16 Aug,2017 By jagabond
Last summer I wrote about my favorite European small towns, and if I did that article today Castelmezzano would definitely make the cut. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I will start by posting day and night shots.
Yeah…it’s really that nice. I love surreal views like this, where you get chills and quickly reflect on how lucky you are to be traveling. A town built into a mountainside? Settlers thought this was good defensive posture, with the idea of rolling boulders down from the town at invaders. Castelmezzano has gained fame from adventure travel enthusiasts for its rock-climbing, and especially for the Il Volo Dell’Angelo, or ‘Flight of the Angels’. This involves zip-lining from Castelmezzano to the neighboring town, Pietrapertosa, while enjoying the mountain views below.
Because Il Volo Dell’Angelo is only available from June through September, the only other way to get to Pietrapertosa is by hiking. Le Sette Pietre is a two-mile trail that translates to the hike of the seven stones. Although two miles doesn’t sound like a lot, starting the hike in Castelmezzano leads to steep, uphill trudging for 75% of the time. As if in a Tolkien novel, you pass the seven stones along the way, which are manmade rock formations with a magic/occult theme. I listed the names of the stones, and added quotes for dramatic effect.
Delirium – “The most wonderful thing in life is to be delirious and the most wonderful kind of delirium is being in love.”
Dancing – “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”
Flying – “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.”
Cave of the Witches – “A woman that you find different or strange, or whom you may envy or covet is deemed by you all to be a witch!”
Sorcery – “I will give you my days… but, my dear sorceress, your nights are mine.”
Enchantment – “Love is the enchanted dawn of every heart.”
Destiny – “Many of us are destined to be alone, while most of us sentence ourselves to it.”
If you visit off-season, the trail will likely be bereft of people, allowing you to be alone in your thoughts and the serenity of the countryside. The views were outstanding, with the final view being Pietrapertosa, signaling the end of the quest for the seven stones.
I’ve been to a few mountain towns, and one prevailing characteristic is their love for animals. Maybe their use of horses and goats in agriculture gives them a different perspective. There is nothing like seeing happy and content animals, and I especially loved the husky with the Gene Simmons tongue! Does the cat realize what an amazing view she’s lounging in front of?
How to get there: Castelmezzano is approximately a two hour drive from Naples. The closest major city is Potenza.
Where to eat: Trattoria Al Vecchio Scarpone was a lovely way to experience the local cuisine. Friendly waiters kept the antipasto plate endlessly refilled, and the homemade pasta with sausage was uniquely awesome.
Where to stay: Casa del Mago, advertised as ‘once the home of a magician’, is the finest accommodation in Castelmezzano. It’s basically a stone house with modern facilities, a nice blend of time periods. Pierfrancesco and Daniela are outstanding hosts!