Exploring the Region of Abruzzo (II)

The Abruzzo region in Central Italy is located at the Adriatic coast. Its variety is really impressive and enjoyable. From sandy beaches with a great tourist infrastructure to lonely forest paths, from ice-cold mountain rivers to cozy little villages with lots of history and tradition. I am exploring slowly more and more of the greenest region of Italy.

Here are some more impressions I took while I had a chauffeur driving me around so I could take some nice photos in the mountain area.

Let’s drive around together!


For further information:
Abruzzo Tourism

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Visiting the Sistine Chapel of Abruzzo

Many times I just drive around and ‘find’ something interesting. Most of the times it is something I saw or read on the Internet. Very rarely I actually know something about the place I explore BEFORE I do so. The chapel of Bominaco is something like that. I saw pictures, thought that could be interesting and ‘bang’ – it is even the Sistine Chapel of the Abruzzo.

Bominaco is a little village with less than a hundred inhabitants. It is located pretty high in the mountains (1.000 m above sea level). Today the little ‘lost place’ is famous for it’s two Benedictine churches: Saint Maria Assunta and Saint Pellegrino. Both once were part of a monastery.

The Church of Santa Maria Assunta is a Romanesque church. The monastery was founded in the early Christian period, in the 3rd and 4th century. Saint Pellegrino, a saint from Syria (I couldn’t find anything about him, even looking up multiple languages), was buried here. He was killed in Bominaco.

The church we see today was founded in the 12th century. There are different dates on door and pulpit but they both refer to some other events. The architecture is Romanesque with three naves and three apses but inside it presents a Baroque style. The church looks clean and simple, no rich decoration. Outside some windows have beautiful frames, though.

Inside it looks simple, there are some paintings along the walls. The columns are interesting as they all look different as they are re-used columns. Impressive is the very high candle-holder and the beautiful worked ambo. I didn’t take pictures.

The second church is ‘the one. From outside pretty simple, just aside the main church. Walking around to get to the main entrance we have a look on the castle on the top. It looks interesting as well.

The little Saint Pellegrino church has a nice entrance like a portico with columns and a paved floor. When the little door opens (on the back side is another one, smaller and surely for the priest) and the light goes on inside you will have an absolutely wow-moment.

The oratory is part of the old Benedictine monastery of the Carolingian era. The number ‘1263’ on the top of the backdoor where is also a little bell-tower, indicates the year of construction. It was commissioned by the abbot Teodino.

The small church (18.7 m x 5.6 m) is filled over and over with the most colorful and amazing frescoes from the 13th century. There is a little half high wall dividing the space in two, I guess the backside for the monks, the front side for lay visitors.

We could sit on a bench and admire for a short time the beauty of this amazing place. Faux curtains, the life of Christ, the Passion, life-stations of many saints (also Saint Pellegrino), the months of the calendar even with zodiacs. It is thought that there were at least 3 artists involved, names are unknown. Here finally I decided to take some pictures.

We were the only visitors that moment but came clearly after another couple and when we left there was another one. The place is open to public but you have to call the custodian to open. He walks with you and tells you some history of the place. He also explains a lot of the amazing, colorful paintings in the Saint Pellegrino oratory. We offered for the guided tour as all is at no cost.

We have not been to the overlooking castle unfortunately. I think there is a great view on the whole landscape around. The Medieval castle dates back to the 12th century, was destroyed in 1424 and rebuilt by the feudal lord of Bominaco Cipriano da Forfona.

Days before I saw pictures on the Internet and made a note that I would like to see this place one day. Then it happened we were in the area and so we tried and succeeded to see the church. I would super recommend this place, maybe best around November when the saffron crocus will be harvest here on the Navelli plateau.

Oratory of Saint Pellegrino, Bominaco, Abruzzo/Italy:

For further information:
Abruzzo Tourism
They have their own website, in case you want information for visiting times, how to arrive and more

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Exploring the Region of Abruzzo (I)

The region of Abruzzo is a Southern Italian region with less than 1.5 million people. Marche on the north, for the most part Lazio on the west and Molise in the south, the region has a long beachy coast on the Adriatic. I am on the way to explore it.

As I am from Ischia in the Neapolitan area, I see a lot in common with the Campania region, in language, in culture, in history. From wonderful, white beaches to the ski slopes there is everything imaginable.

Abruzzo is called the greenest region in Europe as half of the territory is set as national parks and protected areas. This gives 75 % of Europe’s living species a secure home. Here you find the golden eagle, chamois, wolf and brown bear. The southernmost glacier, il Calderone, is disappearing like all glaciers worldwide. There is a nice description of the nature and people here: strong and kind. I think that is a very nice one.

Historically the region goes with most of the southern history of Italy and I won’t write about it. But did you know that Gabriele D’Annunzio was form Pescara? And Pontius Pilatus was born in Bisenti.

Geographically Abruzzo is already in the south of Italy, along the Apennine mountains and the beautiful beaches on the Adriatic Sea. The Gran Sasso is the highest mountain with nearly 3.000 meters/9.500 feet, followed by the Majella with just a few hundred less. Many know the Abruzzo area maybe from the 2009 earthquake that destroyed L’Aquila. Or the snowslide a few years ago, covering a whole hotel with the people inside.

Wine and olive oil (you see endless fields with olive trees and grape vines), they are famous for their goat and sheep cheeses and for fish along the coast.

The main cities are L’Aquila in the mountains, and along the coast from north to south, Teramo, Pescara and Chieti. I am right now near to Pescara but in the Teramo province. I haven’t been to the Abruzzo International Airport in Pescara yet, but it seems the connections are very good. Well, when flying is again an option.

Well there is sooo much to write about the Abruzzo region and I won’t in one blog article. There will follow quiet a few more though in future and in every article there will be something about this place.

I found out that many people from UK and USA are living here and they are all very excited about the country. It seems to me that here is still less tourism, much more nature and the people are more authentic. It is the perfect place for future tourism, slow and authentic. For people who want to break out of the daily madness of their lives and want to experience some different but more calm. Like hiking in the mountains, one day going on the beach, the next day taking a bath in ice-cold gorges. In winter you can go skiing. All in one region. Amazing!

Well the following blog-posts will show some of the photos I took during my driving around, exploring and looking for sites. Which will have their own blog-posts as well, of course.


For further information:
Abruzzo Tourism

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Artificial Beauty – Lake Barrea in the Abruzzo Mountains

Located in the beautiful National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise there is the lake Barrea. It seems so natural but actually is artificial and serves as water supply.

Historically there is not very much to say as it was already planned in 1922 but only 30 years later it was finally realized by building a dam at the river Sangro at the mouth of the river Barrea. Today the area is protected.

There are two little villages: Villetta Barrea and Civitella Alfedena. There are three entrances coming from Rome via Forca d’Acero, and coming from east from Castel di Sangro and Pescasseroli, where we came from.

The lake has about 225 ha, is 31 meters deep at it’s deepest point and located in 990 m above sea level. With it’s five kilometers length and 500 m width it is a pretty big surface of the most fascinating blue. There are many birds like herons, ducks, kingfishers, and much more. We saw actually some deer bathing at the shore of the lake. People can sunbath or go swimming in the lake, there are many hiking paths around and even with the bike I saw several people.

We had a short walk along the shore, sat a while on an old bridge, inhaled the quietness, observed the deer and enjoyed the incredible color of the lake. Later we drove through the little village of Barrea taking the road up in the mountains to the Campo Imperatore.

Barrea lake, Abruzzo/Italy:

For further information:
Abruzzo Tourism
If you want to visit the Park take some information before

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Pescasseroli – Bavarian Village in the Middle of Italy

A village in the middle of Italy’s Abruzzo mountains in the style of a Bavarian village. Narrow roads with flower pots and the high mountain range around. Somewhere the music of an accordion. Welcome to Pescasseroli!

I didn’t know where this village is located but later I saw it is right in the center of the Abruzzo mountains, half way to Rome already. It is about 1.160 m high and has little more than 2.200 inhabitants. Looking up to the super blue sky I notice a very old stone structure which could be the fortress of ancient times.

It is a summer and winter resort, touristic, it’s very clear to see. A little ‘mercatino’ (market) with stands of handmade goods, local honey and more tries to steal my interest away from the houses, balconies with lots of flowers, flower pots hanging on the walls and little inner yards you can peak in through an open gate.

We walked through the little town, had a little lunch – one had a typical sandwich and I had a mixed antipasto with lots of local cold meat and some cheese. Sooo good! – and explored a little the center.

Pescasseroli you find in the Abruzzo National Park in the heart of the Monti Marsicani. That indicates also the Italic people that lived here in ancient Italy, before they became part of the Roman Empire. During the centuries it had a lot of different owners like many other mountain villages. Today it is the center for nature excursions and winter sports.

I like this little story that explains why the village has this name. There was once the son of the owner of the castle. His name was Serolo. He was gone to fight in the first crusade. In the far away land he met a young, beautiful girl with the name Pesca. He fell in love with her and married her. He sent her home to the castle where his father lived and left her safe waiting for him to come back. But the father liked her more than he should and tried to get her. She didn’t want him and ran away. He killed her nearby. When the son came back Serolo was so disappointed that he died from grief. His father buried him where already Pesca was lying. Later he founded, full of sorrow for what he had done, a village on their tomb and called the place after the both of them: Pescasseroli.

We came here because there should be an event with wine tasting, popular music and typical products. We were right, but it would be only in the evening. And we didn’t want to stay that long.

We walked around, had a look here and there in the shops, the stands, and in the end we decided to sit in the piazza to have a snack for lunch. I was very surprised that it was still as warm as it was down near the beach. We listened to the accordion players (several) and the many tourists, nearly all Italians.

We left early to explore more of the mountains that are full of surprises to me.

Pescasseroli, Abruzzo/Italy:

For further information:
Abruzzo Tourism
If you want to visit the Park take some information before

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