In Abruzzo you can always discover something new. After a long car drive to reach the region, we wished to spend a day in the mountain without adding a lot of additional time in the car. Starting from the Costa dei Trabocchi, we spend a day rich of surprises in Pennadomo, and surroundings.
This itinerary was done with children between 3 and 8 years old, and they enjoyed it very much. It is not suitable for strollers; however, the distances are not long.
A waterfall around the corner, but well hidden
Some time ago a blogger friend, Salvatore Marra, also an AbruzzoSmartAmbassador, posted a photo in front of an amazing waterfall carved into the rocks. A truly dream place, the kind one travels to for on holiday. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this enchanting place unknown to me is located just outside Pennadomo, and just 32 km from Lanciano, the city where I was born and raised!
Here we are at the Pennadomo gorges, a beautiful place, not signposted, but easy to access.
The transition from the road to the stony ground requires a little agility, while during the rest of the very short path you just need to avoid stepping in the clay – I had a pair of rubber sandals, so I went easily, dipping my feet in the beautiful fresh water.
It really only takes five minutes to reach this beautiful waterfall hidden in a small canyon, but I believed the place is not secured, so watch out for the possibility of falling rocks.
I let the photos and the video speak for themselves…
Pennadomo: an uphill town
After the waterfall we took the car to village, and then took a walk through the small streets of Pennadomo. Already from the main square you can see a large peak overlooking the town. On top of it we saw what appeared to be a viewpoint…
How to get there? A local gentleman replied with conviction: always go uphill, if in doubt, go right.
Following this indication, we went up through the suggestive small cobblestone streets. The town is lovely, with houses that seemed to be made for people smaller than today’s humans: low doors, wedged between the white stones. We stopped to observe several of them, until we reached a viewpoint with a Madonna, protected by the shadow of a tree.
A real safe haven for those who have climbed these steps at 11am on a sunny day in July.
From here the view is already beautiful, you can see Lake Bomba, part of the Pennadomo from above, the surrounding mountains covered with dense and green woods.
Although here it is already beautiful, you can still climb, as many as 199 stone stairs (but who built them ?!) lead to the top, high up, where the view is 360 degrees. It feels like being in the high mountains, only the sunny midday temperature reminds us that we are just over 400 meters above sea level, and only half an hour from the Costa Dei Trabocchi.
From here you can clearly see the big rock slabs that characterize Pennadomo: they look like slices of rock fallen from the sky into the woods surrounding the town, they are made of hard grey limestone. They are famous for climbing, on the cliffs called by climber Giorgio Ferretti Resegone, Resegone, Paretone, Cima Fumosa, Placche dell’Oasi. The same places they once gave refuge to brigands.
We go down to the belvedere to find some shelter from the sun, already happy with the trip: the gorges, the waterfall, the cliffs, the view, made Pennadomo a nice discovery.
An Olympus amidst the Sangro valley
The main fountain of the village gave us the additional cool refreshment we needed, but at that point our bellies began to claim some attention. One of my travel companions knew a local farmhouse by name, after a short call to be sure they could welcome us, we ventured with our car towards the Agriturismo Olimpo.
If you arrive by car from Pennadomo, be careful, the road has known much better days (if you have a very low car, it is perhaps better to get there from Villa Santa Maria). I will not dwell too much, but this place was truly an unexpected oasis:
stone cottages with a beautiful terrace and a breath-taking view of Lake Bomba and the surrounding area.
Abbiamo mangiato benissimo (e abbondante), prodotti locali ben preparati, ed abbiamo passato gran parte del pomeriggio a goderci il paesaggio.
The children enjoyed the freedom to go and discover the farm animals: chickens, donkeys, horses, rabbits, peacocks, dogs, cats, etc. All with a lot of space to grow and live (but still kept at a distance, for those who do not like too close encounters).
Some of us have also went to explore a ruin of a castle a short walk away, to facilitate digestion.
The place is so beautiful, welcoming and relaxing, that we were sad to leave it in the late afternoon. For those wishing to stay, they have rooms and even a swimming pool.
Villa Santa Maria and surroundings
Our program should have taken us to Villa Santa Maria, the home of cooks, for an afternoon of further exploration. But the children where tired (we blame them), so we only drove through it and admired it from the car in its late afternoon Abruzzo colours. We all agreed we will come back soon…
For those who wish, I recommend continuing the tour here, or in Montelapiano for another beautiful view of the valleys, or in Pietraferrazzana for another town that coexists with huge rocks, or the beautiful Colle di Mezzo, or …
Well, as you understand, the choice is large in this slice of mountain next to the sea.
A truly dream day, next to home.
Typical of Abruzzo.
Lanciano, July 2020
Translated in Oslo, October 2020
Photo © Venusia Vinciguerra, photo of the Olimpo farmhouse seen from afar by Birger G. Veum