Our tour A multisensorial experience through the Norman fortresses starts in Barisciano, founded in the 1st century BC by the Vestini (a italic tribe who occupied the area of modern Abruzzo), later became a medieval village. Around the XI century was built a castle, it was not a residence but its walls were an enclosure to accommodate the population in case of danger. A pentagonal tower was built at the highest point with eight smaller towers along the walls, unfortunately this is the only surviving element we can see today.
We head to Peltuinum, one of the Italian cities founded by the Vestini in the 1st century BC and declared national monument in 1902. On this site today we can see a monolith of the vestina era and some remains of the Roman domination: 2 cisterns, a part of a basement and a pronaos of a temple and a theatre almost entirely preserved. The city was abandoned after the earthquake of 443 and over the centuries was subjected to looting during the construction of the new neighbouring cities.
We spend the afternoon immersed in the silence of the nature, measuring ourselves against adventure trails with different levels of difficulty, archery and orienteering.
We check-in in San Pio delle Camere. Its name (delle Camere means of the Caves) comes from some caves carved in the rocky terrain used to protect livestock or store food. At night we have dinner in a typical restaurant.
We begin the second day with a visit to the castle, which has many aspects in common with that of Barisciano: the enclosure-castle was built during the 12th century to protect the population and livestock in case of danger, the fortress was destroyed by Braccio da Montone in 1423/24 and it participates in the foundation of L’Aquila. The plan of the walls is triangular with the tower at the top and other smaller towers along the walls.
We continue towards the medieval village of Bominaco, at first called Momenaco, since in the 10th century it was property of the Benedictine monks, located in a strategic point along the most important routes of communication.
We visit the church of Santa Maria dell’Assunta and the Oratory of San Pellegrino, which in the 3rd/4th century were part of a monastery, the first was restored in the 12th century. Today we can admire its three naves divided by twelve columns, material recovered from the city of Peltuinum; the second has a single nave with a barrel vault, entirely frescoed with episode’s of Jesus’s childhood, the Passion, the Last Judgement, the calendar and the lives of the saints.
After we visit the castle, destroyed by Braccio da Montone in 1424 and rebuilt by the will of Pope Martin V. The plan of the walls is trapezoidal, at the highest point there is a cylindrical tower and along the perimeter square towers. Traces of buildings inside the enclosure have remained.
After lunch we visit a company that produces saffron, the red gold that for centuries has held the economy of these lands. Since 2005 the European Union certified the Aquila saffron with the D.O.P. mark.
In the late afternoon we head to Capestrano, where we check-in and in the evening we will have dinner in a typical restaurant.
Scheduled for the third day is a visit to the Gransasso and Laga Mountains National Park, one of the largest and most valuable protected areas of biodiversity in Europe. Our proposal is an itinerary on horseback on a stretch of the longest Horse riding trail in Italy, but you can also choose an itinerary on foot or by bike. In the late afternoon is expected to return to Capestrano to rest and dinner in the evening.
Since the Normans the city enjoyed the political protection thanks to the transhumance and the saffron trade, which attracted buyers from all over Europe. On the morning of the fourth day we visit the castle, which, like the previous ones, was built around a pre-existing 14th-century tower, but when Capestrano passed under the Piccolomini family, the castle was reinforced and took the name of this family. Almost at the end of the 16th century the town was sold to Francis I and it became one of the Medici States of Abruzzo. The castle accepts the irregularity of the terrain, enabling the outline of the building, with circular angular towers with 15th-century battlements, which resisted to the assault of Braccio da Montone. All around presented a moat on the front facade there was a portal with the coat of arms of the Piccolomini family and on the rear a drawbridge then replaced with a staircase.
Later we visit the archaeological area of Aufinum, the city was conquered by the Romans in the 3rd century BC and abandoned after the fall of the Roman Empire. Tombs dating back to the Iron age have been found, in addition to the Warrior and Lady of Capestrano, today exhibited at the National Archaeology Museum of Abruzzo in Chieti.
Once we leave this site we head either to Lake Capodacqua to dive in an artificial basin that hides wonderful treasures or south to canoe on the waters of the river Tirino.
We continue our A multisensorial experience through the Norman fortresses stopping at San Pietro Oratorium, a Romanesque church immersed in a wood, it presents Christian, pagan and mystic elements of the Middle Ages.
Last stop of the day is Popoli, where we check-in and in the evening we eat in a typical restaurant.
The morning of the fifth day we begin by first visiting the birth place of Corradino d’Ascanio, the engineer who designed the first model of Vespa scooter, the Palazzo Ducale Cantelmo, built at the end of the 15th century, when the family wanted to move from the castle to the village to participate in economic and commercial activities. We can admire the beautiful Renaissance loggia and a staircase surmounted by a Roman mask from the Corfinium site. We stop at the Museum Taverna Ducale Cantelmo, born in the second half of 14th century as a warehouse for the family goods, became a tavern with rooms to accommodate the wayfarers, then a stable and today is a museum that hosts exhibitions and events. Then we go up to the Cantelmo Castle, built around a Lombard tower, in a strategic position to control the traffic of goods and shepherd trails in the valley. The southern tower was restored at the time of the Aragonese domination but the castle was abandoned. The plan of the walls is traingular with a pentagonal tower at the highest point.
After lunch we will visit one of the cellars to taste the typical vines of the region: trebbiano, pecorino, passerina, malvasia and montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines.
The tour A multisensorial experience through the Norman fortresses ends here, where you are free to choosewhether head back to the starting place or carry on with another tour.
Let’s go to discover this territory following a multisensorial itinerary through scents, sounds and landscapes that will make you appreciate all this involving your senses.
09:00 Barisciano, castle
10:45 Ancient city of Peltuinum
12:00 Regno dei Mazzamurelli Adventure park
18:00 San Pio delle Camere, check-in
09:00 San Pio delle Camere, castle
10:45 Bominaco, Church of Santa Maria dell’Assunta e Oratory of San Pellegrino
15:00 Plain of Navelli
18:00 Capestrano, check-in
09:00 Visit to the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park
18:00 Back to Capestrano
09:00 Capestrano, castle
10:45 Archaeological Site of Capestrano
12:00 Lago Capodacqua, diving or Bussi sul Tirino, canoe and Lunch
16:00 Church of San Pietro ad Oratorium
18:00 Popoli, check-in
09:00 Popoli, Birthplace of Corradino d’Ascanio
9:45 Palazzo Ducale
10:30 Museum Taverna Ducale Cantelmo
12:00 Cantelmo Castle and Lunch
16:00 Visit of a cellar and Tasting