Along the border between Campania and Molise, the majestic Monte Mutria rises where three provinces meet, Benevento , Caserta and Campobasso , and five municipalities, Cusano Mutri, Pietraroja, Piedimonte Matese, Guardiaregia and Sepino .
Monte Mutria is the third peak of the Matese massif and is among the most fascinating due to the beauty of the places and the panoramas it offers. We are inside the Oasis of Guardiaregia-Campochiaro and from the summit we dominate the valleys of the Tammaro to the east, the Calore Irpino to the south and the Volturno to the west.
Our adventure starts from the tourist resort of Bocca della Selva at an altitude of 1395 metres. There is a large parking area and several bars and sports equipment shops. Our ascent to the summit begins right here, following the paved road with a succession of hairpin bends up to a clearing where the road turns into a path. A simple route, well traced by CAI signs and very short, about 3km, leads to the top.
It starts first with the CAI 19a path and then connects to the CAI 100 , the route is characterized by wooded sections alternating with open paths . In some places you can enjoy a magnificent panorama overlooking the sea.
Unfortunately our ascent is accompanied by the first snowfall of the year and we find ourselves in the middle of a snowfall. When the wind blows strongly and the clouds open for a while, you can see the sea in the distance. We like to imagine being able to glimpse the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Adriatic Sea.
Having reached an altitude of almost 1700 meters from the sea, we leave the forest behind us and get ready for the last challenge: the final ascent. 120m of altitude difference to then reach the crest where without particular effort after another kilometer you reach the summit. This is marked with a pile of stones, therefore the summit cross at 1823 meters is missing . Despite the difficulties encountered, such as snow and wind, the view from the top is worth every effort.
Leaving the summit, the same route is retraced but with a small ring detour in order to reach the nearby small chapel dedicated to Sant’Antonio da Padova .
Arrived at the crossroads for the ascent from Bocca della Selva it is possible to choose to return and take the same road or to make the descent from the ridges towards Lake Matese. We choose the second choice to fully enjoy all the beauty of the whole massif of Mount Mutria. We follow the path towards the eastern sector on the ridge which develops from west to east for more than 8 kilometers crossing 7 rounded croups.
We overlook a spectacular panorama of Lake Matese (the highest karst lake in Italy) and the peaks of Gallinola and Miletto ; in a northerly direction, beyond the Canalone di Cusano and the Guardiaregia dam with the Quirino gorges , the whole of Molise can be seen; to the south opens the panorama of the civite of Pietraroja and Cusano Mutri, Mount Erbano , the Cigno and, further away, Vesuvius and the top of Monti Lattari . Enclosed between the arms of the Quirino torrent to the north and those of the Titerno to the south, the mountain feeds numerous springs every year with the melting of the snow.
Following the entire path we reach the paved road to the small refuge La Casella . From here begins the return to Bocca della Selva.
The route, classified as E (Hiking) deserves to be traveled and is truly one of the most beautiful in the Matese area. In addition to the panoramas that open downwards, the large karst depressions ( sinkholes ) are spectacular, which in spring are colored by the numerous mountain blooms. In winter the blinding white of the abundant snow dominates and the woods that lead to the ridge become real snow tunnels beyond which the intense blue of the clear sky of the Matese dominates.
Where does the name Mutria come from?
In a nice trip there is always a bit of history: the name ” Mutria “, of uncertain etymology, means ” frowning “, ” menacing “. The etymologies of the name of the nearby town, Cusano Mutri, report an ancient Greek root for “Mutri”: “stormy, covered with snow “; etymologies of the Samnite Pentri language would bring Mutri(a) back to Mutilie (mutilated, maimed, truncated). Besides the name of Samnite there is also something else. The mountain was considered sacred by the Samnites : in the area to the north, between Guardiaregia and Sepino, various sanctuaries, necropolises and sites arose (Sàipins, in the locality of Terravecchia).
Matese flora and fauna
The flora and fauna of Mutria are very diversified, more than on the other peaks of Matese. It is surrounded by dense woods. On the northern slopes, on the path that goes from Guardiaregia to Monte Mutria, stand the ” Tre Frati “, secular beech trees almost 500 years old. The holm oaks, maples and yew trees on the slopes give way to imposing beech woods and these to the meadows of the summit rumps.
Gentians , St. John ‘s lilies, aquilegia, belladonna, anemones, forget-me-nots and numerous species of wild orchids enrich and characterize the meadows and pastures with incredible nuances; there is no shortage of wild strawberries , blueberries, truffles and porcini mushrooms.
The rich hydrography and vegetation make possible the reproduction of numerous species of mammals, from the wolf to the fox, from the badger to the wild cat and the squirrel ; among the birds of prey there is the golden eagle , which nests in the Vallone dell’Inferno. In the beech woods that rise from Molise, from Bocca della Selva and from Pesco Rosito, it is not difficult to come across specimens of the Spotted Salamander or the small and rare Spectacled Salamander .
This journey to discover the beauty of Monte Mutria is an unforgettable adventure for all seasons! We have experienced these landscapes dressed in white and will return to see these beautiful woods in the spring.