Hike Gran Sasso

Gran Sasso ‘Large Rock’ in Italian accurately describes this region. The Gran Sasso National Park is home to the second largest mountain range in Italy, beaten only by the Alps.

Your two centre holiday starts in the typically rural Italian Caramanico Terme where many walks focus around the Majella and Gran Sasso National Parks and its high-altitude peaks of Monte Morrone and the impressive Voltigo Valley.

Rocca Calascio, your second centre offers rustic charm under the watchful and oddly securing gaze of the town’s mountain fortress perched high above. Along our walks the region offers possibilities to spot chamois, fox, golden eagles and if you are lucky the possibility of the Apennine wolf and bear.


Day 1 – You will fly into Rome’s Fiumicino Airport and transfer 2 ½ hours by road to the spa town of Caraminico Terme, deep in Majella National Park in the heart of the Apennines.

Day 2 –  Start the day at the Bruno Pomilio mountain hut at Maielleta in the heart of the Majelleta National Park. At 1950m this allows us to begin the walk high up. From here our high-level ridge walk offers outstanding views of the Adriatic coast. On a clear day you can see all the way from Ancona in the north to the Gargano peninsula in Puglia. Looking west you can see where our walks on other days will take us. Initially the ridge is broad and grassy, with low mountain pine bushes. There are several peaks on the way; just past Monte Cavallo (2171m) we come to the Tavola dei Briganti. 200 years ago the brigands left engraved words and symbols describing their lives and beliefs. As we climb towards Monte Focalone the vegetation dies out as we enter the high-level world of rock and vast mountain landscapes.

Day 3 –

This is a half day walk through a limestone gorge where wild flowers will be in abundance, particularly in spring.  There are three bridging points to the river in the gorge and the walk goes out on the south side and returns on the north.  The walk starts near the Majella Park information centre allowing us to explore the centre for 15-30 minutes before setting off.  There is also an Otter sanctuary where they are preparing to re-introduce otters to the valley.

Back in Caramancio Terme you will have some time to independently explore the town.  Later in the afternoon you will go for a second shorter walk to visit the hermitage of Santo Bartolomeo, a church constructed in a cave half way up the walls of a limestone gorge a short distance north of Orfano. The Abruzzese Pope, Celestino V, was a hermit here between 1274-1274 and rebuilt the church in the late C13th before he rejected and resigned as pontiff as a protest against the corruption in the church.

Day 4 – Your final day in the Majella National Park starts at Passo San Leonardo at just under 1300m. From here we climb to Monte Mileto, then follow a high level broad grassy ridge to the Rifugio Capoposto. On the way we pass ice houses and in the high pasture near the mountain hut wild Apennine spinach grows. The return route cuts back through beech forests to the Passo San Leonardo.

Day 5 –

On the way to your second centre on the slopes of the Gran Sasso, walk in the impressive Voltigno valley between beech trees and across a karst plateau. The valley lies at some 1500m, a broad grassy plateau edged by forest. You will also get our first view of the vast high-level plateau of Campo Imperatore and be able to see across to the high mountains of the Grand Sasso. This is yet another area rich in wild flowers.

You continue to Rocca Calascio at 1464m, undoubtedly one of the most spectacularly situated and remarkable places in which you will ever stay.

Day 6 – Today you’ll walk on the slopes of Monte Camicia, reaching the viewpoint on the summit of Monte Tremoggia to see Camicia’s north face rising 1200m almost vertically above the valley, giving it the nickname of the Eiger of the Apennines. You are likely to see swathes of stella alpina (Apennine edelweiss) and herds of chamois.  Your walk starts and ends on the Campo Imperatore but on your return we will call at the mountain village of Castel del Monte (1300m), an ancient settlement whose houses have been built shoulder to shoulder around the hillside. There are no doors on the outside, just five gates that let you into the central part of the town.  The village also has a local museum which portrays the story of transhumance between the mountains and Puglia.

Day 7 – Seasonal local conditions will determine which walk you will do today. Corno Grande is the highest peak in the Apennines. This walk starts at the Albergo Campo Imperatore at 2138m. As you ascend the west peak (highest) ‘Occidentale’; you can look along the knife edge ridge to the lesser 2903m east peak ‘Orientale’ a kilometre away. There is also a wonderful view north into the glacial bowl which contains the most southerly glacier in Europe and Corno Piccolo (2655m) beyond.   This is a high level, rough mountain walk with short sections of scrambling.

Day 8 – We lave Rocca Calascio after breakfast and make our way back to Rome (FCO) for our return flight to the UK

Departure dates and cost per person:

30th May 2020 – from £1,499

13th June 2020 – from £1,499

12th September 2020 – from £1,499