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Exploring Gran Sasso’s Natural Wonders

Summer trip off the beaten track

by Yuko Nakayama

During the pandemic, we decided to stay in Italy for the summer, visiting places that were not too crowded or well-known, but which were surrounded by nature and did not have very large infrastructures. So we decided to spend our summer holiday on Gran Sasso and it was worth it. In fact it has become the best holiday we have had here in Italy.

Gran Sasso National Park

The landscape in Campo Imperatore is breathtaking! The colors of the hills and mountains crates so magical atmospheres in 360 degrees. Inside the Park, middle of nowhere, there are few Ristro where you can buy fresh meats and cheeses and grill and eat spontaneously which we loved.

Corno grande – Franchetti huts

After nearly 2 hours of trekking path leads from Prati di Tivo to the Madonnina to get to the Franchetti huts, my son had pain in his feet. No trees, no shadows and unexpectedly the very strong wind arrives which makes it almost difficult to stand, so unfortunately we need to gave up our plan to get to the huts. But then we met lovely sheepdog to cheer us up.

We rent a cozy house in the small town called San Pio della Camera. The owner of the house was so kind and gave us fresh home made extra virgin olive oil and fresh vegetables from his garden. These little kindness made our stay even more special. There were no lights in the streets and in thee evening you could hardly see people walking, so every evening from the terrace we saw millions and millions of beautiful stars that made us special.

Rocca Calascio

It is one of most beautiful and intriguing Castle in Italy. It’s history starts in the 11th century. The castle, located at approximately 1460 meters above sea level, is among the highest in Italy and Europe. The view from the castle is breathtaking. From the Rocca you can see the magnificent octagonal Church of Santa Maria.

I hightly recommend to visit Santo Stefano di Sessanio, fortified medieval village built in the mountains of Abruzzo. It is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. If you love crochet or knitting you must visit the shop called Aquilana, the woman produce pure wool from the native sheep of the Campo Imperatore pastures.

Arrosticini abruzzesi are lamb skewers cooked on the grill, it’s so good that you can’t stop eating whole your vacation. Montepulciano wine, Spaghetti alla chitarra and Pecorino cheese, local foods are really genuine and delicious and good price. Don’t forget to buy pure Abruzzo saffron in pistils, obtain it from the stigmas of the saffron flower collected strictly by hand.

The Stiffe Caves is also nice to visit, The caves are very suggestive, with waterfalls and waterways.
A beautiful turquoise river immersed in nature, paddling in the clear waters of the Tirino river with kayaks were also very nice experience.