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Stage 11 : Casaletto Spartano / San Giovanni a Piro

At the end of the 11th stage we will find the sea again, the sea of the beautiful Gulf of Policastro. Departing from Casaletto Spartano (or the very nearby hamlet of Battaglia) we continue to Tortorella, a center perched on a formidable ridge (I Rupazzi) overlooking the Rio Casaletto. At the small traffic circle below the village, take the narrower road down to the right. This mostly downhill route goes through long wooded sections until it reaches a junction of several roads. To the right of the one signposted Villammare (marked with a large cement block) is another, narrower descent, which, after about 2km, will merge onto SP210, but not before offering you a few glimpses of the Gulf sea. At the junction, continue straight (southbound) for about 600m to a second junction. Here you may decide to continue ever onward and arrive directly on the coast, first passing through Vibonati, a beautiful village nestled on a ridge covered with one of the last cork forests. The Silent Way, however, is the one that turns right in the direction of Santa Marina. The route then descends toward Policastro Bussentino, and in many views Mount Bulgheria, with its barren, seemingly pyramidal profile, appears in the distance. In Policastro one passes the former Cathedral of the Assumption and glimpses the remains of Byzantine fortifications. Passing under the railway, continue in the direction of Scario. This small seaside village is among the most beautiful and renowned in Cilento, characterized in particular by the harbor with the Church of the Immaculate Conception. It is worth making a stop here, in the shadow of the soaring bell tower or arriving near the lighthouse on the other side of town, before resuming the path, which climbs considerably along a stretch of a good 7 km, to the village of Bosco. The village is known for the massacre of the local population ordered by General Del Carretto during the Bourbon repression of 1828, which also sanctioned the suppression of the municipality (today it is a hamlet of S.Giovanni a Piro). In memory of this massacre, Spanish exile José Ortega painted 196 tiles at the entrance to the village. In Bosco the artist, a pupil of Picasso, lived for 20 years, and his home in Santa Rosalia Square is now a House-Museum, open daily from June 15 to September 15 (reservations must be made during the remaining months). You leave Bosco and turn back at the fork, to take the SS562 again to the right until the stage town, San Giovanni a Piro, now only a few kilometers away. The center presumably arose at the hands of refugees from Policastro fleeing the Saracen attack of 915. Nearby are the remains of the important Cenobio of St. John the Baptist, founded in 990 at Ceraseto by Italo-Greek monks. Also notable is the Pietrasanta Shrine, located on a rocky ridge about 2 km from the town. It was, most likely, the monks of the nearby Cenobio who carved, around 1200, on the monolithic tip of Mount Piccotta, the statue of Our Lady, forming a single body with the niche hollowed out in the stone. For those who wish to stay here more than a day, from the village a path leads to the top of Mount Bulgheria (m 1215) while another beautiful path will take you to the enchanting little beach of Marcellino. On the other hand, if you are in a hurry to leave, at least take time for a salute to the Gulf of Policastro from the splendid Ciolandrea lookout. On the clearest days from here the Christ of Maratea is clearly visible, and the silhouette of Stromboli in the Aeolian Islands can even be seen.