The Via della Carta (Paper Road): Pioraco – Camerino

The Via della Carta (Paper Road): Pioraco – Camerino

The Via della Carta (Paper Road): Pioraco – Camerino

Duration: 4,40 h (from Pioraco) | 4,30 h (from Camerino)
Difference in altitude: +632 m (total elevation gain from Pioraco) | +464 m (total elevation gain from Camerino)
Difficulty: Hiking (E)
Lenght: 12,5 km
Start: Pioraco Hall, Pioraco | Via Dante Alighieri (about below Rocca Borgia), Camerino
Arrive: Via Dante Alighieri (about below Rocca Borgia), Camerino | Pioraco Town Hall, Pioraco

FROM CAMERINO TO PIORACO

If we could go back in time, the landscape would be crisscrossed by many roads connecting Camerino to its neighbouring cities, to which it was tied by military alliances, trading ventures, religious and cultural association. We can still savor history when treading the medieval Paper Road (Via della Carta). One of the oldest documents produced in the Pioraco fulling mills has a watermark depicting a small dragon: it will guide you along the Paper Road. Departing from here, we descend to Madonna delle Carceri and locality Calvie. The road then plunges into the countryside to reach Seppio, and the Church of Fonte Venere after that. We arrive in Pioraco by way of narrow, rather idle secondary roads.

HISTORICAL INFORMATION

In the Middle Ages, while the pilgrimage to Loreto was being established, this area had notable economic growth. With the technological, financial, and commercial support of Camerino, the neighbouring village of Pioraco set up dozens of fulling mills for the production of paper. The new writing support made from used cloth, the carta bambagina, was gaining success in Italy and Europe. Camerino and Pioraco were so interdependent that merchants, papermakers, and workers needed to move continuously between the two in the fastest and most convenient way possible. To access the mills, they used a main road that went “from the Porta Angelescha and down to Pioracho”. This road was constantly under maintenance and was even partially paved (mactonata). Today, the ancient route is only partially accessible: an alternative is suggested for its first segment.

 

FROM PIORACO TO CAMERINO

The burg is immersed in a natural environment that holds a delicate balance between past and present. Its territory is crossed by numerous historic trails, such as the Franciscan Way. It is renowned for its abundant waters (Potenza and Scarzito spring from these mountains) and rich history, which is tied to the history of paper and of the Da Varano family, who owned mills here. The little dragon depicted on this sign witnessed it all: it was watermarked on one of the oldest documents made in Pioraco. It will guide you on the Via della Carta. From the old town center, we go down via Camellaria and past the Church of the SS. Crocifisso to access a series of secondary roads leading to Seppio. From there, we proceed to Camerino.

HISTORICAL INFORMATION

Pioraco originated from a Roman settlement on an offshoot of the Flaminian Way. In the Middle Ages, it became a manufacturing centre of Italian and European renown due to the production of paper started in the 13th century. It was manufactured with the technological, financial, and commercial support of the neighbouring Camerino, with which Pioraco used to manage a complex production and distribution system. In medieval times, a road used to connect Pioraco to Camerino’sancient Porta Angelesca via the village of Seppio. As via della carta (“Paper Road”), the road moved goods and craftsmen between the mills of Pioraco and the market in Camerino; as a tributary stream to the artery between Rome and Loreto that crossed Camerino, it granted access to the pilgrim route to thousands of pilgrims over centuries. This was particularly crucial since the Flaminian Way and its offshoots were declining. To date, the gate of Porta Angelesca is now lost, although an opening in the city walls suggests its possible location.

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