MOUNTAIN BIKING from Valanidi to Sant'Agata
Municipalities: Montebello Jonico, Reggio Calabria
Difficulty: MC/BC (uphill MC: for average touring bikes; downhill BC: for better equipped touring bikes)
Kilometres: roughly 45
Elevation difference: 1,400 metres uphill, about 1,300 downhill
Minimum height: 20 metres
Maximum height: 1,030 metres
Localities and altitudes: Reggio Calabria – River Valanidi (56 metres above sea level)– Castello Santo Niceto (677 metres above sea level)– Grotta della Lamia (910 metres above sea level)– Embrisi (1,002 metres above sea level)– Santa Venere di Trunca (950 metres above sea level)– Sant’Agata River – Reggio Calabria
Time required: roughly 5 hours
Drinking water: upon departure, at Paterriti, the slope at the St.Niceto station, at Embrisi and Santa Venere
Seasons: all year round
Ordinance Survey Map: Scale 1:50.000 F° Motta San Giovanni
Latest update: October 2015
The views of the Straits with Mount Etna in the background are one of the itinerary’s attractions. The imposing San Niceto castle, with its characteristic ship-like shape, and the legendary Cave of Lamia are of interest too.
Arriving by car
From the SS 106 Jonica, turn off in the direction of Saracinello/Aeroporto. After about 300 metres, turn left in the direction of Reggio and you will arrive at the church of S. Maria del Buon Consiglio in the Ravagnese quarter of Reggio. Park here.
The departure point is Reggio Calabria, from the church at Ravagnese, situated on the southern outskirts of the city, not far from the Tito Minniti airport. We ride for about 200 metres in the direction of the Ionian highway. Immediately after the flyover leading to the airport, we turn right and take a narrower road running parallel to the main one, and, having passed the narrow, dry bed of the Armo, we arrive at the banks of the Valanidi river. We follow its course eastward and, after about 2 kilometres of dirt track, reach the Curduma locality where we leave the river bank and take a rather uneven tarmacked road. After a short uphill stretch, we turn left and pass through the Cavallaro and Amendolea vicinities before reaching the hamlet of Paterriti. Here a challenging uphill dirt track of about 4 kilometres begins and brings us to the foot of the San Niceto castle, partially restored recently. We continue uphill towards the Spagnolo townland, and a little farther on we take a left-hand pathway. Here we continue for about 2 kilometres; when, along some really narrow stretches, we have to shoulder our bikes. We then reach a dry river bed and, after a short steep uphill pedal, we join the tarmacked road from the Allai townland. We take the right-hand fork and, after about 1 kilometre, arrive at the Piano del Prete [Priest’s Plain] then, at another plateau, from where (having gone through a wooden gate) we take the pathway leading to the Grotta della Lamia [Lamia’s Cave] at which we arrive after a 21-kilometre cycle.
After the indispensable visit to the cave, we ride in the direction of the hamlet of Embrisi which we reach after about 3 kilometres of tarmacked road and from this little hamlet we ride on to the Santa Venere vicinity. Now the downhill leg of the excursion begins, which takes us back to the city. After about 3 kilometres, a challenging descent on a dirt track of about 4 kilometres, called Rocca di Ballo, starts and takes us to the Sant’Agata River. From the river, the return to Reggio through the San Sperato and Modena neighbourhoods, is quite straightforward.
Source: Guida Naturalistica della Calabria Greca– Alfonso Picone – Rubbettino Editore – Collana Parco Culturale della Calabria Greca
Text and photos by Pasquale La Cava.