Melfa Gorges near Casalvieri Italy © Antonio Iacobelli

photo © Antonio Iacobelli

The Melfa Gorges and the Road Il Tracciolino

Near to Casalvieri the course of the River Melfa enters a narrow valley between the mountains and a series of rugged gorges, known as Le Gole di Melfa.  Along its way (14 kilometres) the river flows through the territory of six municipalities: Casalvieri, Casalattico, Colle San Magno, Santopadre, Arpino and Roccasecca. Over thousands of years the river has cut its way through the valley and carved and moulded the rocks into curious shapes.

Since ancient times there has always been a route through the valley connecting the Val di Comino with the Valle di Liri. Now a narrow paved road exists named Il Tracciolino.

The landscape is wild, unspoiled and ever changing, composed of woods, steep cliffs, waterfalls, rapids, caves and hermitages. The area is rich in both fauna and flora. Indeed this area has been included in the European Community list of the most important natural sites for the presence of birds of prey, roe deer, wolves and butterflies.

It is also a wonderful terrain for enthusiasts of mountain biking, cycling, trekking, climbing, canyoning and canoeing.

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The Hermitage of Spirito Santo

Approaching Roccaseca there is the Hermitage of Spirito Santo which dates back to before the year 1000. Originally it was built within a natural cave which was later adapted to create several cells for monks for spiritual retreat. The lack of water and the distance from the river forced the monks to create an ingenious system for collecting rainwater, and conveying it through channels that they carved into the rock that lead to a water cistern.

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