Earlier this year we set off for Corvara in the province of Pescara, about 20 minutes from the Torre De’ Passeri exit on the A25 motorway.
The weather over the Christmas/New Year period had been dry with temperatures consistently above 10 degrees. Friday 4 January was no different and it was a perfect day to explore a part of Abruzzo I didn’t know very well.
We didn’t have a clear blue sky, there were a few fluffy clouds, but there was no chance of rain.
We set off early enough and decided to avoid the motorway so we skirted Pianella, Cepagatti, and Nocciano as we made our way towards Cugnoli and on to Corvara.
The journey time was less than an hour which suited us perfectly. Our day was not entirely our own as we had to be back at base by mid afternoon for an appointment. The one hour journey allowed us plenty of time to stop for photos, do a bit of exploring and find a good spot for lunch.
Why visit Corvara?
Corvara sits at about 625 metres above sea level so the views from the town on a bright clear January day promised to be spectacular.
We parked near a small church just before a bridge and started walking up the narrow streets.
A word of warning; don’t expect bars or shops in Corvara. If you need to buy anything your best bet is to stop at Cugnoli or perhaps Pescosansonesco.
Although Corvara looks like a good sized town from down below as you walk around you soon realise that many of its houses are unoccupied.
As we explored, we met only one person who lives in the town and he told us that Corvara, like many mountain villages of Abruzzo, emptied in the 1950’s. Many families abandoned their homes and headed overseas to places like Canada and Venezuela in the hope of finding work.
Walking around the town you could easily see the contrast between the homes in good repair and the more distressed, unoccupied houses.
I’m not sure if I read that there are only six families living there now or that there are only six houses occupied now. Either way there are much fewer people than back before emigration took hold.
We followed the steps and narrow streets up to the top of the town to a magnificent ancient olive tree. From there the views of the surrounding countryside were simply stunning.
We were lucky to have the opportunity to visit on such a beautiful day.
The only sound we heard apart from our own voices and the odd dog bark was the tap, tap, tap of a carpenter at work in a small piazza below.
In the 1950’s Italy, like most of Europe, was in a serious economic crisis. Many Italians headed to France, Switzerland, Belgium, United States, Canada or South American for work.
Around this time many were leaving Ireland heading to England, Canada and the north eastern region of the United States.
In Ireland we have our abandoned villages too.
So here we are sixty years on and the economic conditions over the last few years have once again forced many people to leave for work overseas.
Earlier this month Italy’s national statistics institute Istat said that the country was in its longest recession in the last 20 years, after it registered a negative growth for the sixth consecutive quarter.
According to The Guardian, in November 37.1% of young people across Italy were out of work – the highest since records began in 1992.
I would expect that issues like these should be a priority for all of Italy’s politicians and the entire population when voting in the General Election on 24–25 February.
Still it was a beautiful, almost warm, winter’s day and as we walked around Corvara, breathing the clear air and taking in its surroundings the economy, the euro and politics were far from our thoughts.
It was quiet, too quiet.