Cammino degli Aurunci

The Madonna della Neve Ring

A route through the forest on the slopes of the Aurunci Mountains, departing from the village of Spigno Saturnia Superiore through the ancient snow trails and ghost towns

The route starts from Spigno Saturnia Superiore, or Spigno Vecchio, a small village located on the easternmost slope of the Monti Aurunci Park. The climb starts along a paved mountain road, which, after about 2 km, runs alongside the so-called ‘ghost town’, a cluster of rocks suitably hewn to form shelters, probably by the ancient shepherds who inhabited the mountains. After about 4 km, the road turns into a dirt track and continues uphill until it reaches Viviane. This is where the fun and technical descent begins, following an ancient path with bends and quite challenging sections for downhill enthusiasts. A diversion to the left continues the descent towards the Spigno gorges and the La Ripa spring, where you can still see the frescoes of the old Madonna della Neve church. As an alternative to the technical descent, you can return by going down the same road for a stretch in the opposite direction.

Technical sheets

Length: 12 km
Elevation gain: 690 m
General technical difficulty MC-BC (see table)

The Madonna della Neve Fresco

The Madonna della Neve Fresco – Dating from between the 11th and 12th centuries, restored in 2007, this fresco depicts the ‘Madonna of the Snow’, testifying to the worship of the Madonna in past centuries. In addition to the features of the Madonna, with her dress decorated with snow crystals, the halo of the baby Jesus can be seen.


The ancient people of Aurunci used to build underground structures in the mountains for storing snow and making ice.They constructed huge circular cavities, up to 8 metres deep, lined with dry stone walls, alternating layers of larger rocks with smaller ones to make them waterproof. They were built in the wettest and coldest areas of the Aurunci Mountains and were filled in the winter with snow, overlaid with straw or leaves up to the opening of the ditch, which was then closed. This was how ice was made and also preserved in hot weather. It was transported to the coast and traded mainly at the port of Gaeta. The first documented snow ditches date back to the second half of the 16th century. There are several documented accounts, including regulations in the Statutes of Gaeta that set out rules for the sale of ice, as well as references to shepherds who guaranteed the supply to the city of Gaeta from 1 May to the end of October. Until the beginning of the 20th century, ice blocks were transported to the valley via the ‘snow trails’ during the night on the backs of mules.


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