Montevergine – Benevento Itinerary
Cycling enthusiasts refer to the descent from Santuario di Montevergine to Ospedaletto d’Alpinolo as “pure adrenaline”. Almost 11 km long, this steep downhill route, featuring 20 hairpin bends, takes you 500 metres downhill amidst breathtaking views. A glance at the horizon offers glimpses of Vesuvius and Monte Faito.
A short few minutes’ journey brings us to a height of approximately 700 m above sea level. From there, continue downhill to Summonte and stop at the water fountain by the Arco di San Nicola on your way into the town. The historical centre around Torre Angioina is a maze of 16th century buildings, internal courtyards and little medieval streets. The bell tower and church of San Nicola di Bari are particular noteworthy. For the last 20 years or so, Summonte has been hosting an annual ethnic music show known as “Sentieri Mediterranei” [Mediterranean Trails]. Local specialities include castagne del prete [priest’s chestnuts] and torrone, a nougat produced using honey and hazelnuts from the Irpinia region.
The route begins to head gently downhill, through the heart of the Partenio Regional Park and chestnut and oak forest, until you reach S. Angelo a Scala and the limestone monolith of Pietrastornina. The town is arranged around a unique spire. The region’s specialities include Annurca apples, a great source of vitamins, potassium, iron and phosphorus for cyclists.
Follow the road straight along the Sabato river, surrounded by fields, many of which are planted with tobacco, as far as Benevento, a small town, rich in history. Overall, the itinerary is no more than 40 km long, most of which is flat or downhill. While in the city, take in its main sights: the Sacramento archaeological area, Arco di Traiano [The arch of Trajan], the Santa Sofia monument complex, the Hortus Conclusus, the Rocca dei Rettori, the Ponte Leproso bridge, Villa dei Papi and the Roman Theatre. The effort is seriously worthwhile.
The route can also be followed in reverse, starting at Benevento and travelling uphill to Santuario di Montevergine. Less physically fit visitors may choose to take the cable car (followed by a bike ride) from Mercogliano, which reaches a height of 1200 m in just 7 minutes. This car is one of the most impressive technical feats of engineering in Italy, and is the second steepest in Europe.
Stop: Chiesa di Santa Sofia
Distance: 40 Km