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Stage 6 : Petina / Roscigno

Petina – Roscigno is not an easy stage: today you must prepare to face the Alburni Mountains again, reaching altitudes up to 1200 meters above sea level. From Petina follow the signs to the Casone Aresta astronomical observatory. A considerable climb begins within a dense chestnut forest at the end of which you will find yourself on a wide clearing: here stands the Observatory, a striking and isolated building, made somewhat surreal by the characteristic metal dome that houses the scientific instruments. Past the Casone dell’Aresta, a path deflects from the main route to ascend the relief of Costa Palomba (1125 m) , on the summit of which is the Anthex, a sculpture carved in a boulder depicting a warrior at natural height, dressed in a chiton and armed with a club and shield. Oriented toward the west, Anthex could be a representation of a god or hero. The dating of the sculpture is rather difficult, but still between the first millennium and the 4th century BC. Reaching the warrior will cost you time and effort, and at some point you will have to leave your transportation and continue on foot. Certainly once you reach your destination you will be speechless at the sight of the extraordinary panorama that Anthex has enjoyed for millennia. Getting back on the bike will be all downhill to Sant’Angelo a Fasanella. Between June and July a brushstroke of yellow goes to color this mountainside, and the smell of flowering broom will accompany you all the way into the village. In Sant’Angelo yet another wonder of this route awaits you; just outside the town, under a rocky ridge to the west, the Grotto of St. Michael the Archangel opens. Here the work of nature and that of man meet in a relationship of mutual respect and awe. Accessible through a late fifteenth-century portal, which recovers two medieval lion sculptures, the interior of the cave has a series of very wide and high caverns, with a terracotta and majolica floor dating from 1614. Works include the tomb of Abbot Francesco Caracciolo from 1585, a well, a pulpit, a Baroque altar, and two niches with statues of the Virgin (13th-14th centuries). The site, as well as Anthex, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Moving away from Sant’Angelo a Fasanella you pass through Corleto Monforte, at which point you will be only about 10 kilometers from your destination and will probably be able to reach Roscigno in time to see the sun set among the old houses of the ghost town. The small hamlet, affected by severe landslides in the 17th and 18th centuries, was finally abandoned between 1902 and 1908, following the enactment of special laws that sanctioned the relocation of the inhabitants to new center one kilometer upstream. Since then, time seems to have stood still and the atmosphere here can hardly be described. Pitch your tent if you like in front of the large abandoned church: you will spend one of the absolute most magical nights of your journey on the Silent Way.