photo © Lauro Apruzzese
The National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise
The Val di C0mino borders the National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise. The park was established in 1923 to protect nature and preserve wild animals from extinction. The park extends over 50,000 hectares and is encompasses 25 towns, including seven from within the Val di Comino, namely: Campoli Appenino, Alvito, San Donato, Settefrati, Picinisco, San Biagio Saracinisco and Vallerotonda. All have a beautiful backdrops of spectacular mountain scenery.
From San Donato a winding road, the SR509, climbs up towards Forca d’Acero, a distance of just 10 kms. Forca d’Acero is a high mountain valley, at a height of 1,538 metres above the sea level. This leads to a pass through the Central Appenines, connecting Lazio with Abruzzo. From ancient times this has been an important route of communication and trade connecting San Donato and the Val di Comino with the town of Opi. Historically this route was often plagued by brigands.
Forca d’Acero is known for its beautiful beech woods, which are a spectacular sight in the Autumn. In the spring the mountain meadows are full of wild flowers such as violets, crocuses, snowbells, gentians, lilies, primroses and buttercups.
From Forca d’Acero there are many hiking and mountain bike trails. It is popular as a site for hang-gliding or paragliding. The take-off site is at Tre Ponti, at an altitude of 1100 metres. The great flying conditions lead to many international events and competitions being organised here.
When it snows the mountains are a wonderful area for winter sports, with ski centres at Prati di Mezzo and Pescasseroli.
Venturing further into the mountains there are more interesting places to explore
Opi is a picturesque village which is positioned, at a height of 1,250 metres above sea level, on a rocky ridge surrounded by mountains clad in beech woods. It has become named one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. The oldest part of the village looks over a narrow gorge called the Foce, and below Opi flows the Sangro river.
Lake of Barrea
A scenic artificial lake surrounded by mountains. At the village of Barrea a huge dam holds back the water coming from the River Sangro and regulates its outflow. Beside the lake are positioned the picturesque villages of Barrea and Villetta Barrea.
Civitella Alfedena, another scenic little village of stone houses and narrow streets, built on the slopes of Monte Sterpi d’Alto at a height of 1,121 metres It has a Medieval tower. also has the a Museum of the Appenine Wolf. Near the Museum there is an enclosure of about four hectares housing some specimens of the lynx.
An important centre of the Abruzzo Lazio and Molise National Park, which houses its headquarters. It is situated in the heart of the Monti Marsicani in the Upper Sangro Valley surrounded by mountains and spectacular scenery. Pescasseroli is popular with visitors in both the summer and winter. It has a nature museum, a wildlife area, a botanical garden, and ski slopes at Monte Vitelle.