santo stefano di sessanio

A trip into Prehistoric times


An adventure holiday between Gran Sasso and Sirente-Velino

In spring the lush landscape is heavy with sweet perfume, and an outdoor holiday beckons like a mermaid’s siren call. We have just the thing. Between the rocks of Gran Sasso and the Sirente-Velino, in the caves far away from prying eyes, are buried treasures that are worthy of the best Indiana Jones movies.
We’re talking about the legacy of prehistoric era. This goes for all the forests and woodlands that you see along the way that all date back to those ancient times. For example, the birches, typical Nordic trees that you see in the Gran Sasso National Park, are prehistoric remnants from the Ice Age. But the woods, the forests, the green marvels of our area can be enjoyed by everyone. What we have to offer, though, is an exclusive prehistoric treasure hunt, equipped with ruck sack, torch and trekking boots – a thrilling expedition that brings those ancient times back to life.

How could we start this journey anywhere else than with the very recent discovery of a giant dinosaur footprint that was unearthed on Cagno mountain in Caprara. The giant footprint is believed to have belonged to a (ferocious) carnivore that lived hundreds of millions of years ago. We will reach it via a two-hour trek through woods which, among other things, has plenty of beautiful scenery to enjoy along the way.

Still in the Sirente-Velino Park area, we can’t not mention the enormous necropolis at Fossa. With its distinctive prehistoric standing stones it’s dubbed the Stonehenge of Italy.

But the Gran Sasso has no fewer surpises. The largest and most exciting discovery is perhaps that of a mammoth (and yes, even in Italy we had mammoths), in Scoppito, close to L’Aquila in whose Abruzzo National Museum (MUNDA, to its friends) the mammoth can be seen in all its glory.

Along the ridges of the Gran Sasso mountain, where today you can see pleasant fortified towns, once there were tiny settlements of early man. They hid themselves in caves as protection from ferocious animals. These ancestors of ours left numerous traces of their existence: lances, stone axes, everyday objects and cave paintings. These treasures can be seen, for example, in Catignano, in the neolithic village where many very important painted ceramic remains were found of the so-called ‘Catignano Culture’.

Some years ago many bronze age objects came to light in the Cave at Male di Assergi. The descent is only for true explorers, to see its beautiful underground lakes. They can only be reached, torch in hand, by being lowered 3 metres by rope.

And you can’t miss the Pietra Rossa (Red Rock) cave at Carpineto della Nora. Easier to reach on a guided expedition, it has Iron Age cave paintings and is on route to the majestic pastures of Voltigno, on Gran Sasso’s eastern slopes.


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