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From Castropignano to Toro

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A cloudless sky tells me I can forget about enjoying any coolness today as well. I set off downhill, towards the Biferno river. Near the watercourse is a small chapel dedicated to St. James, the protector of pilgrims. I soon reach the river. The ancient bridge once used by shepherds no longer stands and despite the drought water is flowing consistently in the riverbed, so I need to make a detour along the SS647 to reach a modern bridge. The road is particularly busy, but the verge is really wide, so it is pretty safe.

It is quieter once across the bridge and I start climbing the same hill I admired yesterday from the observation terrace. There is an amazing number of uncontrolled dogs, but apart from their barking they keep away. In my climb I come across the remains of a fox which has been partially mauled. I blame the dogs at first, but then the typical droppings wolves use to mark their territory give a different explanation to what has happened.

Everything seems to be running the way it should today. Not only is the white road itself very convenient, a dirt track used by agricultural vehicles runs along it, so walking is a real pleasure.

When the climb gets lighter, I come across an information board according to which I have reached Rocca di Oratino... hold on, another one says I'm in Santo Stefano... no, no, stop, I may have reached the Sanctuary of the "Madonna della Neve" (Snow Madonna)... what is this chaos?! It is easy to guess what happened. Instead of placing the notices in the right spots, someone must have thought that putting them all in just any point along the tratturo would be cheaper... with all due respect to travellers. For my most curious followers I have highlighted the correct location of the various places mentioned by the notices on the GPS track placed at the bottom of this page, just for a laugh!

The tratturo as I would like it to be

In this stage too I would only introduce minimal changes to what my route was and they all revolve around the Taverna del Cortile. As mentioned in the text alongside, past the tavern the tratturo is still in good conditions, but it lacks dirt roads, so travellers must walk on the asphalt. With just a little effort...

n/a km, n/a

When I reach Santo Stefano I drink at a fountain to cool down, then my journey starts again with a light climb. The situation is idyllic: the track is easy, the breeze mitigates the roasting summer temperature, the tratturo is perfectly visible, wide, and impressive... I expect that someone or something will bring me back to reality at any time. Instead it all goes on for the best.

I temporarily leave the tratturo close to SS710, a very busy road, in order to cross it somewhere more convenient. Passing in front of Hotel Tavernetta I realise it might be time for a short rest, before moving on to one of my goals today: the "Taverna del Cortile". It is one of the many ancient taverns located along the tratturo which acted as resting points for shepherds. The Taverna del Cortile was particularly important because it stood on a road node of the tratturo system. Indeed, two tratturelli (minor tracts) intersected here: the Cortile-Matese one, which led to the Pescasseroli-Candela tratturo, and the Cortile-Centocelle, which allowed reaching the Celano-Foggia tratturo. Both are still partially usable.

The Taverna del Cortile has recently been renovated. Actually, "€˜rebuilt"€™ is more suitable, since little (or nothing) is left of the original building. Things could have been done better. It looks abandoned right now and its future destination is not clear. Maybe a restaurant?

The Taverna del Cortile is the fulcrum of a road junction today, so much so that resuming the tratturo is no easy task. Almost in front of the tavern a small hidden arch allows passing under the railway: it is the right direction and after a few hundred meters you reach the tratturo again. The journey continues along an asphalt road for a while: the tratturo is clearly visible from the satellite, but there are no cart roads running over it or trees to offer some shade. After a while, right in the middle of the tratturo, a building appears on the horizon. Isn'€™t building on the tratturo forbidden? Its function is not clear, but it does look like a public building: you can expect anything from privates, but if the public administration acts the same too, then we're in a bad way... Fortunately, a dirt road appears shortly after next to the asphalt road and my anger cools off. As I approach Campodipietra, a billboard advertises a festival promoting the tratturo. Now we are talking sense!

A tree appears at last - it is the first one - and I can have a rest and eat a peach. I might be lying on private property, since it is located right in front of a house and shortly afterwards the owners drive out. I fear they are going to send me away, instead they give me a friendly greeting out of their car window before driving off. Once again, everything is going fine.

I'm just about to take up my walk again when a car suddenly stops right in the middle of the road, right in front of me. A man gets out. Oops, he's heading straight towards me! No panic, I'€™ll introduce myself... but there is no need. It is Fernando, the friendly manager of the B&B where I'm going to stay. It is so hot that he has thought of coming to my rescue. I am amazed by such kindness which I reciprocate... by declining his invitation! All in all, the day has gone so smoothly and there is a light pleasant breeze which spurs me on. Moreover, the surface of this stretch of the tratturo is very convenient and clearly visible, so I want to enjoy the walk right to the end. I watch him leave looking puzzled... he must have thought: trust me to end up with all the screwballs!

It is a pleasant walk to Campodipietra, where it is time to leave the tratturo which descends towards the valley. I have found no accommodation in Campodipietra so I have to walk on asphalt road for a while as I divert towards Toro. Fernando is there waiting for me in his B&B which is located in the centre, in a building which he has renovated himself. I can guarantee that the location is really beautiful and that the welcome is special. Fernando tells me about his business, while I tell him about my experience along the tratturo and about my goal to map it entirely with my GPS. He slowly begins to understand why I wouldn’t take his ride.

I spend the afternoon wandering around the village. The old part is a little gem, with narrow alleys where cars cannot go along and people sit in the streets enjoying the afternoon coolness and chatting to their neighbours. Every now and then, I walk past Fernando, intent on playing cards with his friends. He watches me slyly out of the corner of his eye: everything is under control!

The day ends in a pizzeria. Surprisingly, Fernando joins me while I'm waiting for my pizza. A beer with a friend is the perfect end to a wonderful day. Thank you Fernando for your fantastic welcome.

 

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Track of the day

24.3 km, 00:17:37

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