Translated Jeff Matthews
Tuesday, December 8 - I took advantage of the holiday (the Immaculate Conception) and good weather (after a long inclement period) to hike into a new part of the Partenio mountains: Mt. Vallatrone a Summonte in the province of Avellino.
I quickly checked on-line and managed to come up with GPS coordinates for the best route and started my hike just outside of Summonte, a small town on the eastern slopes of the Partenio, a mountain range of the Campanian Apennines in the area known as Hirpinia. Precisely, I started at the Urupetra shelter (742 meters/c. 2300 feet above sea level) and hiked a 10 km ring route with an elevation differential of about 550 meters.
I parked my car in a square in front of the shelter (coordinate system UMT WGS 84 - 33 T 478495 4533476) and started up for about 1.3 km on a comfortable path paved with smooth stone. Then, still climbing, the path changed to a rougher cobble-stone surface and then to a dirt trail up to the Vicinale Forcetelle road (1240 meters/3720 feet - (33 T 476738 4533999). From there, I left the GPS trail I had found on-line and followed the asphalt road for about 1 km to the north and then took up the dirt road again, which from at point makes a turn to the east (33 T 476367 4534839). A bit before that turn you reach the highest elevation of the hike (1274 m/1820 ft); the trail continues level for a while and then starts to slope down and back to the Urupetra shelter.
Going down was immediately and noticeably the roughest part of the whole hike. The trail narrows down and, after the one and only panoramic point overlooking the valley below, really turns into a narrow, winding path. The CAI (Italian Alpine Club) flags with their double white and red stripes along the trail are barely visible to those who are following the trail in a clockwise direction; they are easier to see for those going clockwise (up).
The most interesting surprise of the day came almost at the end. Around 1.5 km from the end there was a stone gateway mounted by a papal coat of arms that opened onto a small square where there was a small stone church (33 T 478109 4534681). It goes back to the 11th century and was dedicated to Pope (and saint) Silvester. The structure, itself, consists of just a single facade fronting two levels: at the lower level the church is the entrance to the grotto and fount of miracles and a basin for the faithful; on the second level there must have been the bronze bell that was traditionally rung by pilgrims to tell the townsfolk in nearby Summonte, below, of their presence. The waters of the fount were reputed to cure illnesses of the skin.
Along the route there are no places to fill up on drinking water, thus take enough water with you for about a four-hour hike.
photos: Monte Vallatrone
GPS coordinates for hiking this trail by yourselves are at this link: Monte Vallatrone
Enjoy your hike!