A stage of good length and very demanding due to the large differences in altitude, the (often complicated) ground conditions and the technical sections. The counterbalance is the extreme panoramic character of the route and, as icing on the cake, the summit of Monte Finestra (1,145 m) with a view of the Costiera Amalfitana.
A stage you should avoid in the height of summer.
The stage is clearly technically and physically difficult and is therefore only suitable for experienced and well-trained hikers - if you don’t suffer from vertigo!
Once you have passed the junction for the Avvocata Sanctuary, the path becomes difficult (and remains so for many kilometres until you reach Valico della Tramontana): there are very steep and slippery sections, exposed crossings and generally places where you need your hands; many sections are overgrown with vegetation. Particularly noteworthy are the traverse on the eastern slope of Colle della Serra, the ledge below the northern peak of Monte Finestra and, immediately afterwards, the climb up the same.
We leave Dragonea and take the wide path that rises slowly towards Corpo di Cava, immersed in the woods; passing the Bonea stream, we easily reach the village (very impressive!) and, after passing a spring, we skirt the Abbazia della Santissima Trinità.
Shortly afterwards, we take the path that leads uphill (about 500 m height difference) towards the Avvocata sanctuary. The path runs in a shady holm oak wood; the climb is never too demanding, despite its crucial passages, and we also find a couple of fountains; in the second part, the gradient decreases and we walk halfway up the slope,enjoying magnificent views of the sea below on several occasions. So we reach a saddle from where the turnoff to the sanctuary of the Avvocata begins: it is a diversion of about 3 km between the outward and the return, in easy ups and downs, which is worth it (if you have time) for the panoramic view of the place; at the sanctuary there is also a kind of bivouac that is always open for pilgrims.
We return to the saddle and take the small path that cuts through the western slope of Monte Demanio: the path, with its constant ups and downs, is completely different from the one we have followed so far and we have to keep a steady pace; the path becomes narrow, slippery and several sections are overgrown by vegetation. We reach the top of a hill and from there, ignoring the path on the right that leads down to Corpo di Cava, we continue along the ridge towards Monte Finestra; in this section, too, there are difficulties and between the many ups and downs (often exposed to the sun) we gain height (about 350 m height difference). After crossing the eastern slope of Colle della Serra, we descend to Foce di Tramonti and from there we tackle the climb to the (first) summit, Monte Finestra (1,145 m), now completely uncovered. Without resting too much, we continue, losing height slightly towards Malopasso, from which we take a fairly wide but very exposed traverse; then follows a short but very steep climb to Vetta Nord: there we finally enjoy the view and take advantage of the shade offered by a small bivouac. Back on the move, we descend (about 150 m drop) on a dusty path, but without technical difficulties, until we pass under a small cave with a statue of the Madonna: there we find a drinking fountain, a real stroke of luck. We continue along a beautiful, very steep (but wide) ridge until we reach Valico della Tramontana (895 m): there the difficulties end and we reach a carriage road for the second part of the descent (200 m drop), again in the woods; then, near Le Chiancolelle pass, we reach an asphalt road and arrive at the Valico di Chiunzi, the end of a beautiful stage.
Since ancient times, Valico di Chiunzi has been an important gateway from the Agro Nocerino-Sarnese to the Amalfi Coast.
Despite its importance, a proper road connecting Maiori with Chiunzi was built only at the beginning of the 19th century and completed on the other side, towards Corbara, after the middle of the century. In the Middle Ages, the place was called Punzo, probably referring to its pointed shape, and was later renamed Chiunzi.
On 29th September 1943, the 319th American Battalion reached Valico di Chiunzi after forcing the withdrawal of the Germans guarding the area. The capture of the important pass enabled the Americans to continue their advance towards Naples and liberate Italy from Nazi occupation.
In Operation Avalanche, Allied troops landed in the Gulf of Salerno, from Maiori to Agropoli. Despite many losses from German bombing, the operation was successful and the Allies were able to lay the foundations for the liberation of the peninsula.
During the Greek-Gothic War in 552 AD, the Lattari Mountains were the scene of a battle between the army of the Eastern Roman Empire led by Narses and the Ostrogoths led by King Teia.
The army of the Ostrogoths, which was in trouble, retreated from the banks of the river Sarno to the Lattari Mountains. However, finding no food for its army and horses, it was forced to confront the Byzantines by attacking them from the mountains. The sudden attack caught the imperial army off guard and they tried every means to kill King Teia in order to force the Ostrogoths to surrender. Only at the end of the day, when an arrow managed to hit and kill the last king of the Goths, was the battle over.
The event is remembered as the “Battle of the Lattari Mountains” or the “Battle of Vesuvius”.
On the summit of Valico di Chiunzi, still stands the Orsini Tower, of Norman origin, used as a checkpoint for military purposes, but also as a customs house for passage. The tower, which is in an excellent state of preservation, housed a restaurant with a wonderful view of the Gulf of Naples.
Nearby Nocera Inferiore is the Sanctuary of Maria dei Miracoli, a Marian complex located halfway up Monte Albino.
The site, which housed the Madonna dei Pigni, was converted into a monastery of the Olivetan Order by the Nocerian leader Giambattista Castaldo. Over the centuries it was neglected and abandoned until it was restored in the 19th century. It has always been a destination for pilgrims, especially during Easter.
Since 1598, there has been a tradition for pilgrims to part from Nocera and Pagani on two different days: Monday and Tuesday of Easter Monday. This tradition was established to prevent the violent clashes that regularly took place between the citizens of the two towns during the pilgrimage.
One of the unmissable products of this rich area is the Corbarino tomato, also known as Sponzillo, which has a particularly sweet taste. It owes its name to the municipality of Corbara, on whose hills it has always been grown.
With its elongated shape, it has remained a local product, even if demand is increasing. It is a tradition to produce grapes for storage and winter consumption.
In the municipality of Tramonti, more precisely in the hamlet of Pucara, Concerto, a liqueur made from the herbs of the area, is excellent.
It comes from the old Royal Conservatory of S. Giuseppa and Teresa and is obtained by steeping more than fifteen spices and herbs in alcohol - the symphony of tastes and smells is a true concert. The liqueur is typically offered as a sign of hospitality and is the oldest rosolio on the Amalfi Coast, used by elderly housewives as a revitalising potion.
Bivouac on the north summit of Monte Finestra (no beds: mattress and sleeping bag required). Always open.
Al Valico Relax, in Valico di Chiunzi. Tel. +39089 876165
Starting point reachable by car.
Starting point reachable by bus, starting from the city of Salerno.
Here is 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.