One of the pluses of exploring one of Italy’s less popular regions is that there are actually places that you can have all to yourself. And I am not talking of smallish squares or neighborhoods with no charm whatsoever. I am talking about entire villages and towns that would be overrun by tourists if they were in Tuscany.
One of the entrances to the historical center of Castel del Monte – Olympus OM-D EM10, 17mm (34mm equivalent), f5, 1/125
One of these places is Castel del Monte, a tiny town inside the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park. Its earthquake-shaken buildings cling to the slopes of the Gran Sasso mountain range, inviting you to a serene
walk through its twisting and turning alleys. The town suffered less from the 2009 earthquake than many of its neighbors, and while you would see many cracks and traces of the earthquake if you were there, you would also see many well-preserved buildings. With neither cars nor scooters in the center, and no one else walking the streets on that Sunday afternoon when I visited, I almost felt as if I had traveled back in time.
And if solitude and photo opportunities are not enough to tempt you but celebrities are, it might help to imagine that George Clooney walked the same streets during the making of The American.
Inside the historical center – Olympus OMD E-M10, 14mm (28mm equivalent), f7.1, 1/320, cropped
Castel Del Monte, full of picturesque houses and yet you will be all by yourself – Olympus OMD E-M10, 21mm (42mm equivalent), f9, 1/320
If you are staying in L’Aquila, it is a pleasant half-day trip to Castel del Monte, and it includes a scenic drive through the National Park; short driving instructions are given below. If you like mountains, you can add a visit to Campo Imperatore to your itinerary, and if you are more into food and it’s a warm day, you can stop to have arrosticini (lamb skewers) at a place like Ristoro Mucciante
: they provide the barbecue and sell the meat, you bring your own sides. But don’t count on finding solitude there!
Ristoro Mucciante on the way to Castel del Monte on a sunny Sunday afternoon – Olympus OMD E-M10, 21mm (41mm equivalent), f10, 1/500
Driving from L’Aquila to Castel del Monte:
The drive is popular too – Olympus OMD E-M10, 14mm (28mm equivalent), f11, 1/640
Take the highway in direction Teramo and exit at Assergi, turn left and follow the signs to the funivia, drive past it and continue along Strada Stratale 17bis until signs lead you to Castel del Monte.
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This article was published on perelincolors.com.
Time of visit: September 2014