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Stage 10

Pompei > Cusano Mutri (Bocca della Selva)

Pompeii the magnificent

It is simply impossible to find another archaeological site in the world displaying the appearance of an ancient Roman city in its entirety. It only happens in Pompeii, the starting location of the tenth stage of the Giro. The city was as if crystallised by the famous eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D., during which a rain of ash and lapilli enveloped everything: houses, inhabitants, streets, public buildings and objects of everyday life. Everything was as if ‘frozen’ in a terrible snapshot. A World Heritage Site since 1997, the surface area of the ancient city is about 66 hectares; the excavated area is about 44 hectares and 1500 buildings (domus and monuments) have been brought to light. Wandering through the avenues of this city fills the eyes with beauty and the heart with wonder. It is difficult to tear oneself away from here. However, the peloton cannot afford to wait and there is just enough time for a stop at the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary in Pompeii, one of the major centres of Marian devotion in Italy, visited each year by some three million faithfuls.

The Beneventano Area

A few kilometres after the start, we reach the archaeological site of Longola, recently discovered and described by archaeologists as a “Venice of 3500 years ago”. Yet another ancient world will open up to us as we visit the Early Christian Basilicas of Cimitile, near Nola: a little-known site but exemplary of the transition from the Roman to the medieval age, from paganism to Christianity (the first buildings date back to the 4th century AD). We then enter the Beneventano area, the cradle of Aglianico, a wine that has become a favourite of sommeliers and consumers around the world. Just before Arpaia, check out the gorges of the Forche Caudine, where the Roman army suffered one of its worst defeats. To be honest, the exact location has never been confirmed by historians, but even without absolute certainty, it is nice to let ourselves be taken in by imagination.

The Matese Regional Park

The racecourse then tackles an endless carousel of ups and downs through the heights of the province of Benevento. In Telese Terme, a regenerating stop can be made before heading to Cusano Mutri. The village, also home to the Bocca della Selva, where the finish line of today's stage is set, is one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. A sort of certification for what is considered the most precious jewel of the Matese Regional Park. In addition to nature lovers, the place is frequented by the faithful attending the church of St. John the Baptist in the presence of the Holy Thorn, believed to have come from the crown of Christ. The local stone-working tradition is celebrated by the world's largest stone mortar, which has been entered in the Guinness Book of Records. The right place for an original selfie before ascending to Bocca della Selva, where those with trained legs can reach the summit of Monte Mutria, an incomparable panoramic terrace over the Matese mountains.

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