Monte Accellica Climb
Detailed Trip Report and Guide - Friday, May 10
On these pages you'll find a more detailed description and accounting of my climb up Monte Accellica in the Picentini mountains south of Avellino, Italy. I did this climb/hike while visiting my relatives in May of 2019.
The Picentini mountains are a sub-range of the Appenine Mountain range. There are a number of peaks here in the 1500m-1800m elevation range (5000-6000 feet), formed mostly of dolomite or limestone. The peaks of these mountains are just high enough in most cases to sport a little bit of open alpine terrain. Below the summits, the peaks are mostly clad in various hardwood forests, with species such as oaks and chestnuts being common.
Monte Accellica is not one of the higher peaks in the range - being 1660m / 5450ft - but it has an interesting topography. It has two prominent highpoints - Monte Accellica Sud and Monte Accellica Nord - both almost the same height, and separated by a deep rugged notch. There is an attractive trail setup that allows one to do a looping traverse over most of the mountain's ridgecrest - AND.... the part of the route between the two peaks is actually a ferrata, which makes it even more challenging and interesting.
The loop route described in this report starts southwest of the peak - in an area of maintained chestnut tree groves. To get to the trailhead, first drive to the town of Serino, then take the SP574 southeast out of the town. At the first big hairpin bend, there's a small backroad with a multitude of signs. Take this backroad.
From there, a network of non-obvious backroads that lead to these various groves (as well as some small tourist parks and a few residences). You have to know where to go, but if you look at the geo-tagged map and picture points associated with this trip route, you'll generally see which backroads to take and what junctions to turn at.
In summary, though, you need to get to and drive past a recreational area called "Parco Vaccarezza", then continue on to a cluster of farmhouse buildings called "Casa Rocchi" (there is a "Casa Rocchi" sign opposite the buildings but the sign might not be immediately obvious). In any case, you do not stop at Casa Rocchi. Instead, continue a bit farther on a broken-up but still driveable old forest road until you start seeing "trail 106" signs. Then find a suitable pull-off area to park, and start walking.
A side note: if you are going to be doing the ferrata section described in this report, you should use the proper gear (helmet, harness, ferrata belay device, auto-locking carabiners, gloves).
First good trailhead sign
As you start walking, the main thing is to locate/verify is that you are on (a) Trail 106, and (b) heading in the direction of 'Varco del Pistone'. The first part of the walk is straightforward - along an old forest road. There's a nice fountain thing along the way if you want to tank up on water. It will be obvious when you come to the Varco del Pistone, for there will be a very distinctive notch cut into some very whitish bedrock.
Next, you walk through the white rock cut, and then immediately start looking up the forested slope on your left for the faintly tracked and faintly signed trail 190. Look for red/white trail markers that are mostly on trees.
Once located, start following very faint indications of foot traffic and looking for the next red/white blaze to ensure you remain on 190. You are essentially heading uphill and are on the southwestern ridgecrest of Accellica.
In places the lightly-used trail is obvious, and in others you really have to pay attention for trail blazes and indications of foot traffic. There are many places where faint animal herd paths can look like the trail, and lead you astray. However, the knowledge that you are basically staying on the ridgecrest keeps your search fairly bounded.
It isn't too long before some occasional crags and lookouts start to provide views.... however, on the morning I did this climb, it was mostly socked in, so I didn't get to see much.
The forest understory is fairly light, so there isn't much brushiness to contend with - just steep grassy slopes and an occasional bit of cragginess, where there is a tiny bit of easy scrambling. There is one narrow crack between sections of bedrock called the "narrows of paradise" where you'll likely have to take your pack off and struggle through. Above that is a very nice open-air crag where you can get your first real wide-ranging look at the landscape.
Above the "paradise" lookout, the ridgeline doesn't gain altitude quite so much, and you start to climb down and up over some bumps. In one place there is a very steep grassy descent between bumps that is protected by a bit of wire.
In general the ridge along this section becomes a bit craggy and has a fairly steep dropoff the southern side. Trail 190 either stays on the crest or dips slightly down into the trees just north of the crest.
Sun struggling to get through
As you approach the summit, the ridgecrest becomes less sharp and less open. The trail angles away from the crest and onto the upper part of the mountain's northern slopes, passing through a stretch of open forest. The trail is still lightly travelled here but is more obvious than in other places lower on the ridgeline.
The last few hundred metres to the summit are on open ridgecrest, with the summit cross clearly in view ahead. When you arrive, you are standing on Accellica Nord, the highest of the mountain's twin summits.