“It will be closed.”
“It only opens on weekends.”
“We won’t get in.”
“Let’s go anyway.”
So off we went. Five of us, the magic number, heading for Roccascalegna (CH). We had a packed picnic basket full of goodies, minus the lashings of ginger beer.
It was one of those bright days with plenty of big white fluffy clouds which ensured the light was always changing.
Our destination was Roccascalegna, in the Chieti province of Abruzzo, not too far from Lago di Bomba.
We were going there to see the castle. If you’ve seen pictures of the Castello di Roccascalegna you’ll understand why. It hangs over the edge of a cliff overlooking the town, the views from the castle and the surrounding paths are fantastic, the area is full of wild flowers and is crawling with all sorts of insects (well I found them interesting).
I brought my camera, Ruth brought her sketch book and pen, and we did our best to record what we saw. I’ve already written about the insects on view in Abruzzo’s Smaller Majority so in this post I’m going to concentrate on the castle.
Let’s start with the photos.
As you walk through the town the streets gradually change and you realise you are on your way to the castle. Looking up from a small square a tower hanging on the cliff edge fills your view.
Walking on you realise that although the castle is the dominant structure, the overall attraction comes from the beautiful paths, view points and picnic areas that are part of the grounds. A lot of thought and effort has gone into its restoration and upkeep.
The castle has a bloody past. It turns out that the not very nice Baron Corvo de Corvis was very keen on extracting as much tax as he could from his downtrodden subjects. Not content with taking all their money he decided to go a step further by introducing jus primae noctis which allowed him, under law, to have his wicked way with all newlywed brides. He was definitely not a nice guy, even by 16th century standards. Eventually he received his comeuppance when a young bride managed to smuggle a dagger into his lair and stabbed him through the heart.
Apart from the castle, the Abbey of San Pancrazio is also worth seeing, situated at the bottom of the steps that lead up to the castle gates. Built by Benedictines in the 9th century, then abandoned by them in 16th century, later it became an Augustinian monastery. According to legend treasure is buried in the shadow of the bell tower and once a year the dead gather inside for a solemn ritual.
We wandered around, I took photos, Ruth sketched, we had our picnic and then wandered some more. It would have been nice to see the inside of the castle but the outside offered plenty to interest all of us.
If you’re nearby and want to visit then this site with opening hours should help. The castle is open every day (€3 entry fee) during July and August but once September comes it reverts back to Saturday, Sunday and public holidays. Watch out for November when it’s closed, and December, January and possibly February when it’s only open on public holidays.
It’s definitely worth a trip.