Walking in Abruzzo
Essential guidebook for walking in the Abruzzo, a wild region of Italy incorporating the Abruzzo, Maiella, and Gran Sasso national parks and the Sirente-Velino regional park. 30 day-walks are described including an ascent of Como Grande, the highest point in Italy outside the Alps. The area is easily reached from the airport at Pescara.
Seasonsmost routes are accessible from May until October; summer can be hot but late snows may extend the season till November; spring can be perfect for the lower routes.
CentresSulmona is central and well located for all parks; L’Aquila is in the north and Castel di Sangro the south
Difficultywalks are graded – 1 is a straightforward wander that may involve a climb, 2 is suitable for a fit walker with reasonable experience of the hills and 3 is for those comfortable with mountain conditions, exposure and route finding
Must Seethe highest and most remote part of the Apennine mountains of central Italy; rare wildlife; beautiful hilltop villages; tranquil forested valleys; rugged peaks; memorable eating and wonderful walking!
Abruzzo is wonderful walking country. It is one of the wildest and least populated regions of Italy, with 26 peaks over 2000m, and home to three national parks. There are fine routes throughout this largely protected area, between charming hilltop villages through forests and gorges and along high mountain ridges.
This beautiful natural environment is maintained to a remarkable extent in the region’s three national parks - Abruzzo, Maiella, and Gran Sasso, the Sirente-Velino regional park and many smaller reserves.
The 30-day walks in the guidebook are for people who want to experience the beauties, and perhaps challenges, of a quiet and remote part of Italy.
The routes, which all have a grade for difficulty, vary from gentle strolls to serious expeditions in the mountains. About a third are easy going – a half day generally. Most however are long walks and mountain treks for those who enjoy a full day out. They visit ten of the region’s 16 highest summits, including the three highest points of the Apennines.
The walking season begins in late spring and goes into early autumn – late April to early October.
- 30 walks described in four areas across the region
- illustrated with clear colour sketch maps
- with detailed information about how to reach the more remote start points
Food and drink
Walking in Abruzzo
When to go
Places to base yourself
Using this guide
Advice for the trail
The Maiella National Park
1 Fara San Martino Gorge and Val Serviera
2 The Hermitage of San Bartolomeo di Legio
3 Monte Morrone from Passo San Leonardo
4 The Orfento Valley
5 Caramanico and the Orfento Gorge
6 Monte Amaro from Lama Bianca
7 Monte Amaro from La Maielletta
8 Monte Porrara Ridge
The Gran Sasso National Park
9 Monte Prena and Monte Camicia
10 Santo Stefano and Rocca Calascio
11 The West Peak of Corno Grande
12 Monte Bolza Ridge
13 Pietracamela and Prati di Tivo
14 Monte Corvo and the Val Chiarino
15 Monte di Mezzo Circuit from Campotosto
The Abruzzo National Park
16 Villetta Barrea and Civitella Alfedena
17 The Val di Rose
18 Anversa degli Abruzzi and Castrovalva
19 La Terrata
20 The Scanno Town and Lake Loop
21 Monte Marsicano
22 Pescasseroli and Opi Circuit
23 Monte Mattone from Pettorano sul Gizio
24 Monte Genzana
25 A Tour of the Valle del Gizio
THE SIRENTE-VELINO REGIONAL PARK
26 Monte Sirente
27 The Celano Gorge via Fonte degli Innamorati
28 Monte Velino
29 Fontecchio and Pagliare di Tione
30 The Navelli Plain
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Further access information
Appendix C Italian–English glossary
Appendix D Useful contacts and further information
There is no comprehensive mapping of Italy for walkers. Published maps of Abruzzo are patchy, both in coverage and quality, but the maps listed in the table below are recommended and cover most walks.
1 Monte Genzana, Monte Rotella 1:25,000 Club Alpino Italiano (CAI) – Sezione di Sulmona
2 Monti Marsicani 1:25,000 Edizione il Lupo
3 Maiella National Park – Tourist Map 1:50,000 Monte Meru Editrice
4 Gran Sasso d’Italia 1:25,000 Club Alpino Italiano (CAI) – Sezione dell’Aquila
5 Gran Sasso d’Italia 1:25,000 Edizione il Lupo
6 Majella 1:25,000 Edizione il Lupo
7 Monti della Laga 1:25,000 Club Alpino Italiano (CAI) – Sezione di Amatrice/SER
8 Velino–Sirente 1:25,000 Edizione il Lupo
9 Sirente-Velino – Tourist Map 1:50,000 Edizione il Lupo
The sketch maps in this guidebook should suffice for shorter walks below the tree line, but you should take the recommended map as well. You should definitely take a map for routes that visit peaks, ridges and bare mountainside.
The recommended map for each walk is given in the information boxes at the start of each route.
Maps can be difficult to obtain, especially out of the region. In Sulmona, try Nuova Editrice on Piazza Settembre XX or Susilibri on Via Panfilo Manzara; in L’Aquila, Agnelli on Corso Principe Umberto; or, near Pescara, the bookshop in the Abruzzo Centre shopping mall. Tourist information offices and park visitor centres often keep a small selection, and maps may also be found in bars, restaurants and newspaper kiosks.
Currently maps 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 can be bought online at www.illupo.com. The service is good, with orders typically taking about a week to arrive in the UK. The website is in Italian, but the ‘Compra online’ section (where you need to go to place orders) also works in English. Other suppliers include Stanfords, www.stanfords.co.uk, and The Map Shop, www.themapshop.co.uk. Both are based in the UK, but they deliver by post worldwide.
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Walk 17 The Val di Rose
On 7 September 2012, the Abruzzo National Park authority had still not re-opened the Val di Rose to unrestricted access, and rangers were turning people without a permit back.
The route has been closed in July and August for years to help protect the newborn calves in the large chamois family that live at the head of the valley. There has been no advertised change to this policy and it is assumed that this year, following an unusually hard winter, the breeding season began late. Therefore the rangers had kept the path closed longer than normal. There was, apparently, notice of the closure at the beginning of the path but in Italian only.
The author walked the route in the first half of September 2011 without any problems, so the continued closure into September this year is assumed to be a one-off. The Park website continues to notify the closure for July and August only. See http://www.parcoabruzzo.it/iti_dettaglio.php?id_iti=1824.
And, of course, the rangers will sometimes do things at short notice because they need to.
Walk 25 A Tour of the Valle del Gizio
At the point between Vallelarga and Pettorano sul Gizio where you reach the house on the corner and set off to follow the path across the field to the electricity pylon, you will find that the field has been fenced and an almond grove has been planted. You can’t walk across the field anymore. So, at the house, turn right and head up the rising tarmacked road heading into the Val Lavozza. After about 500m, turn left at a junction with another tarmacked lane and follow it, south east, to re-join the route description at the bridge over the canal. (This alternative is described in the book only now it isn’t an alternative.)
Secondly, and better news, is that the path along the river back from Pettorano to the road near the railway bridge has been recently upgraded to a cycle path. It’s as quiet as ever but is now a more pleasant stroll.
Walk 30 The Navelli Plain
The tratturo, the old drover’s track, across the Navelli Plain has been tarmacked for at least the stretch running north west from Caporciano. So, for unsealed lane now read tarmacked track.
It’s also reported that the lane leading down from Caporciano to the start of the traturro has become overgrown. This can happen over the years but is often seasonal. The comune sometimes clear vegetation and trim back trees in the autumn and winter. The alternative is to follow the road down to the start of the tratturo.
One other tip for Walk 30 is that when passing through Tussio, on the way to Bominaco, cross the piazza on the south east side of the church to the far (south west) end of the church. Follow the road ahead (Via Lauretana), south west past houses, until it soon bends leftwards and leads down to a junction with the road coming up from the Navelli plain. Turn right and walk on up towards the cemetery as per the book.
Walk 1 Fara San Martino Gorge and Val Serviera
It is highly recommended to make an early start to this route.
Walk 16 Villetta Barrea and Civitella Alfedena (pp106–107)
From Civitella Alfedena, to find the beginning of path I3 down through the woods to the lake, you need to walk left along the road from the wolf museum for about 50 metres. Then the start of the path appears on the right – just past the last building.
You can still visit the wolf compound but just go back to the museum and road after having looked into it. (In September 2011 there was a juvenile wolf being kept apart from the others in a smaller pen at the far end of the compound – a lot easier to spot!)
Walk 13 Pietracamela and Prati di Tivo
There has been a significant landslide at Pietracamela. Reader Marla Williams reports the following:
“The Pietracamela walk is currently blocked! In May, the overhanging rock just above the village fell away in an enormous landslide. The rock is the size of a block of flats! Apparently at the time they thought they were having another earthquake!
We did find a way up by walking along the road to Prati di Tivo for about 200m and taking a path up to the right (which I believe was nearly opposite the Carabinieri) and following it up the hill. We crossed the water conduit and continued uphill to a small chapel. Past the chapel, the path went slightly right and joined the main route again by the river.
On the way back down, our way into the town was blocked by the landslide. After a failed attempt to climb above it, we were lucky enough to come across a local guy who explained what had happened. The water supply was cut off by the landslide, so they have set up a temporary pipe across the ‘crater’. Our new friend guided us across the landslide, following the route of the pipe and into the square at the top of the village. Back through the garden by Piazza degli Ero, the paths have been blocked off by the commune as the top of the village is effectively a danger area. The park trails 100, 102 and 148 are all affected where they lead into the village.”
In addition, James Stobart says:
"In May 2011 the paths were closed. We also found a local (climber) who showed us a route to the top of the town (through the no entry barriers) where we could pick up the path to Prato. We don’t normally disobey warning notices, but he assured us that it was safe and that no one would be angry with us! This proved to be the case."
Stuart also posts updates on his website at www.casalarocca.it/wordpress/?page_id=336.
"This [is an] excellent little book, written by part-time Abruzzo resident Stuart Haines. We... want people to enjoy the mountains in a safe and responsible manner... Buying a book like this to be really well informed is a really good start.
The author has meticulously included the little details, which in our opinion often make the difference for visitors as to whether they will attempt this kind of outing. The seemingly mundane pointers such as where to park, where are the best spots for a picnic and if there are facilities at the start and along the route are what makes this handy and affordable guide a particularly useful little volume which all residents and visitors to Abruzzo should have in their collection. As an added bonus the photography is pretty special too – almost all of the images were taken by the author whilst researching the material for the book and serve not only as helpful illustrations but more importantly as the inspiration to just get out there and enjoy the mountains."
Read the full article here: http://welcometosulmona.com/walking-in-abruzzo/
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Stuart Haines is a walker, mountain lover, guidebook writer, project manager and occasional viticulturalist. His explorations of the remoter corners of central Italy began in 2004, following many years of climbing and adventuring in the Alps, North America and his native UK. Since 2007 he has been based between Bristol, England, and Casa La Rocca, the country house in the heart of Abruzzo that he renovated with his partner, Hil.View Guidebooks by Stuart Haines
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