Wednesday, 5 November 2014

ROSEHIP SYRUP


A LITTLE BIT OF SWEET WINTER GOODNESS





Rosehips, glorious colour at a time when all is beginning to fade and die.  Rosehip syrup, glorious sweet nectar with oodles of vitamin C for the cold days, long nights, snotty noses and rasping throats.

Dollop it on your breakfast porridge or baked rice pudding, drizzle it over ice-cream, stir it into yoghurt.  Add a spoonful to a cup of hot lemon juice or into your favourite smoothie.

Forget about the sugar content, we all need a bit of something naughty every now and then.  That's what winters are made for.


What you need:


1kg rosehips
1.25 litres water
325g sugar for each 500ml of juice

Doubled up muslin for straining (or two stockings, or anything you have lying around that you can make into a straining bag - I use an old net curtain, folded over twice with a piece of twine sewn round the edge that pulls it into a drawstring bag.  Perfect as it can be rinsed out and re-used).


Easy to make straining bag


What you do:


1.  Sterilise your containers.
2.  Roughly chop the rosehips - use an electric chopper if you can - put in a saucepan
3.  Add the water to the rosehips, bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes
4.  Pour the mixture into your straining bag suspended over a bowl and leave for at least 30 minutes
5.  Squash down the pulp to get out every last drop of the rosehip goodness

6.  Measure your juice, put in a saucepan with 325g of sugar for every 500ml of juice extracted
7.  Stir well and bring slowly to the boil, gradually allowing the sugar to dissolve
8.  Boil well for 3 - 4 minutes, skimming off any scum
9.  Pour straight into your prepared jars, store and enjoy







* Recipe comes via River Cottage

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

L'Aneme de le Morte, Serramonacesca


HALLOWEEN. ALL HALLOWS' EVE.  ALL SOULS.  ALL SAINTS


Halloween, a festival that grew up in tandem honouring the dead and celebrating the saints and the martyrs is a classic example not only of the merging of Christian and Pagan rituals, but also basic agricultural need and the seeping in of superstitious beliefs.  It's the time of year when summer comes to an end and all around is cold, dark, brown and dead.  The nights are getting longer, there’s a chill in the air, winter is looming and everything is lying dormant.  


The winter woods of Serramonacesca


Winter is traditionally a season of hardship and hunger with more people perishing at this time than any other, making it the perfect recipe for superstitious beliefs that evil forces have been let loose on the earth to arise.  According to the Pagans, this is the time when the veil between our world and the spirit realm has become thin, the perfect time to reconnect with our ancestors and to honour those who have died.  

It comes as no surprise that in Abruzzo, a land full of legends, beliefs, fables and stories, this curious interaction between Christianity and Paganism, nature and superstition, is still strong and surviving.  Abruzzo is also a land where harsh winters can whip through the mountains and the old ways of living still guide daily life.  Many still rely on their warmth and food over the winter in much the same way as they have done for generations.  


Serramonacesca


None more so at this time of year than in Serramonacesca where the festival of L'Aneme de le Morte (the Souls of the Dead) is one of the most important festivals of the year for the villagers, attracting visitors from all over Italy and beyond.

L’Aneme de le Morte, aims to be a humble contribution to the rediscovery of the cultural roots of the village as a means of safeguarding the tradition for the new generations.  I have been bowled over time and again by the strength of feeling amongst the villagers (young and old alike) that this festival should simply not become a faded memory overwhelmed by today’s more popular Halloween pranks and parties.  And, my goodness, it is certainly succeeding!  


An impromptu knees-up by the pizze frette girls!


Over the two days of the festival, the historic centre of the village is taken over by the festival with the narrow alley ways and streets being lit by the old flaming torches.  


The alleyways of Serra lit by torches


The vaulted cellars of the old houses, complete with open fires, low ceilings and meat hooks, become cosy corners for tastings of mulled wine, speciality beers, cooked meats and traditional sweets. 




 The little piazza have warming bonfires with chestnuts roasting over, there’s street theatre, street food, folk music and a “battle of the bands” amongst the traditional Abruzzesi musicians.  





The pumpkin carving competition has to be seen to be believed with some of the most elaborate pumpkins I have ever seen.  It's a great two days, and well worth the visit.  





PROGRAMME


Friday 31 October

19.00: Opening of the Festival 
21.00: The Cungreghe of the canture:  the performance of invited groups of Abruzzo music, singing and dancing around the festa and around the fire, including the Zampogne (bagpipes) of Abruzo
22.30: “Du botte... la gare”:  play-off for the best accordionist of the festa with a ham as the first prize! 

Saturday 1 November 

14.00: “Lu Cane Pastore”:   meeting of the Abruzzo shepherds and their dogs
15.00: “Pe le ruve a sentì le fattarelle”:  street artists, story tellers and entertainment for the little ones (and big ones) with traditions, fairy tales, legends and witchcraft through the streets of the historic centre of the village 
17.30: “La checocce chiò belle”:   competition for the most beautiful pumpkin. Five judges will give a score between 6 and 10 the best carved “pumpkin of the dead" (always lit with a candle inside). 
19.00: Opening of the Festival
22.00: Taraf de Gadjo Tzigana, klezmer, gypsy jazz




The festival has been entered for the best event 2014 with Italive - you can place your vote at the bottom of the page:  http://www.italive.it/evento/8519/l-aneme-de-le-mort---sagra-della-zucca


Saturday, 25 October 2014

Waiting for winter...


TOO IMPATIENT FOR SNOW.

Thursday  it arrived, a month early it came
Summer was banished, autumn was missed
Snow on the tops, white peaks in the clouds
Only October, but winter was kissed 



Fires were lit, excitement abound,


Memories of last year came to the fore,


So the weekend arrived & snowshoes were loaded.
Wooly hats and hot pastries, couldn’t ask for more.

But we got to the top, a little premature


The clouds were down, the snow barely there
Walked in the woods, slushed in the snow



To finish with hot chocolate and grappa's only fair.



BRING ON THE WINTER!!!!





Wednesday, 8 October 2014

THE SPIRITUAL TRAIL: a journey through time and wilderness

THE SPIRITUAL TRAIL 
MAJELLA MOUNTAINS, ABRUZZO, ITALY

Serramonacesca - Sulmona
85km from 400m to 2000m asl



A growing curiosity into the ley line of the St Michael/Apollo axis that crosses Abruzzo as it travels between Ireland and Greece, sparked more than a passing interest in the lives and paths of the Celestine monks of the thirteenth century.  Call it what you will: a ley line, the “path of light”, or simply the trail of pilgrims and shepherds as they chart their wanderings by the constellations of the stars, the connections between the hermits of the Maiella and the “path of light” were enough to fuel that curiosity, pack enough kit for four days and take off in their footsteps along the Spiritual Trail over the mountains of the Majella National Park.

The Majella

An intensely spiritual place, the Majella (pronounced, and often spelled, Maiella) is within the south-central Italian region of Abruzzo.  Abruzzo, isolated for centuries because of its formidable natural defences, is the heartland of the Apennines mountains and the most completely mountainous region of Italy.  


The Majella has been called, in equal measure, the “Sacred Mountain” and the “Mother Majella”, names that conjure up pictures of a quiet magic yet hides its reputation as a hostile wilderness with fierce winters and unforgiving terrain.  

According to legend, the Majella was formed when Maya, the Goddess of the Earth, came to its peaks seeking a special herb to heal her sick son, but she failed to reach the top before he died.  Dying in deep sorrow, her heart broken for her loss, Maya reappeared in the unique form of the rounded Majella, the sleeping beauty of Abruzzo, that rises up quickly from lowland to mountain top.

To call the Mother Maiella a mountain oversimplifies it.  The Majella is a fantastically complex clustering of 61 peaks of over 2000m, and 75 lower lying hills.  Its whale-like shape is not easily understood from afar as her peaks remain largely hidden and her aspect constantly changes with the light and the seasons.  

Variously and simultaneously considered imposing, unpredictable and uninhabitable, the Majella ultimately retains an aura of phenomenal beauty, space and peace, capable of making your heart swell and soar over and over again.  But is it simply her beauty, high peaks, spectacular gorges and fascinating labyrinth of limestone caves that has drawn hermits, pilgrims and travellers for centuries?  Or is there something else, something more?  A magnetic force, an energy, a ley line, that pulled them all in?  

The Spiritual Trail


The Spiritual Trail crosses the wilderness of the Majella and the Majella Morrone for 85km from the small village of Serramonacesca (“the land of the monks”) on the north-eastern slopes, to the historical town of Sulmona on the mid-western side.  

It is an ancient trail linking the key Celestine hermitages (eremi) of the Majella, some are still nothing more than simple caves with a bed and altar chipped out of the stone, others like the eremo Santo Spirito have, from around the XII century, become elaborate structures built into the rock of the deep gorges.  

The trail starts and finishes at an elevation of around 400m asl, but throughout it’s 85km length you will scale three major peaks, the highest at just over 2000m asl, and steeply descend into the gorges of two spectacular valleys.  

You will follow the tumbling waters of mountain rivers, wander amongst wolves and bears of the forests and walk amongst wild horses on the high plains.  Throughout your journey the views are breathtaking and you will barely see another soul.  


Your accommodation will be a combination of wild camping in your own tent, sleeping in a rifugio (below) and, should you wish it, a bit of luxury in a B&B as you overnight in the spa town of Caraminico. 



THE ROUTE


We chose to go from east to west, starting from Serramonacesca and finishing in Sulmona, for the simple reason that it was far easier for us to get back to Serramonacesca from Sulmona, rather than the other way round.  

How to get to Serramonacesca:  Ryan Air (http://www.ryanair.com) has regular flights to Pescara which is only 30km from Serramonacesca.  Buses and trains run from Pescara to Chieti Scalo:  Arpa (http://www.arpaonline.it) for buses, Trenitalia (http://www.trenitalia.com) for trains.  

Arpa buses run twice daily from Chieti Scalo to Serramonacesca, timetables can be viewed online from Arpa as above.  

If its easier for you to fly into Rome, buses between Rome Tiburtina and Chieti Scalo run throughout the day, take only 2.5 hours and cost around 15€.  Again, see Arpa for timetables.

If you stay at Kokopelli Camping in Serramonacesca (see below), they will do transfers from Pescara (35€) or Chieti Scalo (25€).

Where to stay in Serramonacesca:  

Kokopelli Camping, just off the Spiritual Trail, has excellent facilities for camping and also has rooms available and bell tents for hire (www.kokopellicamping.co.uk); Ostello San Liberatore in the heart of Serramonacesca village, has bunk style accommodation (http://www.ostellosanliberatore.com).  For a B&B there is Le Pietre Ricce in nearby Roccamontepiano which is an hour’s walk across the hills from the start of the trail (www.lepietrericce.it).

Day 1, Serramonacesca to Roccamorice

20km, 400 - 950m asl (1097m ascent, 682m descent)

Monasteries, hermitages & caves:  Abbazia di San Liberatore, Eremo di San Onofrio (opposite), Grotta San Angelo
Terrain:  Beech woods, open plains & gorges
Water points:  Fonte San Onofrio, Fosso San Angelo
Where to stay:  B&B Santo Spirito Roccamorice (http://montabruzzo.abruzzen-online.de) is immediately on the Spiritual Trail just above the Eremo San Bartolomeo.  Alternatively, extend your day an extra 5km and wild camp in the woods beyond the eremo.


Day 2, Roccamorice to Rifugio di Marco
20km, 820 - 1700m asl (1370m ascent, 610m descent)


Monasteries, hermitages & caves:  eremi San Bartolomeo (above), Santo Spirito and San Giovanni
Terrain:  Beech woods, rivers & gorges
Water points:  Fonte at Santo Spirito, fosso Santo Spirito, Fonte Centiate (signed en route to rifugio di Marco
Where to stay:  Rifugio di Marco


Day 3, Rifugio di Marco to Caramanico Terme
12km, 1700 - 600m asl (210m ascent, 1273m descent)

Monasteries, hermitages & caves:  eremo San Onofrio, Orfento valley
Terrain:  Woods, rivers and gorges
Water points:  Orfento river

Where to stay:  Caramanico Terme (opposite) is a reasonable sized town with accommodation ranging from a luxury thermal spa to camping and hostels.  

The following can be recommended:  camping & hostel type accommodation at Casa del Lupo (www.majambiente.it), which is also a key visitor centre to the Park, B&B Antico Borgo in the historic centre (http://www.anticoborgobb.it)


Day 4, Caramanico Terme to Eremo San Pietro
18km, 450 - 2000m asl (1700m ascent, 670m descent)

Ascending Monte Morrone

Monasteries, hermitages & caves:  eremo San Pietro
Terrain:  woods, open plains, mountain summit, gorges
Water points: village of San Vittorino, fonte della casetta in the woods just before eremo San Pietro
Where to stay:  wild camp in the woods close to the water source of fonte della casetta just before reaching San Pietro


Day 5, Eremo San Pietro to Badia Morronese, Sulmona
15km, 1400 - 400m asl (370m ascent, 1340m descent)


Monasteries, hermitages & caves:  eremi San Pietro (above) and San Onofrio, Badia Morronese
Terrain:  woods and tracks
Water points:  Sulmona

Travel from Sulmona back to Serramonacesca:  trains between Sulmona and Chieti run regularly throughout the day for around 5€ per person.  The train station is a 7km walk from the Badia Morronese, a point worth remembering before you have your second celebratory beer at the little bar next to the monastery!


FURTHER DETAIL


Maps

The official map of the Park in scale 1:50,000 can be purchased at any of the visitor centres of the Park or online at http://www.majambiente.it/Carta-dei-sentieri.htm

An interactive online version of the map can be viewed on the Park website:  http://www.parks.it/parco.nazionale.majella/Emap.php 

A more detailed hiking map (1:25,000) can be purchased online from Edizioni il Lupo: http://eshop.edizioniillupo.it/store/product_info.php?products_id=1124

For sat nav devices, there is the Trek Mappa Italia from Garmin, which although costly at around €180 does cover all the main hiking regions of Italy, including the Majella.  This can be purchased from the Garmin site at https://buy.garmin.com/en-GB/GB/maps/on-the-trail-maps/topo-pro/trekmap-italia-v3-pro/prod113579.html

For a cheaper option, an excellent digital map of the Majella, compatible with Garmin devices, can be purchased for around €60 from Digital Walking Maps at http://digitalwalkingmaps.eu/South_italy_map/south_italy_map.html#majella2 


How long to take

Although we completed the trail in 4 days and 3 nights, to fully appreciate the scenery, the villages you pass and, of course, the eremi themselves, we do recommend taking longer.  

The eremi are fascinating structures.  Some, such as Santo Spirito (opposite), are quite elaborate and warrant at least an hour or two wandering the labyrinth of corridors, cells and rooms.  

Others, such as San Giovanni (opposite), are tricky to get to as they are hidden within steep, rocky gorges with narrow approaches requiring sure-footedness and a head for heights.  Five days and four nights would be ideal.

When to do it

Winters on the Majella can be harsh and much of the route will be snow bound between November and March.  Although much of the route is in the dappled shade of the woods, a lot is on open plains.  August, when temperatures can easily reach 30 - 40 degrees celsius, will be far too hot to make the route comfortable.  You will also need more water, which will mean carrying extra weight in already heavy packs as the water points are, at times, far apart.  Early spring, March and April, is a beautiful time with the hills finally shaking off the weight of winter and everything is bursting into glorious life.  However, it can be wet at this time.  

The optimum time, therefore, for taking the trail is either May, June, early July, September and October.  We chose the last week of September and this was just perfect.


B&Bs, wild camping & rifugio (mountain huts) in the Majella

So long as you’re sensitive as to where you stay, and leave without a trace in the morning, you can pitch up along the route.  Be aware, however, that you will be sharing your space with the wildlife of the Majella, which does include wolves and bears, so keep your food and rubbish away.  With so many nocturnal animals, nights can be noisy!  

Wild camping on the Morrone, next to the rifugio Laccio Rosso

There are a number of rifugio along the way where you are more than welcome to stay.  Most have fireplaces and a table and chairs.  Some have a store of wood, but generally you will have to collect your own.  Some have basic bunks for sleeping, but be prepared to bed down on the floor (or pitch your tent outside).  Any mattresses are best avoided or you may find your sleeping bag becomes host to a number of itchy visitors who will be reluctant to leave!

If you’d rather break your journey with the luxury of a hotel or B&B, you will pass close to the small village of Roccamorice and go throughout the spa town of Caramanico Terme. 


Water

There are a number of drinking fountains (fonte) along the route utilising mountain springs, these are perfectly safe to drink.  Indeed some, such as the waters at San Onofrio in Serramonacesca, are said to have health giving benefits.  These are often marked on the map as “fonte”, or with a sign post directing the way.  

The Orfento Valley, Caramanico

The waters from the tumbling streams that you will cross are clean and fresh.  We are happy to drink directly from these, and have done so many times, but, to be safe, you may want to add a purifying tablet.

As you will be collecting and carrying your water, it is recommended that you take two x 2-3 litre water bladders.  You will need water for cooking as well as drinking.  The route involves long climbs in places, so don’t underestimate the amount you will need to drink.


THE HISTORY BEHIND THE TRAIL


The Hermits and the Celestine Monks

My journeys of ley line research along the St Michael/Apollo axis have taken me not only to the hermits, but to dragons, myths & legends, Knights Templars, pagans and archangels.  Knights Templars and pagan worship I have found in the Majella, myths and legends a plenty.  As critical as the Archangel St Michael is to the theory of ley lines, I shall park him for now.  

Statue of the Archangel St Michael in the Grotta San Angelo, that can be found
on the Spiritual Trail as it passes Lettomanoppello

The hermits, on the other hand, being better documented, particularly Peter of the Morrone who, for the simple reason that he was to become Pope Celestine V and the founding father of the religious order of the Celestine monks, I could follow, both literally across the Spiritual Trail of the Majella and through the written history of his life.  

To fully understand the phenomenon of the hermits, we start our journey in the 4th or 5th century with San Onofrio (or Onophrius), of which three of the Majella hermitages are dedicated.  Onophrius lived at the time when Christianity was emerging as the dominant faith of the Roman Empire, a period when many Christians were inspired to live a life of solitude in prayer and penance for the love of God.  

Onophrius lived his hermit life for 70 years, dwelling in the harsh environment of the desert of Upper Egypt dressed in nothing but his long hair and a loin cloth of leaves, the figure that you see in the eremo in Serramonacesca (opposite). 

Word of the way of life of Onuphrius spread across the Middle East, Eastern and Western Europe, where many churches and monasteries have been built in his honour.  The long list where he is depicted, amongst many others, include Poland, Russia, Jerusalem, Germany, Turkey and, of course, Italy and the Majella.  His feast day is marked on June 12, the date of his death, which is celebrated every year in the Majella village of Serramonacesca where we begin our travels.

From the life of San Onofrio, we jump about 700 years to the 13th Century and the life of the hermit, Pietro (or Peter) of the Morrone.  Born in 1215 to a poor and humble family in Sant’Angelo Limosano in neighbouring Molise, Pietro became a Benedictine monk in his late adolescence, but left the monastery in his early 20s to pursue life as a hermit in a cave on Mont Morrone of the Majella.  He led a pious life, fasting every day apart from Sunday, wearing a haircloth shirt roughened with knots and a chain of iron around his emaciated frame.  His entire day, and much of his night, was dedicated to prayer and labour.  

Pietro’s life of solitude was not to last.  As news of his saintly piety spread, others tried to follow him and imitate his rule of life.  Pietro withdrew to a deeper, wilder and more inaccessible cave of the Majella (Eremo di San Giovanni), but a community of fellow hermits still developed on the Majella that grew incessantly.  By the time of his death in 1296 he had established the religious order of the Celestine monks, with 600 Celestini and 36 monasteries.

The late 1200s was a battlefield of religious and political controversy with France, England, the Spanish Aragon and the reigning Popes in bitter conflict.  It was into this turmoil that Pietro, in the latter years of his life, was thrown.  In 1292 the reigning Pope Nicholas IV died and the feuds amongst infighting cardinals and their clans meant that more than two years passed with the conclave being unable to agree on the succeeding Pope.  

After a two year impasse, the unrest between the rival factions became more serious and the legitimate election of a new Pope became more urgent.  It was amongst this chaos that the powerful Cardinal Orsini reported that God had told him to elevate a pious hermit to the papacy, or face divine chastisement.  This proposition was seized upon by the exhausted conclave and the election was made unanimous.  Who better to control and manipulate, thought the Cardinals, but “an aged, simple and almost illiterate Benedictine hermit?”

Eremo San Pietro, Majella Morrone
Pietro, now aged 79, reluctantly left his beloved Majella and, with tears in his eyes, accepted the decision and became Pope Celestine V, reasoning that it was the will of God.  He was crowned not in Rome but in his familiar church of Santa Maria Collemaggio in Aquila within Abruzzo, a church that he had had constructed many years before when inspired by a dream that the Virgin Mary had asked him to build a church on that spot. 

He was, however, a weak and ineffectual Pope within a power-laden ecclesiastical system and made many serious mistakes in the five short months of his papacy.  Eventually he expressed a wish to resign and, possibly manipulated by the wily canon lawyer Cardinal Caetani (who was later to succeed Celestine V as the next Pope, Boniface VIII), effected his resignation, donned his hermit’s garb and retraced his steps back to the solitude of the depths of the Majella.  The legitamacy of his resignation was challenged and Boniface issued orders that he be “detained”.  Celestine escaped capture within the Majella for several months before attempting to flee to Greece with the help of his friends and compatriots.  He was finally captured at the foot of Mount Gargano in Puglia, southern Italy and delivered into the hands of Boniface VIII who confined the old man to a dank and dark cell in the castle of Fumone near Anagni.  Celestine died here, in his 81st year.  

In 1313 San Pietro was canonised and his remains were transferred to the church of Santa Maria Collemaggio in Aquilla, where they remain to this day despite the Basilica (as it is now) being severely damaged by the earthquake of 2009.  San Pietro’s remains miraculously survived.

Understood in the context of all that has gone before, The Spiritual Trail becomes far more than simply another multi-day hike, albeit amongst spectacular scenery.  It is a journey through time and history that you cannot fail to feel deeply, becoming completely absorbed and in awe.

Wild camping on the Majella Morrone



THE MAJELLA, WITH KEY POINTS ALONG THE SPIRITUAL TRAIL HIGHLIGHTED





Feel free to email or call if you'd like further information, or would like help in planning your trip:  

Cell:    +39 333 4636075

You can also download this article, with the details of the Spiritual Trail from:  https://www.scribd.com/doc/242252071/The-Spiritual-Trail-Majella-Mountains-Abruzzo-Italy




Saturday, 16 August 2014

SEPTEMBER HOLIDAY? OR OCTOBER?



Calling all hikers, bikers, climbers, runners, or any sort of outdoor nature lover really


It's September, and do you know what happens in September?

Nothing, absolutely nothing.  And it's a tragedy.

Well, not exactly nothing, a few wise people come, but not many.  And that is the tragedy.  


September here in Abruzzo, and the whole of the autumn for that matter, is arguably the best time in the whole calendar year for outdoor people to explore off the beaten track.  

For late summer sun, warm enough for lazy days on the beach, or cool enough for hiking the endless trails of the wilderness that is the Majella National Park, there can be no better place to come in all of Europe.  



And we're here to guide you.  We're open all year, we have rooms available, we have gorgeous canvas bell tents cosy enough to take you through the cooler autumn months, we have stacks of information to get you out there and up into the hills and mountains.  We have equipment and guide books for climbers, we have Majella maps and our own hiking guides for hikers and walkers, we have mountain bikes you can use, and all the camping equipment you could ever need if you want to travel cheap and light - all you need bring is your tent and sleeping bag, we provide the rest.

Need any more persuasion to take your late holiday with us here in Abruzzo?


Here's our offer to all you outdoor and active nature lovers:

Email us with the dates you want to book, attach a photo of you being active in the great outdoors and we'll give you a 10% discount for September or October.

And there's more...

Because we know that you, like everyone else, will absolutely want to come back, we'll put all the photos into a popularity contest for a free, yes, free, holiday next year.  Any time you like, in one of our rooms or bell tents, for up to one week in 2015.

And there's more...




For everyone who comes, so confident are we of the wilderness in which we live that, for all those who hike all day long following one of our self-guided hikes and not see a soul, there's a bottle of superb Abruzzo wine at the end of it for you.

Boom boom.

What are you waiting for?

Here's where you can find out more:

Website
Cool Camping
Trip Advisor
Facebook
Google+
Instagram
Twitter

Go on, send us an email...
     you know you want to ;-) 

jaqs@kokopellicamping.co.uk

Sunday, 6 July 2014

DO I NEED A CAR?


"Do I need a car?"



Ah.  That simple question, asked a million times, but without a simple answer.

Depends.





Depends on lots.  But depends mainly on the type of traveller you are and what you're looking for in a holiday.

To begin with a few facts:




Serramonacesca


We are 2.5km from Serramonacesca.  Easy walking distance, until you bring our hill into the equation; it's a 200m climb back up.  I love the walk, as do many others, but some will only do it once.

Serramonacesca, her hills & views
Castel Menardo in the foreground, sea on the horizon, 
Kokopelli Camping just out of view bottom right


Evening walk into the village


You see lots of things along the way: plants for foraging in the hedgerows, wild flowers, lizards , butterflies, snakes.  Yes, really.  And, my goodness, do they make you jump.  Most of the time, however, completely harmless, but not for the squeamish.

There are buzzards calling, oriels singing, mistle thrush, redstarts, and hoopoes to name but a few.



Smiley :-) 
You'll most likely be joined by Smiley, the local character who will love your company.  You won't go far without a nod, a smile and a "buongiorno" from people sweeping their steps, tending their gardens or hanging out their washing, and the chances are you won't even need to walk.



Offers of lifts from passers-by will be many.  In fact, so insistent can they be that it's often easier to graciously accept than to explain that you do, actually, really, strangely enough, want to walk.

Local produce
Once in Serra, all your needs can be catered for.  So long as you shop like a local.

There are two small shops, limited in choice but, thankfully, a world away from a supermarket.

There is a butcher and a pharmacist, two restaurants, two bars, two gelateria and a fattoria where their own cheeses and arrosticini are produced from their own goats and sheep that you'll see grazing the hills with the shepherd and his dogs.

Cheeses & yoghurts from the Cheese Man
There's a vegetable seller in the piazza twice a week, a fish man who does the rounds on a Tuesday, a vegetable van that visits the campsite every Thursday, as well as the cheese man who comes on a Friday with home made yoghurts and far too tasty ricotta, pecorino and mozzarella.  So, yes, you can do very nicely indeed.

If you shop like a local and travel slow.


The Beach


A half hour's drive.  So, yes, if you fancy a day on the beach you need a car.  There are buses, they go from Serra into Pescara and back 2-3 times a day.  Early morning (6.30am), early afternoon and evening.  They take a while, they go round all the villages, you won't go anywhere fast, but you can get to the beach.  And back.  But it can be tedious.

Our beautiful river, the Alento,
it's source bubbling out of the mountains in Serramonacesca


Or, you can just take a blanket and a book, walk for half an hour or so, and go and sit by the river.




Sightseeing


If travelling around from village to village, town to town, castle to castle takes your fancy, you could feel a little restricted without a car.

Unless...

If you're a slow traveller and just want to absorb what is around you, really feel it, really experience it, get to know those who know it best, then, no, you don't need a car.  Within walking distance (for seasoned hikers and the hardy) we do have some of the most beautiful places and buildings in Abruzzo here in Serramonacesca, so long as you're happy to just explore what's on your doorstep and not venture further.



The Abbey of San Liberatore a Maiella


The Abbey of San Liberatore a Maiella
The Hermitage of San Onofrio
The Hermitage of San Onofrio

But what if you fall somewhere in between?


If you're happy to explore and get to know what's close to you, but wouldn't mind venturing further every now and then, here's what we can do to help, just a few of the little Kokopelli extras:


Drop you off, pick you up, take you out



Local markets
We're frequently out and about shopping in the local markets and towns, we go hiking, we go to the beach, we explore the higher mountain peaks, we'll go to a restaurant in the evening or just for a pizza or a party.

Anyone is welcome to hitch a ride.


Lend you a bike

We have mountain bikes that you're free to use, just pack up a picnic, hop on and pedal away.


Let you use our Vespa





Our little baby.  The essential part of slow Italian life, and fairly groovy too.  Think Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.  Roman Holiday

For just €40 a day you can take off, with the wind in your hair, the sun on your back, and live the Italian dream.  Even if for just a day.


So there you have it.



Do you need a car?   Entirely depends on you.



www.slowtourismclub.eu