The route begins in the old part of Torchiara known as 'SOPRANA'. An itinerary for more than 7 miles through the local flora, architecture and traditions of the Cilento. Through locations that appear abandoned by the time, in an unspoilt area that allows one to enjoy the spectacular views and landscapes.
Walking a long the path that runs near the walls of the municipal gardens, you will reach the Palazzo Pavone, an elegant building of the late XVIII century. A wide doorway leads through into a garden where stands the oldest wing of the palace which features a lateral portal of entry, which leads to the characteristic inner courtyard, which bears a 1785 construction date plate). The building, over the centuries, has been home of this 'historical Pavone family' of Torchiara. Its importance is now symbolized by coats of arms "Li Pavoni", also present on the some of the oldest houses of the town, which belonged to the same family.
The Portals of Torchiara
In the main square lies the XIX century Torre family mansion, which features a tower has become an icon-symbol of Torchiara. In the nearby, the house where the patriot Giambattista Riccio lived, with a sweeping open staircase topped by arches, a characteristic of most XVI-XVIII century buildings in the area. Through the narrow streets of the Old Town, which winds along the hill, cross the old town is characterized by compact building fabric of 'townhouses' , which create the old medieval plan. Here the morphological configurations and the climatic factors have given the way to the construction of typical architectural elements. The non plastered - stone walls emphasize the desire to disguise the houses with the landscape and nature. The terracotta tiles offer shelter from winds and sudden gusts of rain in a climate generally mild. The elegant stone doorways were modeled, even for the pleasure of the eyes, by skilled hands of the local stonecutters of which some are decorated with elegant rosettes or animal figures, such as the Bilotti Palace.
The Church of S.S. Salvatore
Situated on a hill, which offers a splendid view overlooking the Gulf of Paestum and Agropoli, the Church has ancient origins, already documented in a deed signed in 1100 between Alfano, 'Bishop of Pesto', and the Abate Pietro. Although the structure has been altered over the centuries, it is interesting to note the original stronghold structure which seems similar to a watchtower. It was restored after the earthquake of 6 December 1857 and underwent further renovation in 1970 during the earthquake of 1980 it was seriously damaged again. The building features one major nave and two aisles. The central one has a modern painted ceiling, whilst the aisles propose niches decorated with stucco work and wooden and plaster statues of the XVII and XVIII centuries. Among these an altar, a wooden statue carved and painted, dated from the late XVII century, depicting the SS Salvatore. Located on the right side an XVIII century statue of St. Joseph and the bust of San Francesco di Paola, whilst on the left side of the statue of Mary Immaculate and the bust of San Biagio, all attributable to the XVIII century.
The pathway towards San Bernardino is like taking a step into what once was and still is ONLY TRADITION, a rural area track between natural vegetation and woods. The panorama slides down to the valley, between intensely cultivated vineyards, before reaching the town of Laureana. The path (640 meters long) is basically on flatland with the exception of a few short steep sections, in particular before and after the Church Madonna delle Grazie.
Towards Torchiara SOTTANA
If you forward towards 'Torchiara Sottana' you will meet the small church of the Madonna delle Grazie, on whose façade there is a niche that must have contained a sacred image. Continuing you will reach the church of San Bernardino, which was built during the early spreading of Christianity in the Cilento. The church is a minor example of religious architecture, the small church has a nave, with two small altar and side altars. On the main altar it is possible to admire a copy of the panel, attributed to the Mannerist Neapolitan Decio Tramontano, depicts the Redeemer between St. Bernardino and Antonio Abate and shows the inscription 'Vin (cent) Mormanus jus ... ctoris Minimus ... mignus hoc opus Abbas Stepanus Ritius ac honorabilis Silvius Gaiardus Rectores curaverunt: Sub 15 die mensis Augusti 1560 ', whilst the original is now on display at the Diocesan Museum of Vallo della Lucania.
If you decide to take the deviation that leads to the Tower Mangone (approx. 500 metres), you go through an area with a panorama with no equal between olive trees that produce a special DOP protected olive oil.
A brief detour from the main path that leads to the village of Copersito, on a track flanked by fields, you will reach one of the most emblematic buildings of Torchiara, the Tower Mangone, a building of the late XVIII century, which has the typical structure of a fortress with the two corner towers characterized by numerous openings. A typical building of the area with a series of staircases, large rooms and access to the fortified towers built to protect the villages below. Originally it was used as a observation point to follow from afar the work of the peasants in the fields.
Once you are back on the main path, if you continue between the old farmhouses and fields, after approx. 485 meters, between fig and olive trees you will be in front of the imposing Baronial Palace De Conciliis.
Baronial palace de Conciliis
On the road, before reaching this baronial palace, you will meet Palazzo Riccio, built in the late '700. It is a typical building in 'style Cilento' and the façade is adorned with a portal stone and a wrought iron balcony. An elegant dovecot gives the building the appearance of 'turreted house' but softened by a large garden with orange and olive trees. We then come to the palace of the Barons de Conciliis, who were the lords of this district between the XVI century and the subversion of feudalism. The building, according to the needs of the feud, was built halfway between the village of Copersito and Torchiara, to ensure a similar control over both locations. Its strategic location also allowed it to control the historical road that connected the valley to Laureana, and at the same Torchiara with Ogliastro Cilento. The palace of the XVI century, is characterized by two towers of different height and shape: one square and one circular (the second one was once used as a prison). It is accessible through an elegant arched portal that leads to the hallway and courtyard. Next to the palace, there is a chapel of the Annunciation, where at the time, Mass for 'exclusive devotion of the Baron' would be celebrated. In front of the palace, and next to the tower of the prison, the chapel of the Madonna delle Grazie, once reserved for festive celebrations and the 'devotion of the Baroness'.
Back on the main path after approx. 955 meters, you will reach Copersito, famous for its historical building and beauty.
Copersito and its buildings
The village of Copersito takes its name from 'cupressetum'. The first mention dates back to 1100 in a document for the definition of boundaries between the Bishop of Pesto and the one of Cava. Cited still in a dispute of 1110 and a sale of 1114, it has been in possession of various feudal lords. In 1327 it belonged to Nicholas Benincasa Rutino, who later returned the town to the territory of Sanseverino and since then it followed the events and fate of Torchiara.
Palazzo De Vita
An elegant aristocratic palace, typical of the Cilento, with a square or rectangular courtyard with rooms arranged along the sides. The Palazzo De Vita belonged to this family, inhabitants in Copersito already in 1400. Interesting are the two stone portals, one of which is crowned by the ancient family crest. The building, which also includes the chapel was donated to the local Parish and is now home for the elderly. The chapel, dedicated to St. Joseph, has been completely transformed over time. The stone façade has two brick pilasters and a pediment, the interior painted with a coffered ceiling features also a choir of painted wood. The floor tiles that surround the altar reproduces the original design of the XVIII century.
Continuing the ancient Parish Church dedicated to Saint Barbara, patron Saint of Copersito, which today features a modern and fully renovated structure.
Palazzo De Feo
An Imposing stone building that overlooks the whole valley. Built in the second half of the XIX century, it is surrounded by a lush park with a beautiful view overlooking the Gulf of Agropoli. The palace was built by Salvatore De Feo for his young wife. It also belonged to the family Galano, who received it as a dowry.
It was originally owned by the family Galano. An elegant building, mentioned in an act of purchase of 1720, it features a pattern on the façade of smooth pilasters in the first line and grooved in the second one. Inside a modern staircase that brings to the rooms on the first floor, whilst the original staircase leads to the second floor to the oratory of the family, with a marble altar on which is placed a painting of the Annunciation, framed with stucco decorations of cherubs supporting a flowering tree branch, which is described in detail in some documents of the pastoral visit of 1875. The floor of Vietri ceramics, typical of the area, is due to the fact that the family Galano were originally born in Vietri sul Mare. At the center of the floor there is an inscription 'a devotion to Emanuele Galano AD 1847 '.
Palazzo Mangone and its dovecot
The palace and the chapel across the street, belong to the family Mangone, since the XVII century. The building, which presents a typical 'palaces house' feature with an internal courtyard, offers an elegant façade: the balcony with its marble busts and wide windows on the upper floor overlooking the valley. In the garden there is a famous carrier pigeon dovecot tower. The building is flanked private family oratory dedicated to Our Lady of Grace. The chapel, already mentioned in the pastoral visits of 1771 and 1875, was rebuilt in 1893 by Lorenzo Mangoni, as recalled by a plaque beside the front door. Its interior is richly decorated, the ceiling is adorned with a painting of the Madonna delle Grazie.
Maybe worth a short detour along the way to the Borgo of San Teodoro with its olive trees and ancient water tank to retain rainwater.
Among the fields towards Santa Maria dell'Acqua Santa
With a detour along the ancient road that led to Copersito Laureana, you can reach Santa Maria dell'Acqua Santa, a small shrine entitled to the cult of ancient tradition that dates back to the martyrdom of some virgins converted by St. Paul during his preaching in these areas. Restored at the end of the XIX century, the church was opened and consecrated in 1881. Its Neoclassical façade, which preserves the carved stone portal (1667), is flanked by a small bell tower looking XVII century. Inside it preserves a font in marble, carved by the same craftsman who built it in 1650 to cover the plate well. The Altar is embellished by a painting of the '700, embedded in a stucco decoration, depicts the Madonna and Child with Saint Joseph and Saint Lucia. Of interest is also the XVIII century coffered ceiling of painted wood with octagonal and rectangular motifs.
Same way back, across the fields, returning to the starting point between fig and olive trees and going past the old washing house.