The Abruzzo town of Pietracamela, off the Strada Maestra that runs from Montorio to Lake Campotosto, and en route to ever-popular resort Prati di Tivo, is renowned for its summer hikes. An intricate web of walkways lead off from this wonderful medieval town, some more aimed at experienced hikers en route to the Corno Grande and similar, others fortunately more geared to families or the less dynamically capable.
Recently, equipped only with water and the stoutest of spaniels, we embarked on one of the lesser of these walks, that from Pietracamela to the other hill-side town of Intermesoli, further down the valley. This proved a pleasant walk, meandering gently through the outskirts of Pietracamela, past a children’s playground and pictorial depictions of the Stations of the Cross on stone shrines and some interesting examples of Christian Icons, including a Madonna behind bars.
The walk also goes via an old watermill and rockpool fed by waterfall, which I can imagine could provide sweet relief on a hot summer day like this one. After this the downwards walk leads through dense forestry, via (mostly) clearly define paths and several crossroads with wooden signposts, with red marks on occasional trees providing additional guidance. Intermesoli can be reached from here in two ways, the path we chose seemingly the slightly less reliably marked! However, after various twists, turns and second guessing we finally found the way, and continued downhill through fields of giant flowers, numerous buzzing insects and only one other hiker (also with dog, fortunately very friendly).
Coming down via a farm and lane you find yourself in Intermesoli, a small quiet town, though when we arrived it was setting up for a theatrical performance (Teatri de le Rùe’s Una Valigia piena di parole). Intermesoli commands wonderful views out onto the leafy valley and distant cliffs and mountains. The sun this day (in August) was blisteringly hot, and the spaniel was suffering, so we didn’t hang around too long in Intermesoli, and hit a forest trail back up to Pietracamela, a slightly different route that proved difficult intitially, a steep climb on rocky steps that needed a certain amount of energetic leaping. All-in the journey is about 2km each way, unsurprisingly harder on the way back (uphill!). The foliage provides good shade when very hot, though it does also prove to be popular with the flies at this time of the year… Journey time was about 50 minutes each way at reasonably brisk pace.
Parking in Pietracamela at peak seasons (i.e. August and winter-time for skiers) can be difficult, so get there early. Most of the walks involve some fairly strong climbs at some point, so water and sensible shoes definitely a plus! The walks are in the main well marked and defined, but do check with the route guides in Pietracamela before setting off, and if venturing on the more serious climbs up into the mountains take a good map (the National Parks of Abruzzo provide some excellent, hi-detail maps in their tourist offices) and if going alone make sure someone knows where and when you are going.
There is a very good restaurant in Intermesoli, Ristoro Venacquaro, whilst Pietracamela has at least two worthy eateries, one of which the Albergo Montauti we reviewed recently, the other a Locanda almost immediately next door, which we are yet to sample…