On the edge of the Laga Mountains
The Monti della Laga is a large mountain group in the North of Abruzzo, almost attached to the Gran Sasso range from which is separated by the valley of the Vomano river, but totally different for its geological and morphological features.
The Monti Gemelli, that is the Montagna dei Fiori and the Montagna di Campli, (1676 e 1720 m.), are two characteristic summits, made of calcareous rock, at the edge of the Laga mountain range, very similar in altitude and morphology, ( 1676 and 1720 meters), separated by the famous Gole del Salinello, a canyon of wild beauty, certainly one of the most spectacular landscapes in the National Park Gran Sasso - Monti della Laga.
Leofara is a few km away from Macchia da Sole. Once in Leofara, you should not miss the opportunity of visiting this small, attractive and highly picturesque mountain village, whose origin goes back to the Middle Ages. The current buildings are prevalently nineteenth-century, with some 18th century houses in ruin; besides, on a few houses it is possible to see some peculiar structures, such as remains of "gafii" (balconies in wood, typical of northern and Longobard architecture), and a tower-house of the 16th century. There is the little church of Santa Maria, with a remarkable 18th century altar in polychrome and gilt wood.
In Leofara, a lively local Association, "l'Fere", together with the CAI of Teramo, promotes activities for the tourist and cultural improvement of the Teramo mountains. In late October every year, in Leofara, there is a famous Chestnut Festival.
The hamlet, placed on a hilltop, is half-hidden in the vegetation; actually just a few houses in stone, some with the typical "gafii" (balconies in wood); there is also a tiny church. The last inhabitants left in the early Seventies. The few families living here were mostly families of woodsmen, shepherds and chestnut farmers. The atmosphere you can breathe among these old walls is of depressing abandonment; poverty and the difficulty of working up here at last drove also the few inhabitants so fond of the place to look for a better life quality elsewhere.
However, let us continue on our way, along the path that goes out of the hamlet, and enter another chestnut forest; at a fork (m 970), we'll leave on our right a path leading to an old farmer home (Casa il Monte) and proceed straight on, until we reach a second, deserted hamlet, Settecerri. The village, in a magnificent panoramic position, also has a medieval urban structure, however it is not so typical as Laturo, since some houses have been renovated in a modern style, with horrible aesthetic results. The village is deserted, however it is clear that, occasionally, it is inhabited by the owners of some of the houses. Moreover, we also notice that Settecerri can be reached also by car, from another side.
We go back on our steps along the path followed to come up here; at the previous fork, we reach the Casa il Monte (m 1067) and then, near a small shepherds refuge, the Sorgente La Cordella (m. 1125), near which a Roman settlement was identified and several ceramic fragments dating to the times of the Roman Empire were found. From here, an easy path leads to the Colle della Croce (m 1192), and finally we'll get down to our starting point, the village of Leofara. Once reached Leofara, it is worthwhile to drive for a short visit to the small village of Vallenquina, only a few km away, along the road towards Valle Castellana. In this small hamlet there is a very beautiful medieval castle to see.
Altitude Difference: ascent, 585 meters; descent, 1170 meters.
Length: about 11 km.
Time: about 4 hours.
Bollettino del Club Alpino Italiano di Teramo.
Guide-books, maps and various brochures can be requested at the offices of the Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga, in Assergi, L'Aquila - tel. +39 (0)862-60521; Internet: gransassolagapark.it
Ugo has been a mountain-lover for decades. He has reached all the main summits in the central Appennines, has visited canyons and grottos with speleological groups; he made several ascents (both in summer and winter) of the Gran Sasso and other Appennine mountains, reached various important summits in the Alps, climbed typical "ice waterfalls", attended courses on snow science and avalanches. He is an expert of the mountain in winter, of mountaineering skiing and cross-country skiing, in which field he is vice-assistant for the CAI committee of Aquila. He is an expert of cultural routes (e.g. hermitages, tholoi etc), has made photographic research on rare and typical animals of Abruzzo (bear, griffon, chamois, eagle) and on typical flora. For the future he is planning trekking excursions outside Europe.