Meeting point at 10 am in Piazzale Kennedy in Avezzano.
The first stop is San Demetrio ne’ Vestini in the Province of L’Aquila, where we visit the Caves of Stiffe. They are a group of limestone caves in the Regional Natural Park of Sirente-Velino. With the help of a guide we will go through the route, about 700 metres long, with a difference in height of 30 metres and the temperature inside is 10°.
After the visit we check-in in the chosen accommodation, we have a rest and then dinner.
We go to Santo Stefano di Sessanio (1251 metre above sea level), ancient fortified borough with about 120 inhabitants in the Gransasso and Monti della Laga National Park, it is one of the pearls of the Abruzzo and, obviously, it is unsurprisingly one of the “Most beautiful boroughs in Italy”. Its charming medieval centre of incredible beauty is entirely built with white local limestone, browned by the time and overshadowed by the cylindrical tower, where you can see the coat of arms of the feudal Medici family, lords of the small village during the 16th century, previously it belonged to the Piccolomini family, which it was destroyed by the earthquake in 2009.
Outside the village it’s a must to visit St Stephan cemetery church and along the lake, the evocative church of the Lady of the Lake (17th century).
We will spend the afternoon around the village and nearby.
Back to our rooms and dinner.
After breakfast we go to Rocca Calascio. The small fort (1460 metres above sea level) is one of the highest fortress in Italy and it overlooks the Valley of Tirino and the Plain of Navelli. The huge white building in chalky stone has a squared plan: a walled courtyard with four cylindrical towers at the corners around a taller inner tower, which is the heart of the defensive system of the castle. It was an effective long distance military observation point, from there they could communicate with other castles until the Adriatic coast, using torches in the morning during the night and mirrors during the day.
At the bottom of the rock you can see the ruins of the ancient hamlet, where you can go walking on a bridge. In 1703 a terrible earthquake badly damaged either the rock or the village. Between 1986 and 1989 preservative restoration works have alleviated the structural deterioration favouring the architectural and functional recovery of the whole building and particularly of the inner tower. Due to these works it is possible to visit today this area.
Rocca Calascio is also famous because it has been the movie set for some famous movies, such as “Ladyhawke”, “The Bride’s Journey”, “Padre Pio”, “The Name of the Rose” and “L’Orizzonte degli Eventi”. The money payed to rent this area for the shoots was invested for the restoration works of the rock, one of the few cases of successful exploitation of the historic and artistic heritage. For the beauty of these places, the film industry has named the whole area, from Rocca Calascio to Santo Stefano in Sessanio, “film set par excellence”. Going down to the village we stop for lunch and you will appreciate the flavours and the atmosphere of Abruzzo tradition.
On the fourth day, after breakfast, we go towards Castelvecchio Calascio, where a guide will describe the particular beauties of the place.
Castelvecchio Calascio is an ancient and fortified village of just 200 inhabitants, located on the top of a hill, in a natural setting of incomparable beauty. The place where it raises is of great environmental value and a tourist attraction. The village was reconstructed in 15th century by Braccio da Montone, after the destruction of 1424, and it presents an orthogonal urban plan enclosed by city walls. The oldest inhabited nucleus is characterized by narrow alleys bordered by stone houses with step external staircases, also in stone, to access to upper floors. The suggestive interweaving of alleys, arches, houses and staircases creates in the visitor a particular emotion and “tells” the close social link that for centuries must have united the inhabitants of the village, especially during the long and rigid winter months.
The most valuable monument in the town is the medieval St John Baptist church, and in the surroundings there is the ancient St Cipriano church (8th century).
Castelvecchio Calvisio, municipality of the Gransasso Monti della Laga National Park, offers spectacular views, which embrase the village of Rocca Calascio and its famous castle, the mountains overlooking the nearby Carapelle Calvisio and the Ofera valley. In 1993 during a WWF naturalistic excursion with botanists of the University of L’Aquila, was found a flower field of Adonis vernalis, a plant that was considered extinct all over Italy. Today it is the pearl of the park and every year renews its splendid flowering in Castelvecchio Calvisio, in this park, that is the richest in plant species in Europe. Return to our accommodation and dinner.
On the last day, after breakfast, we check out. Departure towards the station of Avezzano, where you can go back to your place of origin.
Long walks through the unspoilt greenery of the natural park of Abruzzo, the stone streets of the villages of medieval breath.
You will find yourself in a place, film set of different films.
We will descend into the karst caves and then climb the tops of the fortresses of the surrounding villages.
10:00 Meeting point in Piazzale Kennedy in Avezzano
16:00 Caves di Stiffe
9:30 Departure for Santo Stefano di Sessanio
10:30 Visit of the village
16:00 Visit at the chucrch of the Lady of the Lake
9:30 Departure for Rocca Calascio
10:30 Visit of the castle and village
16:30 Back to the hotel
9:30 Departure for Castelvecchio Calvisio
10:30 Visit of the village
15:00 Visit of the churches of St. John Baptist and St. Cipriano
18:00 Back to the hotel
10:00 check out
12:00 Statione of Avezzano to go back home