Leaving the elegant Orvieto behind us, we leave for Abruzzo.
Abruzzo is the region of Italy that you study behind school desks while talking of the greatness of Gran Sasso and then goes back to be an abstract nebula of the small but highly articulated Italian geography. We know very little about this middle ground and this is what intrigues us most – besides the idea of getting in touch with nature, walking through ancient villages and the hope of seeing a brown bear (but at a safe distance). Everything we find along the way will surprise us.
The first inevitable stop is the region capital,L’Aquila or what still remains of it.
We enter the heart of an elegant city, a phoenix slowly rising from its ashes. Everything around us is renewed or new, of what was there before the terrible earthquake of 2009 there seems to be very little left, except for strength and a peculiar elegance. The streets are half empty, the fresh white paint reflects sun rays while the marvelous mountains stand out between the buildings in the distance. The huge Piazza del Duomo is animated by restaurants and surrounded by churches and houses. We visit the elegant Basilica of San Bernardino and the Church of Santa Maria del Suffragio and then leave for the next destination.
Rocca Calascio is a famous village dating back to the Middle Ages and its castle, perched up to 1400 meters, dominates the underlying plateaus with elegance. Together they are one of the main destinations ofParco Nazionale d’Abruzzo.
A long walk takes us straight to the village invigorated by the shops of local artisans and restaurants, to continue to the top of the castle from which one can enjoy a breathtaking view, the splendid mountain flowers, the sunset and the fresh air make the atmosphere enchanted just like in Lady Hawke and Nel Nome della Rosa movies, shot here. In the evening we take refuge in the minimalist rooms ofConvento di San Colombano, a former convent restored in the heart of the Natural Park, we spend three nights here and it will be the perfect relaxing place to explore the amazing surroundings.
We dedicate the following days to the surprising panoramas that surrounds us, to walks among the cows, to the hamburgers ofCampo Imperatore and to the uphill hikes to get closer to the peaks of the sharp mountains.
We explore the old hamlets ofSanto Stefano Sessanio, Carapelle Calvisio and the Sanctuary of San Pancrazio surrounded by greenery, then we reach theRifugio del Duca degli Abruzzi and Castel del Monte. We have lunch at the raw tables of theRistoro Mucciante and taste local meats and cheeses, among horses, riders, campers and a landscape illuminated by summer.
We say goodbye to this unspoiled nature, a slalom between grazing cows and enjoy the highlands illuminated by the sunset. A sight never seen before.