Rosary Walk part 2

Rosary Walk Rocky path

Leaving the bridge behind Padre Pio and his family would turn left and knew they were in for a climb up a rocky slope. I must admit, this section, although only about 100 meters long, is a bit of a challenge for the ‘over 60’s’. Still it is not so bad and we have done it many, many times.

When the hill flattens out he would come to the farmhouse belonging to the Frangioso family. Perhaps he stopped and said “Buongiorno” or “Buona sera”. He might even have stopped for a friendly chat or said a quick prayer with them. 

Whatever the significance, the last owner of the house who lived in America, left it to the town in her will and it is preserved and looked after by the Commune in Pietrelcina.

Front of houseSince we are now in the 21st century, we can use an image from Google maps, to show the two routes you can take when you reach the stone farmhouse. You can keep going straight on the rough path or you can take a temporary diversion by entering into the paved area in front of the house. This will take you back to the Rosary Walk in 50 meters by a more manageable route.

Rosary Walk Top alternate pathEither way, you will soon pass some farmhouses and all the rough ground will be behind you.  The shady, closed views of the path will now open up into wide vistas of farmland and vines

You will now be able to travel along well maintained roads and, like Padre Pio before you, you have now reached the plain of Piana Romana

The roads here are well signposted and it is about a 15 minute walk to reach the shrine

You will now be able to travel along well maintained roads and, like Padre Pio before you, you have now reached the plain of Piana Romana

The roads here are well signposted and it is about a 15 minute walk to reach the shrine

You have arrived. This is where it all began.
Deo Gratias

Video made in 2010 from a collection of photos

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The Rosary Walk Bridge

The new Rosary Walk Bridge

This is the bridge at the half-way point in the Rosary Walk.
The above image was taken earlier this year and shows how it looks today. 
This is the story of its re-construction

During the night of the 14th October 2015, an extraordinary weather event took place over the Campania region.The following excerpts are taken from the geographical report published in February 2016 by the ‘Rendiconti Online Societa Geologica Italiana’


“On the night between 14th and 15th October 2015, a destructive overflow of the Calore River caused severe damage in the town of Benevento and the surrounding area (i.e., the Sannio area), causing two fatalities. Approximately three centuries ago, on May 23th 1729, while visiting Benevento, Pope Benedict XIII, stated that this town would be much more threatened by the floodings of the Sabato and Calore rivers than by earthquakes (Zazo, 1986; Mazzacca, 1992). These words were not fully considered worthy of attention at that time, and indeed neither in the following centuries, notwithstanding the fact that damage caused by floods in the main town of the Sannio region was often considerable.

The flood event on 14th-15th October 2015 in Benevento significantly affected the natural landscape and human settlements too. This event was very similar to the previous events, such as the flood in Benevento on 2nd October 1949, when the Calore River caused damage to properties and twenty casualties. ….

The area affected by the rainstorm during 14th and 15th October 2015 was the central-southern area of Italy, where many rivers overflowed. However, the rainstorm was particularly intense in Benevento and its surrounding areas. This territory mostly coincides with the Calore River basin. The Calore River originates from the Accellica Mount, in the central part of the Campania region and it crosses the town of Benevento. …….

The reason I am mentioning this detail is because it is important to know just how widespread and devastating this flooding event was.

Considering that Pietrelcina is criss-crossed by many small rivers and is part of the Benevento area, it follows that it sustained a lot of damage. 

Fortunately it happened during the night therefore there were few people about and no one was near the bridges. However, some residents did go and investigate to see what was happening and witnessed a great wall of water crashing through the small rivulets around the town.

The noise was horrendous as it carried away huge boulders, bridges and even some livestock in its path. Trees which had stood along the riverside where swept away like toothpicks and after the surge had passed great gullies had been created filled with mud, debris and huge boulders. 

Bridge damage near town
Flooded start of the Rosary Walk - It remained impassable for months
Massive boulders
Boulders around the Rosary Walk Bridge

The best way to portray the changes to the landscape that this flood event made is to show you some before and after pictures and the re-construction that was carried out to open the walk once again to the public.

Before the flood
The Flood Damage and Reconstruction

Happily, the bridge and the rosary walk are once again open to all

Deo Gratias

Rosary Walk

The Rosary Walk Pietrelcina

The Rosary Walk has always been one of our favourite features in Pietrelcina. Firstly let me explain what it is and how it came about.

Pietrelcina is quite a small town set amidst undulating countryside which surrounds it like a folded blanket of green fields and wooded areas. It is very picturesque but, for a farming community, causes one or two problems. Most villagers owned small parcels of land which were handed down through their families and these were scattered widely about the area.

The Forgione family owned a small plot of land on the wide, flat plain of Piana Romana (Roman Plain). They had built a small stone room where they stored some of the produce and also slept overnight if they had worked late and did not want to return to the town. 

Since he was a young boy, Francesco would walk along a well worn pathway, through countryside and woodland, with his family members. As they walked, they would recite the rosary. As Francesco grew up, he would follow this 3 km path many, many times, always reciting the rosary as he went. 

This pathway has now been partly paved and the mysteries of the rosary displayed on tiled stands at intervals along the way. This is ‘The Rosary Walk’

Retracing Francesco's Journey

Let us take you on that journey, step by step, from the family home to Piana Romana

We start first at the Forgione home, the birth place of Padre Pio. 

On this same street he lived in later life as a Franciscan Friar and Priest for six years.

The Castello region is the highest point in Pietrelcina Town so he would at first walk down the winding slopes and turn the corner down towards the countryside.

Street where Padre Pio Lived
Steps down from Castello

Going down more steps, he would pass by the oldest well in the village.

The Town WellIn fact, at one time, this well was the sole source of water for the whole town.

This is the official start of the Rosary Walk which is marked by two large stones on either side of steps descending down to the first bridge and the start of the path he and his family would take through open countryside and woods. 

I assume the steps would have been much rougher in his days but now they are beautifully paved and have a viewing terrace half way down. 

The bridge at the bottom was damaged by the flood of October 20014 but has been repaired since.

Start of the Rosary Walk
Reaching the Rosary path
The path through countryside and woods

Walking from the town to the bridge is the less difficult part of the walk and we did it very often, stopping there to say our rosary before turning back to town. It would take us about 20 to 30 minutes to reach the bridge as we did not hurry or make any great effort but took the one hill at a leisurely pace.

This bridge has a special significance in the story of Padre Pio. The following account is well known in Pietrelcina:

Every day, after he had said Mass, he walked to Piana Romana. On his way he recited the breviary or the Rosary. He greeted and answered courteously all those he met. One day, on the little bridge he had to cross, he beheld the devil in horrible form waiting there in a threatening attitude to attack him and throw him into the ravine. Padre Pio hesitated fearfully for a moment, but soon pulled himself together, made the sign of the cross and put the devil to flight. Piana Romana was Padre Pio’s favourite spot where he gave himself up to prayer and meditation and where he began to suffer the pain of the invisible stigmata…..  (from Pray, Hope & Don’t Worry – Issue 33)

Once you cross the bridge, the climb gets much steeper and the ground is rougher. You need a pair of good walking shoes and perhaps a stout stick to continue for the next 100 meters. 

To continue to the second part of the walk: click here

Or you can first read about what happened to the old bridge and then continue on the rest of the walk