A spectacular itinerary to cover in several days, according to the participants' capabilities, that crosses a wide area of the Lower and Middle Nera Valley.
The itinerary crosses part of the valley floor through the Eastern side mountain area, along wonderful side valleys of the River Nera, going down towards the starting point along the Western side mild hills.
The departure is at the Marmore Waterfall; from there, go upstream in the direction of Castel di Lago. Here take the unpaved steeper path leading to Madonna dello Scoglio and to Forca di Arrone.
Take the paved road on the right towards the crossroad to Buonacquisto. Here the road, first paved and then unpaved, goes up to the mountain area of Polino.
The hilly itinerary continues towards Salto del Cieco. From here, on an unpaved road flanking the gorge of the stream Fosso del Castellone together with the villages Castellonalto and Castellonbasso, it leads to the crossroad to Colleolivo.
The itinerary gets steeper and goes up towards the Fountain “del Trocco”, along an unpaved and in some parts damaged road, that crosses the steep western side of the massif of Mount Aspra and leads to the Malpana Valley and Il Pago Le Fosse.
This part of the itinerary (probably the most difficult, technically speaking) offers beautiful views on the San Pietro in Valle Abbey along with its Middle -Nera Valley defensive system made of towers and fortresses.
Once you have crossed the sides of pago Le Fosse, you arrive in the village Monte San Vito and from here go down on an paved road up to Ceselli.
Here the paved road enters a side valley of the Nera River and goes up along a small stream. After the village of Pontuglia, go up again up to Le Cese and to Forca of Mount Solenne.
The Marmore Waterfall was made after the opening of the so-called 'Curiano channel' in 271 b.C. by the Roman consul Manio Curio Dentato.
This emissary had the function to free the Rieti plain from the swampy waters of the River Velino.
Across the centuries these waters caused calcium carbonate deposits that helped the formation of the travertine slope of Marmore, which is a natural barrier obstructing the water flow of Rieti lake into the Nera Valley.
Since mid-19h century the fall of the waterfall has been used to produce water power. It is for this reason that the waters of the waterfall are 'open' or 'closed' in specific times by means of a dike in Marmore opening or closing, according to the production programme of the power plant.
The waterfall has three falls with a difference in height of 165 mt. The main fall (80 mt) ends up in the first big basin. Here the River Velino waters continue their flow into the River Nera jumping two more times, among dozens rivulets and basins. The flora of waterfall is particularly lush: ferns, mosses, singular willows and several species of poplars. The forest covering the calcareous terraces is composed mainly by black hornbeams, maples, manna ashes, figs, ailanthuses and, in the driest parts, by olm oaks and Aleppo pines.
The waterfall area can be discovered following the 5 paths winding among the ever changing water, the basins and the little streams surrounding the slope.
The fortress of the little hill lies on a rock in a panoramic position over one hundred meters of height with regard to the underlying valley. It is thought that the name derives from an ancient lake. The old town was built between the 13th and 14th c. on a former hermitage area.
The medieval town still preserves its original outlook with its tiny streets and a round path offering splendid views of Arrone and of the whole area of the Nera Valley belonging to the district of Terni.
The sanctuary Madonna dello Scoglio rises up in a panoramic location against a rock wall, having the name of the hermitage. The sanctuary consists of a former sacristy and a small church, where the fresco Madonna con Bambino (“Mary with Child”) is venerated. Proof of the faith of the numerous worshippers across the centuries can be seen with the vast amount of votive offerings. During the summer the hermitage is the ending point of a traditional procession. Madonna dello Scoglio is also a crossing point for many mountain bike itineraries.
The small village is located on the top of the valley between Piediluco Lake and the mountain of Polino.
The tiny streets winding across the old town recall the former presence of a medieval fortress. In the area of Buonacquisto we can still find some abandoned lignite coal mines used between 1918 and 1958. There is a path starting from the village that allows one to visit the mining park, the worker's accommodations and the access to the old mine.
This calm mountain area is characterised by wide clearings and thick beech tree forests along the southern sides of Mount Aspra.
Its name derives from a legend narrating the story of a bandit that, pretending to be blind, used to rob the people passing by and then threw them down to the gorge of the stream Fosso del Castellone. The place lies near “la Dogana” (“meaning “Customs”), where the travellers had to pay a tax to cross the border between the Papal State and the Kingdom of Naples.
Built in a strategic position on the top of a mountain, Castellonalto had a control function being at the crossroad between the Papal State and the Kingdom of Naples. Near the nice fountain stands the 16th century San Giovanni Evangelista's Church with its bell gable and its 16th century valuable frescoes.
The 16th century Sant'Andrea's Church stands next to the cemetery.
Along the paved road leading to Salto del Cieco one can enjoy the evocative views over the mountain rock walls, where abandoned eagle's nests are still visible, as well as the views over old hermitages, like Sant'Egidio and La Romitoria.
Castellonbasso is situated along the right bank of the stream Fosso del Castellone. The valley of the same name is probably the most interesting area of the River Nera Park for its nature. The little village lies just above the paved road; San Pietro's church built in 1649 and a watermill still used today as oil mill are worth a visit.
The little village of Colle Olivo lies halfway up the right side of the stream Fosso del Castellone; it is surrounded by little stone walls terracings cultivated with olive trees.
Near the perfectly refurbished tiny village one can enjoy the breathtaking view over the narrow gorge of the stream Fosso del Castellone, as well as over the surrounding mountains dominated by Mount Aspra.
This 12th century village was built at 926 mt AMSL in a strategic position overlooking the Nera Valley.
It has a customs area where travellers used to pay a tax to cross the border, as this lies on the former road leading to the Kingdom of Naples.
The village offers breathtaking views both on the mountains of the Nera Valley (Terni side) and on the deep valley of the River Nera.
In the centre of the village there is an old drinking trough, which is still used today, and San Michele Arcangelo's Church from the 13th c.
Outside the village there is Santa Maria's Church from the 16th century hosting a fresco inside: Madonna del Rosario (“Our Lady of the Rosary”) from 1630.
From Monte San Vito it is possible to take the old mountain road leading to Gavelli and Monteleone di Spoleto, across the beech trees of the Campofoglio Valley.
The village lies at the entrance of the valley of the stream Fosso delle Cese.
The hillside village was built between the 12th and the 14th century near a previous settlement. The strategic position of the town allowed the inhabitants to guard the major roads of the valley, together with the roads leading to Spoleto (passing by the stream Le Cese) and to Monteleone di Spoleto (passing by the villages of Civitella and Monte San Vito).
In the highest part of the village there is San Michele Arcangelo's Church from the 16th century, which was refurbished in the 19th century. Inside: San Vito incoronato dagli angeli (“St. Vito crowned by Angels”), a canvas from 1644; Madonna con Bambino (“Our lady with Child”), from 1625 and Crocifissione e santi (“Crucifixion and Saints”), from 1603.
This rural settlement has a triangular shape and was built in the 14th century near some sources, whose waters were used for the functioning of a mill from the 15th century. On the square of the village there is a big basin powering the four turbines used to activate the mill stones.
The mill still has mill stones and other tools used for the production process. Some of them date back to the 17th century.
It is a small medieval village lying on the western side of Mount Fionchi, over the stream Fosso delle Cese. The traditional houses of the village were built against the old fortress and have cowsheds downstairs. On the road flanking the village there is both a fountain and a little church.
It is a small rural village built below the village San Mamiliano on a sunny hill surrounded by oaks and olive trees. It dominates the slopes of Mount Solenne, the village of Gabbio and the town of Ferentillo.
This old hillside medieval town characterised by a strong fortification structure had a vital defensive role in the area, specifically during the Saracenic invasions in the 9th century. San Mamiliano boasts the 14th century San Biagio's church having in its inside an important masterpiece by Jacopo Siculo (1538) and a wooden statue representing St. John. In the little square named after the painter there is a well on which the emblem of Ferentillo was sculpted in 1005. The Village recently came into the limelight for the 'treasure' the Templar Knights hid both in the village and in San Giovanni's Monastery.
Set on a panoramic position, it is the only village of the valley from where the highest fall of the Marmore Waterfall (from the door Porta Ternana) can be admired.
The village was built under the willingness of Spoleto. It underwent the dominations of several noble families and its name derives from one of these families (Pietrangelo Orsini) in 1441.
The old town still preserves a medieval structure with noble palaces built between the 15th and the 19th century. There is the central-plant San Rocco's Church hosting paintings from the 16th and 17th century.
Aurelio De Felice, one of the major artists of the 19th century, was born and later died here. He was a sculptor, a painter and an internationally renowned poet. Near his home there is a park named after him: a nice garden overlooking the Nera Valley (Terni side), where there are the copies of some famous sculptures of De Felice (from the period 1949-1974), together with a fountain designed by him.
Collestatte stands on a hill along the right bank of the Nera River and dominates the valley of the Nera River Valley (Terni side). The village has a medieval structure with narrow streets, arches, stairways and one pedestrian gallery in the southern-eastern side perimetral wall. In the main square there is San Pietro's Church, which has been renovated in the 19th century. Inside: Pala d’altare (“Altarpiece”) from 1543 with the Orsini Family's coat of arms, who governed the town from mid-15th century to the beginning of the 18th century. In the village there are also some noble palaces used as summer residence by rich families from Terni.