The Naturalistic and Environmental Pathway

This ecomuseum route is based on the search, within the surveyed territory of the province of Benevento (15 municipalities), for places of naturalistic – environmental interest.

  Therefore, the itinerary starts from the charming village of Apice Vecchia, located between three rivers – Miscano, Ufita and Calore – and standing on two historical roads – the via Numincia and the via Appia – that made it an important economic and social center starting from the Roman Empire.  Situated at the foot of the Campanian Apennines, it is structured into two settlements: the Borgo di Apice Vecchia, abandoned after the violent earthquake of ’80, and the Borgo di Apice Nuovo, built on the hill opposite.

Then we move on to the eastern slope of Mount Taburno, where we find the province’s other ghost town, Tocco Caudio, which is a wonderful green lung in the heart of Campania’s hinterland. Where the dense vegetation, at a certain point, breaks off to give way to a small village that, however, looks rather strange: everything is still and silent, so much so that it seems unreal. The desire to get closer to understand what strange magic is at work arises spontaneously, and that is when we come to a long road overgrown with grass at the sides of which are lined up abandoned houses, with no more present, but with a cumbersome past to tell: the long life of the hamlet.

Other points of interest, from which numerous hikes and trekking routes depart, fall within the Taburno Camposauro Regional Park. This is a protected area affecting 14 municipalities: Bonea, Bucciano, Cautano, Frasso Telesino, Moiano, Sant’Agata dei Goti, Solopaca, Tocco Caudio, Vitulano, Melizzano, Montesarchio, Phoglianise, Paupisi, and Torrecuso.

 The massif, which culminates in the peaks of Taburno (m. 1394), Camposauro (m. 1388) and Pentime (m. 1170), rises with very steep slopes from the Valle del Calore, or Valle Telesina, to the north, which separates it from the Matese, and from the Valle Caudina to the south, which separates it from the Partenio, while to the east and west it slopes more gently toward two minor watercourses, the Jenga and Isclero.

Created for the protection of the Taburno-Camposauro massif, which is part of the Campanian Apennines, the park offers valuable natural and scenic resources in a context of considerable historical, cultural and traditional interest. Seen from the eastern side, the profile of the massif resembles that of a woman lying down-this is why it is also called the Sleeping Woman of Sannio.

The landscape of the massif is as varied as it is fascinating. A succession of historic centers, hamlets, farmhouses, ancient hermitages and shrines accompanies the visitor throughout. The low-lying areas are almost all cultivated, forming a spectacular mosaic that completely encircles the massif with vineyards, olive groves, orchards, and vegetable gardens, bearing witness to the presence of man since time immemorial. As one climbs, the crops give way to extensive forests of oak, chestnut and beech trees with a highly prized presence of white firs in the Taburno State Forest, of Bourbon origin, protected for more than a century and a half to protect the Fizzo springs that feed the aqueduct of the Royal Palace of Caserta.

Higher up, imposing rock walls connote the wilderness of the massif: they are the realm of birds of prey that take advantage of the ascending air currents that form in front of them.

Finally, the stupendous karst plains of Camposauro, Trellica, Cepino and Melaino, green oases of tranquility surrounded by forests, which perform the very important function of collecting meteoric waters and conveying them into the complex underground hydrogeological system, until they gush out, abundant and purified, at the base of the massif. And these are the real resources that the Park Authority, as manager, protects and promotes: the waters, fed into the most important regional water networks; the crops; the rare animal and plant species that find refuge and food in the woods and meadows; the traditions, customs and local culture, often threatened with extinction on a par with species and habitats; and the paths, traced and traveled by necessity since prehistoric times, now transformed into evocative invitations to trekking.

The route continues in the Matese Regional Park, whose territory falls between the provinces of Benevento and Caserta and coincides with the Campania side of the Matese chain. The Park represents the link between Campania and Molise, two very different regions, but it is also the meeting point between two different geological worlds: that of limestone and that of clay. The geological history of these soils is evidenced by the now-famous finds of a baby dinosaur, Scipionyx samniticus, nicknamed “Cyrus,” the world-famous baby dinosaur.

The municipalities in the province of Benevento that fall within the park are: Cerreto Sannita, Cusano Mutri, Faicchio, Pietraroja, and San Lorenzello.

The Matese regional park hosts areas of high naturalistic value.

Peculiarities of the park are the lakes: the Matese at 1,000 meters, the highest in Italy, the Gallo and Letino, which are mostly used for electricity. River valleys and canyons, such as the Forra dell’Inferno, the Gola di Caccaviola, the Forre di Lavello, and the great canyon of Pesco Rosso, are places of exploration and adventure, as well as a true paradise for geomorphologists.

The Matese Park is a hiker’s and sportsman’s paradise: mountain biking, trekking, grass and alpine skiing, hang gliding, as well as horseback riding and caving excursions.

Finally, the itinerary ends in the Upper Tammaro Valley, which touches the towns of Campolattaro, Casalduni, Castelpagano, Circello, Colle Sannita, Fragneto L’Abate, Fragneto Monforte, Morcone, Reino, Santa Croce del Sannio and finally, Sassinoro. The entire area is considered a natural gateway to the Matese regional park and the Taburno-Camposauro park. The route traced, offers a pleasant journey through nature to discover the fascinating past of the municipalities involved, which preserve the medieval features of their origin. The landscape is characterized by low mountains, numerous fields of wheat and tobacco, and woods of turkey oaks and downy oaks; the characteristic towns, distant from each other. Agriculture still remains a pivotal element of the local economy, numerous cultivations of cereals and tobacco, olive trees, vines and fruit and vegetable crops.

There are numerous practicable environmental trails departing from Morcone that wind through a varied and fascinating landscape rich in history and naturalness. The territory of Morcone is crossed for more than 5 km. by the royal Tratturo Pescasseroli-Candela and by numerous tratturelli. These routes, used by shepherds in transhumance, today constitute interesting nature trails that encounter on their path fountains, drinking troughs, remains of dry stone walls that showed the flocks the way, country churches, the cave of the nun, Spino Lake (karst lake), mills and small waterfalls. The territory includes the WWF reserve of Lake Campolattaro, a SPA (special protection area) aimed at maintaining habitats suitable for the conservation of migratory wild birds; a SCI (site of community interest) area that protects the conservation of natural and semi-natural habitats of flora and fauna.

Within the nature area there is a visitor center (with picnic area) equipped to welcome visitors who want to spend pleasant moments of relaxation.

Various fun hobbies can be pursued near the lake: birdwatching, trekking, Nordic walking and canoeing, by the Campolattaro Canoe-Sailing Association, which practices its activities on the stretch of the river downstream of the dam and only exceptionally on the waters of the reservoir.