Stage 3 : Vatolla / Cicerale
From Vatolla, the third stage proceeds to Mercato Cilento; from here, by a long dirt road that starts from the Convento del Carmine, you get to Rocca Cilento, dominated by the Angevin-Aragon fortress. Then you go down to Torchiara, beautiful center located on a scenic ridge. Continue on SS18 until, before reaching Ogliastro Cilento, a small road on the right will lead you to the village of Finocchito, then in Monte Cicerale, and finally Cicerale.
Mercato Cilento in the Middle Ages was the point of convergence of the main roads have the territory of Monte Stella and became a place of trade following the construction of a church in the fifteenth century, probably built in 1472 by the Carmelites along with their convent, leaning against the side church.
The dirt road uphill to the side of the convent of Mount Carmel is the first part of an interesting path that follows the ridge, with views of both inward land and toward the sea. The road skirts the thick woods of the Forest of San Francesco and finally reaches in view of the spectacular castle, which is linked to the name of the underlying village of Rocca Cilento. The first information on this site can be found in a manuscript of the year 1110. There, the decision of William Sanseverino to move the seat of the Barony of Cilento from the fortress on the top of Mount Stella to Rocca Cilento, is described. The castle is one of the most characteristic monuments in the landscape of Cilento, set atop a hill at 635 m above sea level. Its present appearance is the result of many alterations that have practically erased the Norman structures, with the lowering of the towers and opening windows.
Leaving Rocca Cilento on the road you will pass by the old Convent of San Francesco, founded in 1417 by St. Bernard of Siena with the help of some noble families of the place. The structure was expanded at the beginning of 1565 and in 1640 it became the novitiate house and that remained until 1727.
From Torchiara, whose name derives from the Latin Turris Clara, in reference to one of the towers in the area founded by the Lombards, The Silent Way continue for 3.5 km on SS18, until a panoramic road on the right takes you to the tiny village of Finocchito. Stop and rest on the square outside the church, where silence reigns.
After Finocchito, continue in the direction of Cicerale. The first news about Cicerale find themselves on a document dated 1461. The origin of the name comes from the Latin expression Terra quae cicera alit, meaning “land that feeds the chickpeas.” To protect the quality of this product, since 2009 the association “Ciceralit” was created. It produced the product specifications of the local chickpeas. The country celebrates the legume with a festival in the second half of August.
This third leg touches the largest reservoir of the entire territory of Cilento and Vallo di Diano: The Alento Dam. Around the dam, the Oasis Alento River is built. It extends for 3024 hectares and it is the ideal place for birdwatchers. In the numerous lakes downstream of the reservoir in fact, you can see species such as Mallard, the Great Crested Grebe, Teal, Grey Heron or the rare Kingfisher. In the waters of the River Alento that here continues its run toward the mouth, the European otter has also been spotted several times. In the oasis you can rest: it offers food and lodging to the visitor who wants to stay for a few days. To visit the Oasis, go past Mercato Cilento, Rocca Cilento, and Torchiara. Head for Prignano Cilento on SP113 continuing on until you reaches the cradle. You can then go to Cicerale facing one of the toughest climbs of the entire route. The visit to the dam is not mandatory, nor indicated in our roadbook.