Viggianello, whose inhabited area develops close to a rocky ridge of Monte Serra, is considered a strategic point from which various paths originate to explore the evocative woods that climb up to reach the great peaks of the Park. The village is characterised by the Sanseverino Castle: built in the sixteenth century, it has recently undergone a restoration that has converted it into a hotel while preserving its original configuration. The seventeenth century Mother Church, located at the entrance to the village, houses an organ from the 19th century and a baptismal font from the 16th century.
Continuing in the direction of San Severino Lucano, we meet the Church of San Francesco di Paola, from the nineteenth century, which preserves frescoes and decorations, while the old centre features the Church of the Assunta, recognisable by the characteristic “gabled” facade. Close to the village there is the Trinity Chapel with its particular hemispherical dome. Just outside the inhabited centre, the source of the Mercure river is worth a stop. From Viggianello it slides down to reach the valley, until it changes its name to Lao river in Calabria. In this stretch it is possible to experience unique emotions, practising rafting in complete safety among small waves and splashes of water. Viggianello also preserves its traditions linked to arboreal rites with the sickle dance: on the third Sunday of August, in honour of the celebration of the Madonna del Carmelo in the Pedali district, the ritual takes place as a sign of thanks for the harvest to the Madonna. The dance represents a symbolic moment in which the men, with the sickle in their hand, mimic the harvest to the rhythm of the tarantella, while the women make the cirii (wooden silhouettes decorated with ears of wheat and colored ribbons) accompanied by the typical sounds of bagpipes and accordions. Evocative and exciting are the scenarios offered by the mountain: beyond Viggianello, in the direction of Piano Ruggio, we come across the Visitone lodge, set in what is, in all respects, a triumph of nature, between trees and plateaus, where it is possible to meet grazing horses.
At the edge of Piano Ruggio we reach the De Gasperi lodge at 1535 meters above sea level, surrounded by a splendid prairie, which in spring turns into a huge multi-coloured expanse of brightly coloured flowers, framed by the peaks of Monte Grattaculo (1863 meters), Coppola di Paola (1919), Timpone della Capanna (1823) and Serra del Prete, with its 2181 meters. In winter this is the ideal place for cross-country skiing. The unmissable starting point for fascinating and impacting excursions is Colle Impiso (1573 meters), three hours’ walk from Monte Pollino and four from Serra Dolcedorme, the highest peak not only in the Park, but also in the entire southern Apennine range. The path leading to the Grande Porta del Pollino pass at 1958 meters also starts from Colle Impiso and can be reached in two and a half hours on foot. Its name derives from the exciting panorama it offers: an incredible terrace opens to the visitor-hiker’s gaze among the magical high-altitude scenarios offered by the mountain. This is the home of the Pino Loricato (pinus leucodermis), symbol of the National Park. Without much difficulty, from this point we can leave for the Serra delle Ciavole and the Serra del Crispo. The first, nicknamed the “Graveyard of the Pine trees”, houses several specimens of this tree that have survived the weather over the centuries, now considered real arboreal monuments. The evocative Serra di Crispo offers enchanting glimpses with pine trees and panoramas that firmly dominate the Frido and Sarmento valleys.