|Clck per allargare|
If things carry on the way they are at the onset... Start of the day: the path is immediately blocked by an electrified fence. Beyond the fence was one of the usual signs indicating the tratturo... and some Abruzzese shepherds... I mean, Abruzzese shepherd-dogs. Better leave the tratturo and continue for a few hundred meters on the road that runs parallel. I rejoined the tratturo a little further on, then followed a widely used cart track. It was a pleasure to walk along it, imagining what it must have been in the past, when it was trod on by the flocks.
Several secondary paths start from the cart track. After a while the "Fonte Palumbo", the remake of an ancient source of water (now dried out) appears.
Less than one kilometre past the source, the tratturo leaves the main path and becomes a narrow path whose beginning is partially hidden by tall grass. I have highlighted the junction point in the GPS track at the bottom of this page. The start of the path coincides with a wooden bridge (almost disrupted and partially hidden by the vegetation) which crosses a small stream.
This is where the serious problems began. Tall grass and brambles made it really difficult to walk. The path may be open in spring, but in summer it is virtually impossible. The photos on this page clearly show the state of abandonment of the path. However, the tratturo flag-signs, which were half-covered by the vegetation, indicated that this was the right direction.
The initial stretch must have been partially cleared for a mountain bike race one or two years before my journey so it was in relatively good condition. After that... a vegetation wall! The stretch towards the road to Vastogirardi is actually not very long (about 1.5 km), but because of the conditions it seemed neverending.
The tratturo continues after the road to Vastogirardi. Making progress was easier thanks to the sparse vegetation, but not that much. The tratturo was, in fact, barely visible and partially blocked in several points by small landslides that made it difficult to go on: I trusted the GPS indications to continue and followed the indications of some sporadic flag-signs.
At the Masseria Monte Pizzi I was touched by the way I was received: I was given the information I needed, something to drink, a map but, above all, I was greeted with deep human warmth. Thanks for everything!
But when I start back on my journey (if the people of the masseria had not told me where to look, I would never have found the tratturo, hidden by the vegetation) I was in trouble once again. Luckily no brambles along the way, but the tall grass was difficult to get through. Once more I had to trust the GPS because there were too few signs and the trail was almost invisible.
After all this trouble, I reached the Trigno river in Ponte S. Mauro on the SS86 road. There the tratturo continues... under the asphalt of the provincial road S. Mauro. Shortly after the start of the road, on the left the Agriturismo S. Mauro awaits trekkers for a break.
A note: dozens of signs with the writing "Tratturo" are scattered along the entire road. They are located just a few hundred meters from each other, on both sides of the road: what’s the point? Why spend so much money for totally useless indications located in places where getting lost is impossible?
At the end of the road, my troubles started again: tall grass, brambles, almost no signs... then the epilogue. A wall of brambles, perhaps a dozen meter wide, cannot be bypassed. I wasted a lot of time trying to find a way out. Ironically, a tratturo flag-sign seemed to be showing off right in the middle of the wall of brambles: it was the right road but there was no way to get through. The only possible solution was to turn back and go uphill. The GPS track in this page shows my attempts to find an exit from the maze of brambles!
It was late and finishing the leg on foot was by then impossible: I was forced to ask for a ride to the hotel.
The evening pastime consisted in removing thorns from my clothes!