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Thursday, 26 November 2015

FAVOURITE TRAILS - PART 2

As promised, here is the second of Giovanni Visetti's favourite trails:
Caserma Forestale - Monte Catiello rockfall (4 January 2002)
As in the previous walk, and as is often the case, the most spectacular parts of the trail are not right by the road. This leaves you free to choose your starting point (at either extremity as you prefer) and the route back to your car or nearest public transport. More of that later. 
So, what makes this itinerary so interesting? Out of all the routes from Santa Maria del Castello to Capo Muro, this stretch is the most varied, being the highest and passing as it does at the foot of imposing cliffs and crossing deep gorges that, although south-facing, get little light. The western part includes open stretches offering extensive panoramas, whilst to the east there are views of the impressive 2002 rockfall. And as if this was not sufficient, thanks to the varying environment, the vegetation frequently changes: the garrigue gives way to woods, cypresses to oaks, not to mention the wild orchids and other less known species that in season can be found along the way. 
The route is not particularly difficult unless you wish to cross the rockfall, when the faint of heart, the less agile or anyone with little sense of balance could encounter problems. However, they too can enjoy this walk by keeping it to the minimum indispensible, and that is by going from S.Maria del Castello to the edge of the landslide and back the same way. This is definitely not the ideal solution for anyone who has the time and the legs, but it reduces  the total distance and elevation to a minimum: a couple of kilometres to the Forestale (intersection Conocchia), another 700 metres along the path as far as the turning that goes down to the road Montepertuso-Nocelle, and a further 1200m to the rockfall. In other words a grand total of roughly 4km including an approximate 300 metre difference in elevation.
The map below, although basic, gives various ideas as to how to create loops or at least not limit it to the there and back walk described above. There are effectively three points that can be reached fairly easily by car or even by public transport: 

  • S.Maria del Castello (few buses go there, but just a little lower down they are more frequent - stop at Anaro (between Moiano and Ticciano)
  • the road between Montepertuso and Nocelle (bus route Positano - Nocelle, virtually every hour)
  • Bomerano (bus), by car you can get to beyond Paipo

From wherever you wish to set off, the most logical thing is to include the Path of the Gods in the hike, being almost parallel to the trail but 300 to 400 metres lower down. If you use the planner  you can choose how to link the two paths, but of course whichever you choose will be steep. Both the Forestale and the Path of the Gods are not considered steep by experienced walkers since what slopes there are, are not long.
If you wish to limit the overall distance of your walk, you may omit the Path of the Gods and go straight down to Nocelle via Vagnulo from the rockfall. The lower part necessary to complete the loop is just over 1 kilometre long  and is along the road or via the paved path that brings you to the main road near the bridge.
In theory there are many other loops, but without going too far, the fitter could consider the hike around Sant'Angelo a Tre Pizzi.
Setting off from any point on Faito, you can descend via Palmentiello and then once near Crocella turn towards Capo Muro, continuing to the Forestale and crossing the rockfall (frana) before going back up to Faito via the Conocchia. This can also be done in the opposite direction, but if you consider how steep it is going up, the descent is no less, and for many it can be knee destroying! This option is optimal for the views and you could also include what will be the subject of my next favourite trail: Conocchia ridge - Molare, although all the other routes are valid.
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At this point, I would like to add a few observations of my own. I agree with Giovanni that this is a very pleasant and varied stretch with fantastic views on a clear day and that you can make it as easy or as difficult, as short or as long as you please. The rockfall crossing is a challenge, but perfectly feasible if you take it slowly and watch where you are putting your feet. The first time I crossed it, I was pretty intimidated, but more because everyone  was watching my discomfort than anything else. Again, if it is something I can manage, then anyone reasonably fit should be fine. Once over the rocks, there is an extremely steep part (up or down, depending which trail you take), and although as Giovanni says, both the Forestale and the Path of the Gods are fairly level (and therefore cannot be considered steep), both do have their seriously steep moments and the ground can be rocky and rough making it all a little trickier.

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