Pagani – Montevergine Itinerary
The cycle route begins at Piazza D’Arezzo, Santuario della Madonna delle Galline [Shrine of Our Lady of the Hens] in Pagani (SA). The Shrine, with its baroque-style facade, is dedicated to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
Traditional lore tells us that in the 16th century, on the eighth day of Easter, a number of scratching hens revealed a small wooden tablet bearing the image of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Regarded as a divine discovery, this event inspired the establishment of a place of worship on the site. Each year, on Divine Mercy Sunday – the second Sunday after Easter – the statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is transported by her worshippers on a carriage. Traditionally, worshippers make offerings of hens and other birds to Our Lady. These offerings are accompanied by sweets or rustic tarts, and worshippers build toselli along the procession route: small shrines adorned with satin and lace covers and terracotta plaques. A number of courtyards also feature statues of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and small hens, and banquet tables of sweets and tarts. The sound of the Tammurriata folk dance can be heard in the background. From Easter Friday until the following Monday, worshippers dance to the rhythm of the folk music, before placing the tammorre [traditional percussion instruments] at Our Lady’s feet. Typical regional specialities associated with the event include tortani (rustic pastries prepared with lard and filled with hard-boiled egg and cicoli [pork scratchings]), an energising breakfast sold along the streets of the historical centre to prepare people for the significant uphill journey ahead.
The first 20 km are on level ground. The rural landscape (cultivated fields, citrus groves, pastures) provides a backdrop for the stretch as far as the Lattari Mountains, where the uphill route begins. A pleasant journey, alternating between level ground and uphill stretches, takes you to the province of Avellino and Bellizzi Irpino. Avellino is approximately 10 km away.
Stop to admire the Duomo di Avellino, which is worth a visit. Located at the highest point of the city, on the “La Terra” hill, the building, known as Cattedrale dell’Assunta, is the cornerstone of the Irpino capital’s religious activity. The church’s elegant facade was designed by architect Pasquale Cardola around 1860. The neo-classical style structure, in white and grey, is divided into two levels by a cornice. Of particular note on the lower
level are the three doorways, while the two niches either side of the main door house statues of St. Modestinus, patron saint of the city, and St. William, founder of the Montevergine monastery and patron saint of Irpinia.
The final leg of the itinerary take you to Santuario di Montevergine. The itinerary is characterised by an almost 1000 metre climb, with constant slopes, breathtaking views and frequent hairpin bends, allowing you to catch your breath and regain a steady rhythm. It has often formed part of the Giro d’Italia route.
The 17 km climb is challenging, but without sudden steep inclines. The average slope is 5%, except for the final stretch, where the incline exceeds 10%. The road is in excellent condition, and is very popular with cyclists. All of the effort is worthwhile, thanks to the views on offer in the heart of the Partenio Regional Park: pass by chestnut and hazel groves, and the villages of Mercogliano, Ospedaletto d’Alpinolo and Summonte, until you reach a hairpin bend with a roadman’s house, located approximately 2 km from Abbazia.
The view here is spectacular. On particularly clear days you can see Vesuvius, the Gulf of Naples, Monte Faito and the Sorrentine Peninsula mountain range.
And finally our destination: sitting 1270 metres above sea level, the origins of Santuario di Montevergine can be traced back to the consecration of the first church on the site in 1126. Some link the establishment of the Shrine to an apparition of Our Lady. What we know for sure is that it was St. William who dedicated a place of worship to the Virgin Mary on the peak of Monte Partenio. The Montevergine pilgrimage, combining a challenging climb with prayer and offerings to Our Lady, has placed Santuario Montevergine firmly among Southern Italy’s most visited sites dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
From: Santuario Madonna delle Galline
Distance: 52 Km