In one of his famous letters on Abruzzo identity, Ennio Flaiano defined Majella and Gran Sasso as the two most important cathedrals of Abruzzo. Today, we take you up to the pinnacle of one of our two cathedrals: Monte Amaro, the highest peak of the Majella massif.

Stones on the path of Monte Amaro

Despite being one of the most popular routes in the Apennines, the path that leads to the summit of Monte Amaro is one of the most difficult in the region.

The karst nature of the Majella massif, the long and steep hills and the frequent ups and downs on the last stretch of the path, made the Majella National Park classify this path for Expert Hikers. If you are a beginner, we suggest you not to start exploring Abruzzo’s peaks starting from Monte Amaro.

However, the first half of the path leading to Murelle amphitheatre (2430m), is also accessible to less experienced hikers. In addition, the Indro Montanelli itinerary, connecting the first two kilometres of path from the Pomilio refuge to the Block Haus, are equipped to allow access for disabled people and offer an excellent overview of the Majella National Park.

If, on the other hand, you are willing to challenge yourself, below you will find the details of the itinerary that from the Pomilio refuge leading you, from ridge to ridge, to the top of Monte Amaro.

Lunar view of the valley

From the Pomilio refuge to Monte Amaro

The appointment is at the first light of dawn on the parking lot of the Pomilio refuge (1890 m).

From here, you can follow the path marked with the letter P, which allows to reach the northern peaks of the mountain and then continues to the top of Monte Amaro.

The first stretch of the Indro Montanelli itinerary is extremely simple and panoramic. It connects the refuge with the first small peak, the so-called Blockhaus (2140m). The refuge is named after the remains of a military fort built in the second half of the 19th century, to fight the brigands hidden on the Majella.

If you have time for a small detour, on the ridge of Monte Cavallo you can visit the remains of the so-called “Table of the brigands”, a series of stone tablets on which shepherds and brigands would engrave their testimonies:

“First the 60 was the kingdom of flowers, now it is the kingdom of misery”, we read about the making of a National Unity”.

Back on the track, you can reach the ridge of Monte Cavallo: the Orfento Valley extends to your right, while the Valley of the three caves, is on the left. The landscape is green and covered with mountain pines.

groups of chamois on the rocky peaks

Nearby is the last water point, the Acquaviva fountain. Take advantage of it and fill your reserves, before starting the steeper path to Monte Amaro.

From the fountain, go up towards the Murelle amphitheater and the Fusco bivouac (2430 m). The landscape is already different:

the mountain pine valleys are now behind, and the rocks dominate the landscape.

It is not uncommon, even in the warmer months, to encounter some patches of white snow along the walk, leftovers of winter.

Inside the amphitheater, you might come across timid groups of chamois, who, regardless of your presence, roam the surroundings.

The Murelle amphitheater marks the beginning of the challenging part: from the Fusco bivouac we take the path that climbs steeply to the top of Mount Focalone (2676 m), from which we can begin to see our destination in the distance.

Do not be fooled by the perspective: you still have to go through the proverbial “three front doors”.

Beautiful view from Monte Amaro

Finally there, on top of Monte Amaro!

A series of steep ups and downs consisting of Cima Pomilio (2656 m), Monte Rotondo (2658 m) and finally a plateau from which the last climb to reach the summit of Monte Amaro, characterized by the presence of a metal cross and the bivouac Pelino (2793 m), with its characteristic red dome amid in the clouds.

The famous red dome of Monte Amaro, Abruzzo

The landscape is so alienating that you will wonder if you have not landed on the ridge of one of the moon’s craters. Do not be afraid and enjoy the view: you are still on planet Earth, balanced on the pinnacle of one of the most important cathedrals in Abruzzo.

Francesca with the kind collaboration of Luigi Vinciguerra
Toulouse, July 2019
Translated by Venusia, Oslo, October 2020
Photo © Luigi Vinciguerra
Monte Amaro

Difference in altitude: 1300mt
Walking time (one way):
5 hours
about 12,750 km
Path marks:
red and white signs “P”
Difficulty level:
Expert hikers
Best period:
End of May / beginning of September
Water points:
fountain of Sella Monte Cavallo
Refuges on the route:
Pomilio refuge (1890 m); Fusco bivouac (2430m); Pelino bivouac (2793 m)
the path crosses a purely karst area and the water points are scarce or non-existent. Have a good supply of water and adequate equipment. Consult the weather carefully before embarking on the excursion and take into account the melting of ice and snow in the spring months.