A very long stage with medium elevation gain, pleasant and without difficulty. After passing the fascinating Bosco Mazzocca we enter a new region: we are in Puglia!
The stage, although smooth, is very long: the less trained hikers should better break it in Tufara (off the path, about 3 km from the Sentiero Italia) or in the center of San Marco la Catola. Recommended to leave early in the morning.
The signage is completely absent. The track is always clearly visible and intuitive, but the GPS track should be monitored.
In the first section, you cross a part of asphalt with no sidewalk, be careful.
No water points up to San Marco la Catola: bring a great supply given the lack of shade.
We leave Masseria Pasqualone and enter the very picturesque Bosco Mazzocca. We continue in ups and downs on a dirt road (except for a stretch of a few hundred meters on asphalt, better to be careful), overcoming Casa Maglieri. Once we are on the ridge, we follow it with a light and constant descent ( approx. 700 m drop), always on a cart track, passing the asphalted road that descends to the village of Tufara (clearly visible on our left, on the opposite side: those who are tired can go there and thus break the stage).
Once in the valley floor, we cross the Fortore stream on a small bridge and start to go up again (about 300 m height difference); the path, although wide, is sometimes steep and complicated by the passage of the crawlers which makes the track a little bumpy. At the end of the climb, the view opens to 360 °: a landscape that recalls the Spanish mesetas, we admire to the north the Lago di Occhito.
We go downhill (about 300 m drop), always on a carriage road, until we first cross a dry river, then the state road. Right after, we find an asphalted road that goes up (400 m height difference) towards San Marco laCatola; some sections are very steep. Once in the village (the most tired ones can stop there), we continue for a few kilometers on an asphalted road, on a slight slope. At a large crossroads, we keep to the right and (still on the road) we cross a wood; shortly after a bend, we find a gate on the right and take the cart road that goes down to Masseria Avellaneta.
According to a legend, San Marco la Catola was founded by the survivors of the VI crusade freed by Frederick II in the Holy Land in 1228, when the emperor conquered Jerusalem. The freed prisoners followed Frederick II to Puglia, where they founded the city of San Marco.
An ancient tradition of the town is the Giostra della Jaletta, which takes place during the feast of San Liberato Martire (19 August). The knights of the seven districts of the town compete in a competition that consists of inserting the tip of a stick into the slot, placed under a tub of water (jaletta) hanging from a rope between two balconies, in the square in front of the Pignatelli palace.
The knight's ability lies in inserting the stick without getting wet and the winner is the one who manages to do it several times, earning a score that varies according to the horse's gait.
On a hill just outside the village, annexed to the Capuchin Convent, is the Santuario di Santa Maria di Giosafa. Built around the mid 1500s on a pre-existing abbey, it contains a late Byzantine wooden bas relief (probably brought by the Crusaders who founded the town) depicting the Madonna.
The Capuchin convent was commissioned by the Marquis Pignatelli and hosted Padre Pio on several occasions.
Overlooking San Marco is the Palazzo Ducale Pignatelli, sometimes erroneously called Castello Pignatelli, from the name of a feudal family of San Marco La Catola.
The palace was built on a fort founded by Frederick II in the 14th century, the same period of the two towers.
In the nearby town of Motta Montecorvino, there are the ruins of a tower called Torre del Diavolo; half destroyed, it seems like a huge chair.
Located in the middle of the hills of Daunia, it is a ruin of the ancient city of Montecorvino, destroyed by the troops of the Norman king Roger II in 1137.
The typical dish of the area is the handmade c 'catill (cavatelli).
They are different in length, depending on whether they are made with the movement of two or three fingers, and they are usually seasoned with cotechino or lamb and chicory sauce.
Masseria Avellaneta, 5 km after the center of San Marco la Catola, along the Sentiero Italia. Tel +39 347 274 9067
In San Marco la Catola there are several accommodation facilities.
Starting point reachable by car.
Starting point is reachable by bus, starting from the town of Riccia.
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.