A short but very intense stage that opens the gate to the Picentini Mountains and is characterised by a very long climb. We conquer the summit of Terminio (1,806 m), where our gaze is lost in the heart of Irpinia.
The ascent to the Terminio, although it does not contain any technical passages and runs mostly in the shade of the wood, is very long and in places very steep: it therefore requires a good level of fitness.
In some parts of the climb, the path is very difficult to see, and the signs are not always visible; the same applies to the descent to Piani di Verteglia in the woods; it is advisable to follow the GPS track.
There are no water points until the arrival: take a good supply with you.
We leave the village of Serino and, after a stretch on asphalt, we join a dirt road; soon the long climb (about 1,300 m height difference) towards Terminio begins. After a little more than 1 km, we leave the dirt road in a hairpin bend and take a small path uphill. The path is almost always sheltered by the shade of the beech wood, except for a few sections where we come out into the open; the track on the ground is not always present or clear and you have to sharpen your eyesight to make out the markings.
After the first 1,000 metres of altitude, we find an easy stretch on a flat mule track that cuts through the northern slope of Colla di Basso (1,526 m); we reach a saddle from where we take a narrow path and tackle the last stretch of the climb (about 400 m height difference), which is quite steep: first in the open, with views of vertical limestone cliffs and green woods, we then return to the woods (it is not easy to find the gap, follow the GPS track ) and continue until we reach the small meadow below the northern peak of Terminio; we cross the meadow and, with a final climb, we reach the summit of Terminio (1,806 m), from where we can enjoy an incredible landscape of the Picentini and, in the distance, the Monti Lattari.
From the summit we begin our descent (about 550 m drop), soon re-entering the beech forest; the path softens after a sharp stretch and becomes a carriage road, from which we leave to tackle a narrow and slightly exposed path over a rocky ravine completely covered in dry leaves (be careful not to slip); then, following the markings, we finally reach the asphalt road, take it to the left and reach the large Piani di Verteglia.
The Verteglia plateau is located within the Parco Regionale dei Monti Picentini, established in 1995.
The vast area of the Picentini mountain range is bounded by the Monti Lattari chain to the west, by the Sele valley to the southwest and by the Partenio range to the north. These mountains are called Picentini because the Piceni once arrived here: some claim that the first people came to this area following the woodpecker (sacred animal of the Ver sacrum); another version, more likely to be true, says that the Piceni were deported here by the Romans after one of the wars between Rome and the Italic peoples.
In the municipality of Montella, on the banks of the river Calore, is the Convento di San Francesco a Folloni. It seems that the saint from Assisi founded the convent in the wood of Folloni in 1222.
The monastery experienced a period of great splendour thanks to the local feudal lords and the support of the sovereigns of Naples. The current layout, in Baroque-Rococo style dates back to the 18th century, when it was rebuilt after the destruction caused by the earthquake of 1732. The bell tower, the portico and the apse of the church are original.
The Santuario del Santissimo Salvatore is 954 metres above sea level and overlooks the village of Montella.
The eighteenth-century sanctuary is linked to the legend of the bell that was transported up the hill by cart: it is said that the oxen, not at all exhausted by the difficult journey, prostrated themselves before the altar of the Holy Saviour. Since then, devotees have been climbing on their knees the stairs that lead to the beautiful altar made of polychrome marble of the Neapolitan school. In this sanctuary, the iconography of Jesus of the Transfiguration, brought to the West in 1457 by Pope Calixtus II, is venerated.
In the large square surrounding the sanctuary is the Ponte dei miracoli, built in the 18th century to commemorate the miracle that opened a spring at the very top of the mountain. Nearby is a monument to the emigrants: a bronze obelisk with a twenty-petalled rose at its base, which is said to protect all the Montellese emigrants scattered throughout the world.
A typical product of this area is the Montella chestnut, whose DOC label of 1987 was supplemented by the PGI in the following decade.
The historical importance of this fruit goes back to very ancient times, even before Christ: the Lombards passed laws in the 6th century to regulate its cultivation. Chestnut flour was a basic product for the mountain regions. The characteristics of the Montella chestnut are its small size and its flat underside. The variety is also called Palommina because of its resemblance to a dove, "palomma" in the local dialect. Boiled chestnuts are called Valani, while those cooked on the fire are called Varole. The chestnut "Castagna di Montella" continues to follow emigrants from this land and about half of the production now goes to the United States and Canada.
A special ricotta cheese called "Ricotta Manteca di Montella" is produced in Montella: it has a cylindrical shape and is characterised by its straw-yellow colour and is kept in so-called "foscelle", which used to be made of rushes and are now made of plastic. This production has also crossed the municipal borders and its unique shape has become a variety of ricotta: "type Montella".
Another typical cheese product of the region is burrini. When there was no plastic packaging or refrigerators, the butter was put into a small mould of caciocavallo cheese to preserve it. The absence of oxygen kept the valuable fat for a long time.
Rifugio Perlasca, in Piani di Verteglia. Tel. +393471344719
Starting point reachable by car.
Starting point reachable by bus, starting from the city of Avellino.
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.