santo stefano di sessanio

Wonders hidden among sheep trails


Rural churches and archeological sites

Ruins, churches and villages, small enough to have been saved from globalisation, very close to the Gran Sasso mountain and lost in time, crystalised in the magical and evocative Abruzzo Middles Ages.

In Borminaco, a fraction of Caporciano, where the Centurelle-Montesecco sheep trail begins, there is a church, Santa Maria dei Centorelli, where shepherds and herds where blessed before the transhumance. It is no more than a chapel actually, and it stands out of the countryside like a mirage. A real jewel of art, with pre-Giottesque frescoes in it, like a miniature Cappella degli Scrovegni.

After Borminaco you arrive in Navelli, a delightful village perched on a hill. Immersed in its countryside you will find a jewel of the Renaissance period, the church of the Madonna delle Grazie.

t was built in the 16th century and to this day it still recalls its ancient function of refuge for shepherds with its essential forms and large nave. However, its the quadrangular facade decorated with a refined rose window that makes it so imposing and elegant

Here the precious saffron blooms and colours all the fields along our journey in bright red.

The presence of so many small churches and chapels along the sheep trails is not surprising because the men that traveled along these trails spent months away from their homes, and faith was a comfort to their worries and hard labour.

Besides the breathtaking landscapes and places of worship, these ancient trails lead to some of the most important archaeological sites of the Roman and pre-Roman eras.

An unmissable archaeological park is the Amiternum, an ancient Roman city where the historic Sallust was born. Here you can admire the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre, a villa with mosaics and frescoes and the foundations of an aqueduct. It is certainly the right place for a Spring holiday set in the peace of this uncontaminated nature. If, however you would like to discover a less known history, all you have to do is go to Capestrano and Ofena, where the remains of the ancient city of Aufinium have been discovered and where the famous warrior of Capestrano, the symbol of the Abruzzo region, has been found. The figure is of Nevio Pompuledio, one of the last kings of Abruzzo, armed with his sword and with a hat on his head.

We know very little of the populations that lived before Roman times and what the mountain continues to reveal is a never ending adventure. Like for example, the theatre of Ofena dug in the rock in the splendid Tirino valley.
Retracing the sheep trails is like walking through history and jumping through time and space. They reveal the deepest soul of Abruzzo made of hard work, faith and battles. A chance to discover the beauty of your holiday in Abruzzo that you absolutely cannot miss!


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