If its doesn’t CHALLENGE you It Doesn’t CHANGE you

Monte Cervati da Sanza – The chapel of the Madonna della Neve

The Monte Cervati is the second highest peak of Campania : with its 1899 meters high stands placidly within the National Park of Cilento, Vallo di Diano and Alburni , and is a great attraction for lovers of the mountains and trekking in in the middle of nature. Reaching the summit is certainly a challenge at the same time stimulating and achievable, and if you too intend to undertake the climb, you will see that the satisfaction will be immense.

First of all, you need to know that there are three main ways to get to the top starting from the municipality of Sanza , in the province of Salero. The first, and also the most comfortable and easy along a dirt road, is also entirely accessible by car: a 17 km long dirt road will lead you to the Chapel of the Madonna della Neve . The other two, reserved for the more adventurous, are the Alta Via del Cervati and the Alburni and the Historic Path of the Madonna della Neve.

Below, we will describe them to provide you with the information you need to be able to choose the route you prefer.

The Alta Via del Cervati: a path through the meanders of geology

The Alta Via del Cervati winds for a total of 103 km, and can take an average of 6 days to cover. The difficulty level is medium, and also includes several stops in strategic points to be admired.

The last stage of the Via del Cercati is the climb to Cervati and can be started right from Sanza.

It is the ideal solution to immerse yourself completely in the geological and botanical wonders of the Cilento Park and rediscover a harmonious contact with nature. Mount Cervati, in fact, is not only renowned for its massive size, but also for the state of intact and perfect preservation of its rich ecosystem, which blooms above all in the beech woods. You will also be able to observe the phenomenon of epigean karst , widespread among the Campania reliefs. This term indicates a long and slow chemical reaction work produced by water on limestone rocks, however limited to the surface. The result is the numerous sinkholes and other grooves in the stone, typical of this area.

The route starts from the Ponte Inferno locality , near the fountain, a dirt road starts that runs along the Bussento river and will accompany you for 1 km starting from the Vallone dell’Inferno , at the entrance of which you will be greeted by forests of Turkey oaks, maples and hornbeam. Prepare to be amazed by the endless gorges carved by Bussento, its waterfalls and ponds and tunnels in the limestone rock.

After a few km you will reach Colle del Pero . Here you can admire the so-called Vallivona sinkhole (also known as the Vallivona sinker) , a true geological pearl. It is a gluttony, placed between sheer walls, 300 meters long and with an elliptical shape, which presents itself to the visitor exhibiting all its grandeur.

Continuing, the signs then lead to the crossroads that indicates the White Fir . It is a centuries-old tree, which exudes all the energy of nature imprinted on this mountain.

The next stop you can admire is the Nevera , a point where the constant shadow produced by the rocks prevents the snow from melting thanks to the sunlight, giving tourists the opportunity to admire it all year round. La Nevera can be reached through a narrow path that wriggles above the border of the forest line, in the middle of the bare rock, and along the entire path you can enjoy a truly breathtaking view. Unfortunately, due to the steep walls, access to the sinkhole is blocked, but the beauty of the surrounding landscape abundantly compensates.

Going up the very well marked path, you reach the dirt road that can also be traveled by car and finally you reach the Chapel of the Madonna della Neve , and a staircase that leads to the homonymous cave , a pilgrimage destination, especially during the Novena period (from 27 July to August 4) , the only days in which the iron gate is opened to the faithful.

From here it is possible to take the path towards the summit of Cervati. You will find yourself in the absence of a traced path, and therefore you will have to rely on instinct to find the right way. In any case, the last uphill stretch will take no more than about 30 minutes. Don’t be fooled by the apparent steepness: by following the right directions, you will see that getting to the top will be quite simple. One way is to go down to the plateau at the base of the church and then go up to the left. Alternatively, you can rejoin the Historic Path of the Madonna della Neve, which you will find described below.

The journey on a dirt road for bicycles, quads, motorcycles and cars

Chapel of the Madonna della Neve can also be reached by a dirt road to the top and can be traveled by bike, quad, motorbike and car. Obviously, traveling along the main road does not preclude the presence of some stages not to be missed. During the climb, therefore, you can leave your car safely while you look around to enjoy the natural wonders of the Cervati.

Starting from the nearby town of Sanza, after 6.5 km the road will split near Colle del Pero where it is possible to reach the Vallivona sinkhole described above, then the White Fir and finally the Nevera.

Always following the road, which is also part of the Silent Walk, you reach the square of the Chapel of the Madonna della Neve. At this point, by car you cannot continue further, so to reach the summit you must continue on foot.

The Ancient Path of the Madonna della Neve: the mystical encounter between faith and nature

Finally, the last possibility we propose is the one from the Ancient Path of the Madonna della Neve .

The route starts about 4 km from the center of the municipality of Sanza, and starts immediately with a climb on gravel ground. The barren and bare Vallone is gradually replaced by the dense vegetation of the wood, which will accompany you up to an altitude of 1350. Here you will reach the locality of Collata la Gorla and continue along the Chiaia Amara ridge .

The culmination of the route, obviously, located at 1852 m, is the Marian sanctuary of the Madonna della Neve, protector of the municipality of Sanza located in its natural cave and the origin of whose cult is lost in the mists of time. Behind it, your view will extend over a wonderful lawn, commonly called the Garden of the Madonna .

During the ascent, you will be able to enjoy the experience of observing a truly complex ecosystem, which is not afraid to show off all its incredible variety to the visitor. Not only the local vegetation, mainly composed of beech, alder, maple and holly woods, but also a very varied fauna. If you are lucky, you may see the wild cat, or even the wolf , but more easily spectacled frogs and salamanders . Also of great interest are the many species of birds of prey that have chosen Monte Cervati as their home, including the red kite, the black kite, the peregrine falcon, the eagle owl , and even the golden eagle .

A curiosity about the Bussento river

This river makes a very particular path. It was born on the southern slope of the Cervati, after which, having arrived near the town of Sanza, it sinks swallowed by the earth, crossing the Monte Panel passing under it. Finally, after 5 km, in the locality of Morigerati , it re-emerges. This stretch of path is therefore accompanied by the murmur of water, the true protagonist of the geological history of these places, thanks to its incessant modeling work.

All that remains is to wish you a wonderful walk.

Whichever trail you choose to take to reach the top, don’t forget to give all these wonders the attention they deserve. It is true that the greatest satisfaction, and also the main motivation that drives mountain lovers to undertake a climb, is reaching the summit, but don’t make the mistake of focusing only on the goal. As you approach the top, dedicate your time to enjoy the mountain, and immerse yourself in the beauty of this unrivaled mountain, to experience it to the fullest of possibilities.

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