Monte Sellaro takes its name from the unmistakable saddle shape that characterizes the pass between its summit and Monte Panno Bianco. This mountain is considered by everybody to be the tip of Pollino by the sea and it is the first peak with vertical walls seen from the Ionian coast. From the top of the mountain you can enjoy a magnificent view of the sanctuary of the "Madonna delle Armi" and the whole Pollino massif with the Gulf of Sibari. For this reason it is recommended to climb Mount Sellaro at 4am to enjoy the view in the rising sun. The top of the Sellaro can be reached via different routes. The classic and shortest route starts at the sanctuary of "Madonna delle Armi" (1000 meters above sea level) and takes at about 4 hours (round trip), with a difference in altitude of 400 meters. The path that starts from the "Fonte dell'Acqua Rossa" and leads up the western slope to descend from the opposite to the Sanctuary is a little bit longer. There are many less demanding routes - all of them picturesque - that cross the slopes of Monte Sellaro and lead to remote locations. Here are the most beautiful ones:
PATH OF ANNAZA. The route starts in the historic center of Cerchiara di Calabria, a medieval village constructed into the rocks, at 650 m. over the sea level. Following the old mule track on the eastern slope of Monte Sellaro, which leads over the Caldanello gorge, you reach the ridges that overlook the gorge (hence the term "Annanza" or "Affaccio"). Continuing on the gentle hills, overlooking the Ionian coast, near an old abandoned farmhouse with the remains of a flourishing rural life. From there you can, instead of going back on your own steps, extend the tour until you reach the sanctuary of the "Madonna delle Armi". So you pass the valley of Sant'Andrea and leave behind the "Serra del Gufo".
Difficulty: T (low) - Lenght: 5 km - Difference in level: 240 m - Duration: 4 h
PATH OF THE PILGRIMS. This path is the antique connecting road between the town of Cerchiara di Calabria and the Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Armi. It was built in the Middle Ages at the foot of Mount Sellaro and dedicated to the "pellegrini" in thanks to the Madonna, who saved the harvest in 1846. Just as the Annanza route (as the crow flies a few hundred meters below), it also traverses the dense oak forest on the eastern slopes of Mount Sellaro and offers a wide panoramic view of the Gulf of Sibari. After a stop at the Pietra del Brigante (where the Calabrian Lucani brigands met according to legend), you reach the Sanctuary.
Difficulty: E (medium) - Lenght: 8 km - Difference in level: 380 m - Duration: 5 h
CESSUTA PARK. This comunal natural park occupies the entire eastern side of Mount Sellaro. The trail starts in the village of Bifurto, near the junction that leads to the sanctuary. Obligatory stop is at the entrance to the abyss of Bifurto, a 684 meter deep gullet, suitable for intrepid climbers. At the "Rifugio della Cessuta" you return into the holm oak forest until you reach the "Pietra del Brigante", where you reach the path of the "Pellegrini" to arrive at the Sanctuary finally.
Difficulty: T (low) - Lenght: 4 km - Difference in level: 100 m - Duration: 2 h
PEAK OF THE OWL - Following the old paths of shepherds and peasants, who had their property at the foot of Monte Panno Bianco, you reach the panoramic plateau on the top of the Serra del Gufo with a magnificent view of the sea. This is an alternative to climb Mount Sellaro, for those who prefer less strenuous but rewarding hikes.
The soft ridge east of Timpone di Bardisce leads to the top of this mountain, which takes its name from the predatory bird of the same name (the sparrowhawk). The view extends from the sea to the highest peaks of the Pollino with a view over the varied Calabrian-Lukan orography. This area represents the ideal habitat for the Italian wolf, which is very rare to see. In winter it is easy to find fresh tracks in the snow. The way back leads across a wide plateau with a natural pond and a stone hut. Follow a pleasant path between fir and beech. We are in the middle of the Lagoforano forest, where a fresh fountain offers relaxation in the shade of the trees.
Difficulty: E (medium) - Lenght: 9 km - Difference in level: up 700 m, down 600 m - Duration: 6 h
This imposing Timpa, which has towering walls from a height of up to 800 meters and hangs over the ravine of Raganello, takes its name from the beautiful village of San Lorenzo Bellizzi, which lies at its feet. To reach the summit, which offers a unique view of the Pollino massif and Mount Sellaro with the Ionian coast, a simple path starts from the town of S. Anna, near the eponymous church. The ascent from this side (north-west) has a duration of about 2 hours (one way)
The most difficult variant begins in the village of Maddalena, at the entrance to the "Gole Alte del Raganello". It goes along the southern tip of the Timpa, with the challenge of small jumps while climbing. The rock face presents itself on this side with layers resting on a steep slope, which are called "Lisci di Pascalone". This route is known as the "Cresta delle Aquile" (Crown of the Eagles), as a pair of golden eagles live between these peaks. One way has a duration of 4 hours.
REQUIRED EQUIPMENT: hiking boots (sturdy shoes), rucksack (backpack), hat and anorak. Depending on the season and weather conditions, it is advisable to carry a thermal jacket, fleece and quilt. The trekking poles are provided by the guides.
The whole area is characterized by a pronounced karst, so that on the slopes of the mountain are numerous caves for speleological purposes (including the "Abisso del Bifurto", the "Antro degli Elfi", the "Grotta di Pannobianco", " Serra del Gufo e di Damale ").