This is a long and intense stage that, after a long flat and asphalt section, has a final climb in the Partenio Regional Park that should not be underestimated.
In the middle part of the stage you ride for about 6 km on a provincial road: the road is quite busy and you have to be very careful.
The last climb of the stage requires good training, both because of the overall height difference and because the road is often slippery: do not underestimate it.
We leave the sanctuary and retrace our steps along the last stretch of the previous stage, on a good, up and down path for about 1.5 km; then we turn left and start the steep descent (about 300 m drop) on a good, stepped path through the woods towards the Bucciano plain, passing shortly afterwards the cave of San Simeone (with its frescoes!). At the end of the descent, we cross an asphalt road and turn left onto a secondary road until we come to a larger one, which we follow to the left; shortly afterwards, we take a secondary road on the left and follow it until we reach the village of Montesarchio.
After the village, we continue straight ahead on the provincial road for about 6 km, crossing the large plain until we pass between the houses of San Martino Valle Caudina; then, still on the asphalt road, we approach the mountains and come close to the Caudino torrent, which we do not cross, keeping to the left before the bridge.
We continue on the asphalt road and start the long climb (about 850 m height difference). After a few hairpin bends, we take the path on the right (initially cobbled) and continue; the route is initially very steep with a few stretches obstructed by fallen trees, then the path becomes wider and the gradient less steep. When we come to a road, we take it to the right and shortly afterwards take a paved road that climbs steeply to the left; this is how we reach the Mafariello rest area with a large refuge; we cross an asphalted road and soon after come across a large fountain that is truly a providence.
Refreshed, we continue along the path; then we take the asphalt road to the right; after the first bend, we take a dirt road on the right which climbs steeply but gradually; then we take the small path to the left and we are faced with the last section of the climb, which is very steep and made more difficult by the slippery surface of mud and rotten leaves. As soon as we reach a saddle, we take the asphalt road to the right and, with a final effort, after a few kilometres, we reach the Acqua delle Vene refuge.
The Acqua delle Vene refuge is located in the Partenio Regional Park, which includes the area of the homonymous mountains, also called Monti di Avella, whose highest peak is Acerone di Avella (1589 m).
The park includes 22 municipalities between the provinces of Avellino and Benevento and not only preserves the natural heritage of the Partenio ridge, but also promotes the cultural aspects of the area: In pre-Roman times, two branches of the Samnite tribe (Irpini and Caudini) were settled in the park area.
The park also hosts the WWF Oasis"Montagna di sopra": a 312-hectare area where the Mediterranean and Apennine environments overlap. The Oasis is also a special protected area, home to numerous plant and animal species, and has recently become home to the wolf once again.
The Partenio area was the scene of action by several bands of brigands in the post-unification period, in particular the La Gala brothers.
Cipriano and Giona La Gala had committed numerous crimes in their youth and became famous for their assault on the prison in Castellammare di Stabia; their escape enabled many convicts to escape and they joined the 300-strong gang of the two brothers.
The band of brigands, supported by influential figures linked to the Bourbon dynasty, were captured after embarking for Barcelona. The arrest triggered a diplomatic case between the kingdom of Napoleon III and the Italian authorities; the event threw a clear light on the involvement of the Bourbon legitimist committees in support of brigandage.
Before reaching the woods of the Partenio mountains, we cross the Valle Caudina, the site of the famous “Forche Caudine”, which cost the Romans dearly.
In the village of San Martino Valle Caudina you can admire the Castello di Pignatelli della Leonessa. The castle was the first nucleus of the village and has accompanied its history. The interiors are valuable, especially the frescoes in the hall, painted between the 17th and 18th centuries.
The castle of Montesarchio, on the other hand, is of Norman origin and here too you can admire the frescoes that tell of the epic deeds of the Leonessa family.
During the Christmas holidays, it is customary in the Avellino region to eat the “castagne del prete” (chestnuts of the priest). These are chestnuts, usually from Montella, which, after being dried over a slow fire on grates (these grates are called gratali), are baked in the oven and then rehydrated in a container with water and wine to release their aroma. The wettest ones are called “mosce” and strung with a string like a rosary.
The name “castagne del prete” seems to be linked to a legend according to which it was a priest who experimented with the recipe so as not to waste a large quantity of chestnuts he had received as a gift that had fallen into the water.
The Salame di Mugnano (Mugnano salami) is a sausage made of pork meat, characterised by the smoking process.
It has been known since 1300 and is dried in the typical wind that blows in a south-south-westerly direction; this geographical peculiarity gives the salami the aromas of beech, oak and chestnut that make it an inimitable product.
Another typical product of the Avellino region is tarall' cu ll'ove, also known as tarallo di San Palerio. This is a sweet tarallo made with wheat flour and eggs and flavoured with citruses peel and vanilla.
It was a traditional preparation at Easter time, when families would get together and bake all the taralli in the same oven after boiling them for a few minutes. The tarallo was also prepared in June for the feasts of Saint Anthony of Padua and Saints Palerius and Equitius Martyr and given to the town criers who went on a quest.
Rifugio Acqua delle Vene, inside the WWF Oasis of Montagna di Sopra (reservation required, there is no manager at night and it must be opened). Tel. +39339 830 5044
Starting point reachable by car.
Starting point NOT reachable by bus.
The nearest location that can be reached by bus is Moiano, starting from the city of Benevento.
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.