Isernia to Sepino (88 kms)
We left the hotel at around 9:30am and found the road to
Longano without a hitch. It was a long climb to Longano and
the morning was very hot. Thankfully there was a welcoming fountain
in the main square at Longano (and we'd only done about 8 miles!).
We bought our panninis here and got chatting to some locals sat in the
shade around the fountain. One of them spoke perfect English and it
turned out he had lived in Preston for a while (Preston is about 65 miles
form our homes).
We explained that we were heading for Sepino via Gallo
which raised a few eyebrows. We were told that the road was very
tough (and rough). Whether we took a wrong turn (more than likely)
or not I don't know, but the road climbed quite steeply, and then -
disappeared (the black bit on the map opposite!). It turned into a
dirt track which was un-rideable, especially on a tandem. We looked
at the map again, but this definitely seemed like the right road! We got
off and walked the tandem and were about to turn around when we met a chap
walking his dog. He said that if we carried on we would meet the
tarmac road soon. 2 miles later, he was right. It really was
quite a job pushing the tandem on this track. We tried riding from
time to time, but some of the rocks were quite large and there were ruts
and potholes all over the place. Not wanting to risk a puncture at
best or a broken rim at worst, we decided to take our time and walk.
We eventually reached tarmac again, hot and dusty.
We headed for Vallelunga, but just before it, the road was closed and we
were sent on a detour, a very makeshift and very tough road. Some
wickedly short sharp steep sections on it. Eventually we reached
Gallo where we stopped for a breather and some water and coffee (just in
time as the owner was shutting up shop for a long lunch). After
lunch we started a steep climb out of Gallo into the Parco Regionale del
Maltese, on to Lentino and past Lago di Gallo. We dropped into the
valley and then climbed gradually to Lago del Maltese. It was a
lovely ride along the lake and then a wooded climb to Passo di Miralago.
From here we took the road signed Campobasso and climbed to Sella
d'Perrone. From here it was an absolutely huge descent (16kms)
through Guardiaregia and on to join the No.17 road. This was a
busier road, but with a good shoulder to ride on, and we soon found the
turn off (easy to miss - it's just a lay-by with a track off it) for
Saepinum, an old Roman town. We pushed the tandem along the track,
through the ruins of the old town and back on to tarmac again headed for
Atillia and on to Sepino. The only hotel in Sepino was closed.
We asked some locals (after climbing half-way up to Sepino old town), and
they suggested trying a place near the station. We still haven't
found the station, but we did find an agroturismo about 5km out of the
town near a railway line. I guess that's what they meant.
The agroturismo was out of this world. Absolutely
stunning inside. Rough stone floors, old wooden doors, stone troughs
with water flowing. For a start, the owner was super friendly, he
persuaded the chef (I presume) to stay and cook us dinner. After
such a long hot day, we were both so relieved to find this place.
The meal that night was something else. I've never seen so much
food. I thought what turned out to be the starter was the meal.
Not at all. It was followed by a huge pasta dish, which in turn was
followed by a meat and potatoes dish which had at least 4 different kinds
of meat (pork chops, chicken, a small bird of some kind etc etc).
All this was washed down with a very large jug of red wine.
The total cost for a double room, evening meal and
breakfast was 70 euros.