Lured by the first sprinklings of snow up on the mountains of the Majella National Park, coupled with a beautiful warm autumn day, we couldn’t resist heading up to the top of La Majelletta – an easy drive, less than an hour from your Abruzzo villa for two.
It’s only when you emerge through the treeline after going past the Passo di Lanciano ski resort that you realise quite how high you’ve driven. We took these opening pictures at around 1500m/4920ft up.
Over to the north-west, a little over 50kms away, is the Gran Sasso range and the towering peak of Corno Grande, at 2912m/9554ft, the highest mountain in the entire 1000km Apennine chain, while all around you, Abruzzo is spread out like a patchwork quilt.
On the clearest days in winter, you can actually quite easily see the Adriatic 35kms away to the east – allegedly the only place in Europe where you can ski and see the sea at the same time. (And it has to be easier to do than to say…)
We drove from Passo di Lanciano up La Majelletta until the road runs out at 1995m/6546ft. Or rather the road continues a little further up to the Blockhaus peak and beyond and although you can walk it, only official vehicles are allowed to drive on it.
Park the car; walk up the road a little and enjoy one of the Majella National Park’s most spectacular views. Rising above thickly forested slopes, is Monte Acquaviva – 2737m/8980ft – with the distinctive ‘V’-shaped gully running off its summit.
And of course, we did exactly what you’ll probably do too – set the self-timer and take a picture. The little wall we’re sitting on – no more than 60cms high – is all that used to separate the mountain road from…well…quite a drop. You’ll be pleased to hear the barriers nowadays are a lot more substantial !
The mountains of the Majella National Park have provided us with the inspiration of names for our three villas – Il Martellese (our nearest mountain); Acquaviva; and Pesco Falcone. You can see Il Martellese and Acquaviva from the sun terrace outside your Abruzzo villa for two. To be honest, we’re not sure whether you can glimpse Pesco Falcone or not. Mountain tops look a little different when seen from ground level !
You can follow the drive we took up into the mountains between March and October. During winter the road heading up after the ski station at La Majelletta is generally open – but check the weather conditions first.
(Click on the images in the text above for the bigger picture !)