A long and practically flat stage, along the Apulian Aqueduct.
The final stretch, in the Mercadante forest, diversifies a fairly monotonous stage.
No signage: better to monitor the GPS track.
Single water point at the entrance to the Mercadante forest.
We leave Quasano following the Apulian Aqueduct; shortly after, we detach from it and take the small road on the right, then the provincial road, always on the right, thus bypassing a section of the closed Apulian Aqueduct. After approximately 3 km, we take a minor road on the right to return to the Aqueduct cart track, on the left.
After a couple of km, we repeat the same "bypass" operation by returning to the provincial road and passing the busy state road and the railway with an underpass, to then return to the Apulian Aqueduct (DO NOT continue on it, thinking to walk less: it becomes then impossible to overcome the state road and the railway).
Back on the dirt road of the Aqueduct, we continue straight ahead on flat, until we turn right to reach a provincial road that we follow to the right, for a few hundred meters, and we turn left to enter the Mercadante forest (where we find the only point water of the stage). We cross the pine forest, with some slight ups and downs (the only ones of the stage), on a wide and comfortable path; turning east, we skirt a residential area and take the path on the right.
We reach a small pond and turn left to enter a stretch of shrub vegetation; finally, we reach the asphalted road (the Santuario di Santa Maria degli Angeli deserves a short detour) which, within a couple of km, leads to the center of Cassano nelle Murge.
Cassano delle Murge owes the first part of its name to the Roman-Italic divinity of Giano (Casa Jani); the hypothesis is supported by the discovery of a temple dedicated to this divinity under the church of SS. Crocefisso.
The god Janus was one of the most important deities of the Roman pantheon: he occupied the same royal position as Saturn and was depicted two-faced, indicating his ability to look to the past and the future.
Since there are 7 municipalities in Italy that have the name Cassano, in 1862 "delle Murge" was added to avoid confusion.
Murgia owes its name to the characteristic sharp rocks that characterize its territory: the name derives from the Latin word murex (“murex”), which indicates a variety of mollusks with a shell characterized by many sharp protuberances.
Some believe instead that the name Murgia derives from the Oscan language (spoken by the Osci, a Samnite tribe) and that it means "stone".
Cassano is surrounded by countryside and greenery; in particular, just outside the village, we find the Mercadante forest, planted in 1928 to avoid the continuous hydrogeological instability caused by karst.
In the previous years, the city of Bari had been hit by three heavy floods because the poor and bare soil was unable to filter the heavy rains; for this reason, mainly conifers were planted which, in addition to growing rapidly, facilitated the repopulation of native species, such as downy oaks and holm oaks.
Just outside the town, on a promontory, stands the Santuario di Santa Maria degli Angeli from where you can enjoy a wonderful landscape up to the plain of Bari.
The church owes its name to the fresco of the Virgin in the cave, the object of worship after its miraculous discovery, following which the church was built. The cave was gradually abandoned; it was only rediscovered in 1855.
The sanctuary is characterized by the luster of its white stone.
The symbol of the territory is the red onion of Acquaviva delle Fonti, a real product of excellence of the Murgian agriculture, protected by the Protected Designation of Origin and the Slowfood Presidia.
The red onion, with its characteristic size (it can weigh up to 500 g), its flattened shape and its purplish color, is appreciated for its sweetness. The red onion calzone is one of the typical recipes - stuffed with onion, ricotta forte, eggs and pecorino cheese.
In the village of Cassano, there are traditional open-air stoves where meat is grilled; in particular, lamb chops with onions on the spit, goat and the ghimirid, which is lamb entrails on a spit.
B&B Corte Campanile, in Cassano delle Murge. Tel. +39 389 635 1472
Hotel dell'Ulivo, in Cassano delle Murge. Tel. +39 327 310 4391
B&B Le Chiocciole, in Cassano delle Murge. Tel. +39 348 100 5305
In Cassano delle Murge there are several accommodation facilities.
Starting point reachable by car.
Departure point NOT reachable by bus.
The nearest locality reachable by bus is Mellito, starting from the city of Bitonto.
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.