photo © Tonino Bernadelli
The Val di Canneto Near Settefrati
The Val di Canneto is situated 10 km from the town of Settefrati within the Parco Nazionale Lazio Abruzzo e Molise. The valley takes its name from an area where clumps of bamboo once flourished. Nearby is the source of the River Melfa, known as Capodacqua. From ancient times this has been a sacred mystical site and there were a series of pagan temples in this area. One was dedicated to the deity Mefitis, a goddess and personification of poisonous gases and volcanic vapours. She was said to have the power to drive out fevers, particularly those brought on by Malaria. In recent years some votive remains have been unearthed here, together with some Roman coins of the Republican era.
The beautiful Val di Canneto is reached from Settefrati along a winding panoramic road with panoramic view, that heads into the mountains. Eventually it arrives at a clearing which opens out into a wide valley at an altitude of 1147 metres. The valley is surrounded by towering peaks of the Meta mountains, and thick forests and woodlands. Here in the Spring the natural basin of the valley floor is flooded by the icy waters of the melting snow from the mountain peaks.
Since pre-Roman times Canneto was known for the presence of its iron mines. The valley leads to a mountain pass through the Meta plateau, this was an ancient transit route linking the Val di Comino and the Sangro basin in the Appenines.
As well as being a place for pilgrims to gather, the beautiful valley also attracts campers and hikers who come to enjoy the local landscape and fresh mountain air and explore the local mountain peaks and passes. Nearby, at a place named Tre Confini there is a site where the regions of Lazio, Abruzzo and Molise meet.
Woodland trails lead through the thick beech groves and you can follow the route of the young River Melfa. In an area known as “Acqua nera” there are crystal clear bubbling streams, waterfalls and cascades pools which area abundant during the winter and the spring months. In 1985 Pope Giovanni Paolo II secretly visited the valley for three days of repose and reflection, staying at the Salesian house of Don Enrico Vitti. The pope walked along many of the local paths and was photographed praying beside one of the waterfalls, which was later named after him.