29 Oct

Who Needs Another Article About Capestrano (AQ), Abruzzo?

Apart from all the official and quasi-official websites that talk about Abruzzo I know of three Abruzzo related blogs that have devoted at least one post each to the town of Capestrano (AQ). In order of my discovering them they are:

There may be more out there, but these are the posts I found when I went looking for more information about this perfectly positioned town in the L’Aquila province of Abruzzo.

With so much written about Capestrano, before I started typing I did ask myself what could I possibly write that these excellent bloggers haven’t written already. The main points of interest will be the same, or similar, the history of the town should be the same or similar and the likelihood of enjoying some exploration of a town which has the most wonderful views of the Tirino Valley again is likely to be similar.

So why would I write an article that contributes to an already fine selection of posts?

The only answer I can give is to try to encourage you to go there and see the town for yourself. No matter what I write and how well I write it, reading will be no substitute for you making the effort to travel to the edge of the Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga and visiting Capestrano itself.

Light and colour changes with the seasons and the weather and although you’ll be unlikely to get the exact combination of sun and cloud that I did when I visited, these photographs will give you an idea of what you’ll discover.

But they don’t really do the place justice. Capestrano is more than the town itself. It’s a purified atmosphere that is generated while looking down and surveying the valleys below. It is a connection you feel with medieval society as you wander around the castle walls. It is a sense of place.

I first heard of Capestrano on reading about the symbol of Abruzzo, Il Guerriero di Capestrano (The Warrior of Capestrano) and how it was discovered in 1934 when a farmer was out tilling his vineyard.  I tried to see the statue in Chieti but it was not on show when I visited the Museo Nazionale d’Abruzzo. No matter, I’m happy to try again.

Capestrano next entered my field of vision when I took a bus from Pescara to L’Aquila in 2008. The bus didn’t take a direct route and stopped for passengers in the town. It was a quick stop but the journey to and from the town left me in no doubt of what a wonderful place it was to visit.

Then back in April I read the The town of Capestrano, Abruzzo by Nora of Enchanting Italy and I determined that 2010 wasn’t going to pass without my visiting. After commenting on Nora’s post she encouraged me to see Capestrano, possibly taking in Cocullo as well. I never made it to Cocullo, and with quite a few other distractions I almost didn’t make it to Capestrano this year. That’s the wonderful thing about Abruzzo, there are just so many places that are worth taking the time to visit and it’s hard to fit them all in. A nice complaint I think.

But the visit did happen. Yes it only happened because a group of us were going somewhere else, to Bominaco about 30 minutes from Capestrano. I’ll tell you more about the visit to Bominaco later (most likely in my next post) but let’s stick with Capestrano for now.

Once you arrive, having already seen it from a distance you are greeted with a very open square with the imposing Piccolomini Castle at one end. All I did in Capestrano was drink coffee in the Piazza del Mercato, explore the Piccolomini Castle and marvel at the panoramic views. Let’s face it that’s the great thing about towns you see high up as you approach them from a valley, you’re gonna see a lot of country once you reach them.

I think I only spent two hours in the town. Considering we set out with the purpose of visiting somewhere else I think that’s not bad going. I didn’t have time to visit the church of San Pietro ad Oratorium. One of our group is a church lover. She likes to see church architecture, church art, the tiled floors and immerse herself in the history of the buildings. I like that too but I’m really a one church a day man and as we were hoping to visit a church in Bominaco I was glad to have missed San Pietro ad Oratorium this time. I’ll just have to come back again.

By the way, if exploring towns and villages is something you like doing how about this little route:

Capestrano – Rocca Calascio – Santo Stefano di Sessanio – Castel del Monte – Farindola

According to Google the entire journey time is about 90 minutes (I think it would be closer to 2 hours), build in a couple hours for each town, and a couple of hours for a few stops to enjoy the Campo Imperatore on the Castel del Monte – Farindola stretch and you have a good day excursion. Actually that might be too much to cram into one trip (you really shouldn’t cram in Abruzzo) so maybe leave Castel del Monte, Campo Imperatore and Farindola for another day and just focus on Capestrano, Rocca Calascio, and Santo Stefano di Sessanio. All well worth a visit.

OK I’ve reached the end of my post and I’m not sure I’ve succeeded in persuading you to visit Capestrano. I guess I’ll have to wait for comments to see what happens. Remember though, if I didn’t persuade you, there are three great posts listed above that should get you interested.

One of the photographs from this trip appears in my Abruzzo 2011 Calendar in aid of the Italian Red Cross. Click here to preview the calendar, find out more and order your copy.

a little bit about 

Noel is an IT Consultant, software development Project Manager, photographer, writer, and English teacher. These days he swaps his time between Abruzzo, Italy and Dublin, Ireland.

You can see more of Noel's photographs on
Noel McCarthy Photography

Many of these images are available to buy on 500px Art at
http://www.500pxart.com/noelmccarthy