The Pilgrims’ Path is the ancient link between the village of Cerchiara di Calabria and the Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Armi. Walking through it means immersing yourself in the history and tradition of one of the oldest villages of Pollino Orientale. Before leaving, in the alleys of the village you can smell the scent of freshly baked hot bread. Along the way you can see the pavement and the stone steps of a street more than 300 years old.
The path, particularly pleasant in spring, crosses a dense oak forest, a tree symbol of Cerchiara. The breadth of views on the Ionian coast is a pleasure for the eyes and the soul. Complete the experience the visit, upon arrival, the ancient Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Armi, wrapped between history and legend on Mount Sellaro.
The route is so called because on April 25, 1846, following a very long period of drought, the citizens of Cerchiara went on pilgrimage to the Sanctuary to ask Our Lady for the grace of water. As soon as they arrived, it started raining for three days and nights. The crops were safe. Since that day, every year, on April 25, the faithful retrace this path to renew their devotion to Our Lady.
To return to the starting point, follow the same route, taking about 2 hours.
- Technical description: No special technical difficulties. The route is marked by CAI flags and is in good condition.
- Technical advice: Recommended use of hiking poles.
- Where to park: Large car park in the upper part of the village of Cerchiara, in Piazza Fontana Vecchia, in front of the Carabinieri barracks. The route starts two hundred meters upstream.
Santa Maria delle Armi and Cerchiara di Calabria, la città del pane
Immersed in the Pollino National Park, Cerchiara di Calabria hosts in its territory the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Armi, of which was found a stone slab with the image acheropita (“not painted by human hand”)
Cerchiara, famous for the production of traditional bread, you can visit the Museum of Bread, in which are preserved various tools, machinery and grinders of the past rurality. Near the ruins of the medieval Castle, in the steep walls of the Caldanello Gorge, you can access the first via ferrata of the South, called “Ferrata della Gravina” or “Ferrata del Caldanello”, a destination increasingly frequented by climbers and enthusiasts.
Just outside the town there is the Cave of the Nymphs, perhaps the same mentioned by Homer, that is an ancient source of sulphurous water that forms therapeutic mud and flows today into a thermal pool.
Those who love good food can not appreciate the traditional one of the place; typical dishes such as tiedda ‘and artichokes servaggi and the kid oregano can be enjoyed in the farmhouses located at the gates of Cerchiara. Among the typical dishes: grandma’s lamb (lamb with mushrooms); oregano kid; anchovy salad; “lagane dell’ascensione” (fettuccine served as a soup with salted milk); basil sauce; “tiella and artichokes servaggi” (plate of wild artichokes); zeppole; almond crunchy.
In addition, mud with therapeutic properties is formed here. For those who love to exercise, we suggest the wild Gorges of Raganello where you can go trekking against the backdrop of a spectacular environment. The area allows many speleo-trekking routes through the path that reaches the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Armi.
Cover Image: Tasting the World