Cerqueto is probably most famously known for its Christmas Presepe Vivente, but exploring the surrounding areas also reveals the most unexpectedly abundant technicolour multi variety orchid trail, with sublime views of Abruzzo’s “Sleeping Giant” the Corno Piccolo (2655m), perfect for those that fancy a gentle May ramble
You’ll see the orchid walk signposted as Rio S Giacomo’ (977 masl) at the foot of the village of Cerqueto, which is 740 masl. It is a relatively easy walk, but if you fancy extending your hike you can go on to Pietracamela, have lunch and walk back (1.15 hr each way). Although this high up you’ll benefit from a cooling breeze, the path isn’t shaded so do take a hat! The orchid display up here is something else and took us ‘Londoners’ completely by surprise, it felt as if you had quite literally walked into the middle of a private orchid rave such were their diversity and colours. I’d probably list this to be one of my ultimate Abruzzo picnic spots, listening to the river waters below with such incredible views. For those that fancy dipping their feet into a cooling rock pool you can ease your feet into the spring waters at the beginning (and end) of the walk.
For those looking for a little more action beyond the remarkable mountain views and orchids-fest, climbers also abseil down the Rio San Giacomo’s frozen waterfalls during winter.
The best English language pages on walking around the Corno Piccolo & Corno Grande we have found is on Summit.org page – this is a collaborative community focused on climbing, mountaineering, hiking and other outdoor activities and is truly excellent in the information it provides & recommends. There is also Stuart Haines guided walking books.