of the Madonna, from Loreto to Naples, had to stop here because the mules refused to proceed and there was no way to make them resume their march. The inhabitants who came to help, saw it as a sign of the divine and demanded the statue to be left there, in order to build a church, that was incorporated into the current sanctuary in the 16th century.
The complex was miraculously undamaged during the earthquake.
The pecorino cheese and the lamb mutton alla cacciatora are excellent in this area.
It is possible to taste them both at the Castrato and Pecorino Cheese Festival, which takes place every year in Monte Cavallo at the end of July.
There are no structures either in Collattoni (almost uninhabited) nor in Monte Cavallo.
However, in Monte Cavallo it is possible to ask the municipality to sleep in one of the containers arranged after the earthquake. Tel. +39 0737 519624 (Restaurant Nido dell'Aquila)
Starting point reachable by car.
Departure point reachable by bus, leaving from the city of Perugia with a change in Foligno.
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.