June 17 Grotto del Bussento (Day 264)

We rented a car today with the help of the hotel concierge who called the car rental agent who she knows and got us a better deal than we could find online! We were picked up and driven to the rental place where we filled out the paperwork then drove back to the hotel to pick up our daypacks, water, snack food & sunscreen! Off we went up into the hills behind Sapri to find the waterfalls we have read about. Our first stop was in the town of Vibonati at a roadside monument to a priest.

I never found out who the priest was or what his accomplishments were to warrant a statue!

It is a great spot to get a view back down to the Mediterranean!

Continuing up into the hills we found this spot, a medieval bridge over a creek, visible from a newer larger bridge!

There are trails leading around to the many medieval villages in the hills, the “Farneto Path” which is “Enhancement of the Bussento River and its tributaries through the recovery of a network of paths, incentive for tourist activities”. (Translated from a sign on the path!)

The views as we rose higher into the hills are fantastic!

We finally reached our destination the Oasi WWF Grotte del Bussento, or the Oasis of the Cave of the Bussento (river), within the Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park. The Bussento River disappears underground somewhere and emerges, icy cold and crystal clear, from the cave we hiked down to. It was hot and humid out and we had a half mile of zigzagging down the hillsides on stone paths and stairs worn smooth by centuries of people and donkeys traveling down the same route! At least we had some shade as we entered forest!

We could feel the cool air and hear the rush of water as we approached the cave entrance. We entered and went down more stairs to see the water so clear that our pictures do not distinguish where the water level is! The cool air rushing out was fantastic natural air conditioning!

Short pathways following the river lead to a grotto of lichen and moss along rushing water flowing over rocks smoothed by eons of erosion! The main path continued towards a medieval era mill that was in use into 1960!

The rustic bridges and rock paths really put you in a medieval setting!

We reached the mill to see water jetting out of the side of the building! We couldn’t go inside to see the mill workings, if they still exist, but we followed the path above the building to see the source of the water, a spring that is channeled down into the building along a stone lined canal.

We were reluctant to leave the oasis of cool water and shady forest but we had to hike back up the donkey path to the car. We continued on our way to the town of Casaletto Spartano where we found a small restaurant and shared a salad and pasta of the day plate!

The town is surrounded by mountains!

As we left town we stopped at the natural spring the town is famous for, the ‘Capelli di Venere’, the Hair of Venus Waterfall.

It is a true fairy tale site! It was so bright and sunny out the picture does not do it justice!

The tiny drops of water sparkle in the sunlight like beads of diamonds.

As we turned down the mountain to make a loop back to Sapri we caught a glimpse of Casaletto Spartano across the valley.

The town looks tiny nestled in the mountains.

As does Sapri along a tiny inlet of the Gulf of Policastro.

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