We are in the heart of the Massiccio del Matese.
This is a stage with considerable differences in altitude, both positive and negative, mainly in the shade of beautiful beech trees. The summit of Monte Sant'Angiolillo and the subsequent ridge offers breathtaking scenery that, on a clear day, reaches as far as the Gulf of Naples, including Vesuvius and Capri.
The route runs almost entirely in the shade and, despite the steepness of the ascent and descent, presents no major problems until kilometre 17, when the CAI signs disappear and the path is covered in brambles and tall grass. At this junction (at the height of the fountain and of the "percorso vita"), it is advisable to take the path on the left to stay at a higher altitude on the slope and then retake the SI.
We leave Piedimonte Matese in the direction of Sepicciano, following the asphalted road; once in Sepicciano, continue to San Potito Sannico and in the village, following the signs, we turn left to begin the long climb (about 1,000 m height difference), alternating asphalt and track for about 1 km. Then the path begins and after a few metres we enter a beech wood. Then the forest becomes thinner and after a stretch of ridge we reach the summit of Monte Sant'Angiolillo (1,290 m), from where we can enjoy a breathtaking view of the entire Gulf of Naples, including Mount Vesuvius and Capri. The major fatigue is over.
After a short descent (about 100 m drop), we walk along the ridge in an easterly direction and again enter a spectacular beech forest, less dense than the previous one, but all the more fascinating for that, with some centuries-old specimens. We come to a carriage road, keep to the right and reach an oasis where a small lake offers refreshment to the cows and horses in the wilderness (there may also be shepherd dogs). We go around the lake (which remains on our left) and continue on a gentle descent in a southerly direction, reaching the beautiful plateau of Piana delle Pesche, where, amidst beech trees and centuries-old oaks, there is a completely abandoned and vandalised farm complex.
We continue for a short distance on the asphalt road; then, after passing the last building, we turn left at the fence (pay attention as the signs are not very visible) and take the path inside the beech wood and begin the descent (about 400 m drop), which gradually becomes steeper and has a series of bends. The path becomes a dirt track and finally an asphalt road.
After passing a fountain with drinking water, we continue along the path of the "percorso vita" (so as not to lose altitude unnecessarily). After a few kilometres of gentle descent, we take the asphalt road on the left and then, then in a U-bend, we come across a carriage road on the left between two olive groves. We continue until we meet another asphalt road, turn right downhill and keep left at the fork. We follow the road always in an easterly direction, between olive fields, until we reach the Monastery of San Pasquale, from where we make the final descent (about 150 m drop) down a long, well-marked staircase to Faicchio.
The population of Faicchio is not concentrated in the historic centre, but is well distributed throughout the municipality. In the past, there were small rural villages throughout the municipal territory, which stretched between the Matese massif and Monte Acero.
Evidence of the presence of these settlements can be found in the remains of churches built between the 6th and 12th centuries, where the ancient frescoes are clearly visible.
Faicchio is located in the Sannio campano, a historical-geographical area marked by the presence of the Italic Samnite population. There are numerous testimonies of their civilisation, in particular on the peaks of Monte Acero there are three kilometres of megalithic walls, the Arce di Monte Acero: a fortress with a sighting function.
Some scholars claim that the ancient city of Tulisium stood on Monte Acero, while others believe that the ancient city was located near present-day Telese Terme. The walls, which date back to the 6th century BC, are made of rectangular blocks of stone set up dry. They used to be popularly called "fairy walls" because they were not believed to have been built by human hands.
The Castle of Faicchio was built in the 12th century by the Counts of Sanframondo, feudal lords originally from Cerreto Sannita, to control the passage between Monte Acero and Monte Monaco di Gioia.
In 1612, the castle was acquired by Gabriele De Martino, who received the title of Baron Duke of Faicchio and transformed the building into an elegant ducal palace. The four cylindrical towers characterise the renovated structure at the corners, recalling the Maschio Angioino. In modern times it was gradually abandoned, and, despite several renovations in the second half of the 20th century, the castle has only been restored to its former glory since the early 2000s, thanks to a group of local entrepreneurs who invested in a hotel & restaurant, venue for events and celebrations.
Above the village of Faicchio, on the side of Monte Monaco di Gioia, rises the impressive Monastery of San Pasquale, where you can admire the magnificent 18th-century frescoes of the adjoining church SS. Salvatore.
From the monastery, you can walk to the Grotta di San Michele, a place dedicated to the cult of the Archangel since the Lombard period. Inside the cave, there is a church which has three rooms decorated with numerous frescoes with a clear Byzantine influence and many stalactites and stalagmites.
In the locality of Fontanavecchia, there are architectural findings from Roman times: a bridge dedicated to Quinto Fabio Massimo, a Roman dictator who passed through here to oppose the advance of Hannibal, and the underground aqueduct dating back to the 3rd century BC, that crosses the historic centre of Faicchio with a tunnel two metres high and eighty centimetres wide.
Typical of the Benevento area is bread made from saragolla, which is highly digestible and rich in protein.
Saragolla is an ancient variety of durum wheat imported from the Middle East in 400 AD by people in the area of present-day Bulgaria. The name comes from the South Slavic language group and indicates the intense yellow colour of the grain.
After a period of abandonment, its production is recovering, thanks to the Slow Food Presidium.
Bed Breakfast Del Duca, in Faicchio. Tel. +39380 390 0035
Casa Vacanze Surripe, in Faicchio. Tel. +39347 122 0077
Casa Vacanze Magie del Sannio, in San Pasquale (2 km from Faicchio). Tel. +39392 219 7221
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.