Sadly, it was time to leave Gessopalena, and head back to Roma. We had one more night before arriving at the capital of Italia, and Giovanna had arranged hotels for us — but, more on that later. We had a full day of adventure ahead of us, and so we were out of the door, and in the car, by 10:00am, heading for our first destination — the town of Santo Stefano di Sessanio. Santo Stefano di Sessanio is located in the Gran Sasso National Park, in the highest section of the Apennines. Over the centuries, the town was largely abandoned, but it is now having a sort of “re-birth,” as many of its structures are being renovated, and people are using them as weekend getaways. It doesn’t hurt that the town was listed as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, “I Borghi Piu Belli d’Italia”!We arrived in Santo Stefano just before lunchtime, so we decided to walk around the town a bit, before enjoying a nice midday meal.I loved walking around this town! Every turn you made brought another lovely sight, and I am not only talking about the buildings in the town itself. The surrounding countryside was magical!The late Italian singer Lucio Dalla had a vacation home here, in Santo Stefano. I couldn’t help but think, as I wandered the tiny alleyways and lanes, that it would be a relaxing place to call home, even if only for a few days.The town suffered severe damage during the 2009 earthquake that struck the L’Aquila region. Repair work is still going on. After a nice lunch, we got back into the car, and headed for our next destination — the Rocca Calascio. This is a 10th-century fortress that was used as a location in the film “Ladyhawke”. Giovanna had been there before, and she thought that Neda and I would enjoy seeing it. As we approached the Rocca, we saw cars parked along the road, quite a distance below the fortress, and Giovanna explained that we had to park there, as there were no other opportunities for parking further up. Thus, we began the climb up the rugged terrain. Let me tell you, it was harder than it looks!About fifteen minutes into our climb, we encountered a parking lot! That’s right! There was an area with space for numerous vehicles. This is where most people park before beginning the climb to the Rocca, saving themselves both time and energy! We had to laugh at ourselves.From this point, one simply follows the signs, or the crowd, to the Rocca.The path gets steeper, and becomes more of a rocky trail. Those who bravely continue on are finally rewarded with a view of the Rocca!I never actually made it all the way to the Rocca. I was content with having arrived at the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pieta, which dates back to the 17th century.I took a few minutes to catch my breath, and admire the view, and then I began my descent.
Next up: another visit to Fiumicino — the city, not the airport!
Note: this blog is written in English and Spanish, and the author takes no responsibility for the quality of any other translations which may appear. If you have enjoyed this post, please check out our archives for more posts from Abruzzo, as well as other Italian destinations. Grazie!