This post is also available in: Italiano
Km: 115 km (65 km the first day, 50 km the second)
Cumulated meters climbed up: 3.850
Cumulated meters climbed down: 3.850
Main places we reached out:
Partenza da Terranova di Pollino – 905 m
Riserva Catusa – 1319 m
Riserva Statale Rubbio – 1471 m
Acquatremola – 1430 m
Lago Duglia – 1426 m
Piano di Jumento (Rueping) – 1583 m
Piano dei Moranesi – 1700 m
Casinò Toscano – 1663 m
Piano del Praino (la fagosa) – 1443 m
Pietra Caduta – 1351 m
Piano di Ratto – 1388 m
Colle Marcione – 1300 m
Civita – 432 m
Fonte Scosa – 761 m
Tra San Lorenzo Bellizzi e Cerchiara di Calabria – 825 m
Costeggiando la Serra di Paola – 1202 m
Madonna dello Sparviere (Canale di Vallone Lupara) – 1399 m
Lago artificiale di Piano Pichino, Località Tappaiolo (Canale di Vallone Lupara) – 1287 m
Alessandria del Carretto – 1020 m
Terranova di Pollino – 905 m
The second day of the journey along the Pollino National Park, together with Pasquale Larocca, winner of the IDITA Sport Racing in Alaska begins with a stretching session in the picnic area of Fonte Scosa, in within a nice background view of the rocks that rise high on the Raganello Gorges.
Once on the bike, we head towards Cerchiara di Calabria (CS), but without reaching it: about 3 kilometers from the village, we turn left and take an old provincial road located on the east side of San Lorenzo Bellizzi and to the west of Plataci, both small town part of the Park-zone.
The road is desolate, not at all busy: in these areas, if you are ready to explore steep slopes, you can easily come across secret hiding places, the caves, used, in the second half of the 1800s by those who revolted against the union of Italy: the Brigands .
Along the way we are happy to take a break with delicious wild berries, blackberries.
We reach the southern side of Monte Sparviere and I enter another world: a narrow road with a completely wooden guard rail at the edge of the road (on the right), the only obstacle between us and the overhang.
On our left a lot of vegetation descends steeply, very dense and we often run into natural water channels, which is why we continusly climb up and down.
I feel all in one with the landscape, losing time and space perception.
I leave here the link (sorry only in Italian) to the map instruction to visit Monte Sparviere and the surrounding area on an excursion.
The origin from which Monte Sparviero takes its name is also interesting: it derives from the bird of the same name, litteraly the Sparrowhawk, a bird of prey that is rarely found in southern European countries, nesting only in high mountain areas, at the threshold of 2,000 m. They nest in the southern Apennines exclusively on the Pollino mountains, in the Sirino hills and more rarely in the Sila, although it is often confused with its main double and antagonist, the goshawk.
During one of the water-re-filling pitstop, we come across a local gentleman who speaks a mixture of Calabrian and Albanian dialects: many of the Calabrian villages of the area included in the Pollino National Park have indeed Arbereshe or Albanian origins.
A very steep last stretch on the dirt road forces me to go down to walk my bike, pushing it for about ten meters. The reward is the beginning of a long downhill stretch, always surrounded by greenery but this time with a gravel road, slightly beaten and doable even witha car.
The route runs along the south-east side of the Timpone della Neviera (1587m) and Timpone del Montillo (1270m). The area we cross is full of fountains, springs, open spaces and equipped with tables and not only stone barbecues but even ovens!
The recration area is built around a small sanctuary that of the Madonna dello Sparviere at about 1400 meters. The place is very suggestive and I might come back here perhaps for a hike or a picnic (food and wine) in good company.
Continuing the downhill, we first reach an area probably used for some fauna and flora watching activities, with a building and an artificial lake, the Piano Pichino Lake, in the Tappaiolo area (Canale di Vallone Lupara) at 1300 meters and immediately after the Sciortaglie refuge.
We return to the road from where, after a few hundred meters, I begin to glimpse Alessandria del Carretto, a village located at 1000 meters above sea level, included in the area of the Pollino National Park.
I leave here direct link to Il Cammino Basiliano that sees Alessandria del Carretto and Cerchiara di Calabria as one of the several itinerary included in journey with more than 1300 km, which follows the tracks of the Italo-Greek monks inspired by the life of San Basilio.
It is a small and cute village where the houses and many buildings are built mainly with stone. The main church, by Alessandro Papa, the Chidichimo palace and the church of San Rocco are very characteristic as well as the murals, made during the Traditional Culture Festival held in August.
We are lucky enough to find the only bar in the village with a semi-open shutter. We kindly ask (by knocking) availability for fresh drinks and the lady kindly smiled and helps us.
Back off the road to cover the last 15 km, characterized by a first part mostly downhill (but in the mountains there is always the leg-breaking climb around the corner, even when they tell you it will be all downhill, don’t believe at them! ).
We keep on cycling on a road that will lead us, mostly downhill, on a bridge that crosses the Sarmento river. From here on, only 5 km are standing (yes it’s uphill!) between us and Terranova di Pollino, the arrival point. Unexpectly we find ourself for the last 3 km under lot of rain. What better ending for such experience ?!
Personally, I think this experience is really unique.
Pasquale led me on the edge of my limits that I would not have ever thought I could overcome so soon. At the same time I acquired (and absorbed) from him skills, techniques both at the camping level and biking as well.
Almost 4,000 m in altitude, both uphill and downhill, in less than 120 km, was a milestone that I had never reached before.
Thanks again to Pasquale Larocca to whom I invite you to address to if you want to experience climbing, canyoning, trekking, MTB or eBike excursions, ski mountaineering and many other activities, in the beauty of the Pollino National Park.