Heading To Civitella Del Tronto In The Mountains of Abruzzo
With map in hand we plotted a day trip north from Pescara to pick up sites we may have missed in our train trip from Rimini to Pescara. Having been far too ambitious in our planning when we took our day trip south, we tried to set a realistic route this time and limit our way points. Of course we failed again and would turn back while the wow factor still had us entranced and before the rain made mountain driving dangerous.
The Towns North of Pescara
Starting on the beach road, we poked into beaches and small towns along the way, wondering how wild this trip might be in the height of summer.
We stopped for a cafe and finally found an auto supply store where we could purchase a reflective vest. Apparently there is a large fine for getting out of your car without a vest on and the 5€ to buy one was far cheaper than getting one from the car rental company at 3€ per day. This detour to avoid costs backfired when we found a parking ticket on the car. The parking sign had been misleading and even parked for less than 30 minutes we were faced with a 41€ ticket. David would need to figure out how to pay this to avoid a userous processing fee from the car rental agency. While our base car rental rate was reasonable, the list of additional possible fees was long and high priced.
Entering Giulianova we tried to remember what the notes scribbled on the map by our helpful concierge Fabio meant. “Up the hill” did not clearly tell us where we headed up or whether this was the spot where we could get the holy water. The long list of suggestions we got from Fabio when we left the hotel were now vague memories for us. David was still fuming over the parking ticket, wondering how people could double park on busy streets with impunity yet our finding a legal spot resulted in a fine. Maybe the rental car was like a red flag for tickets? Distracted, we did not easily find a way to go up the hill and we moved to the next way point.
Heading Into The Hills Of Abruzzo
Continuing on SS16, we went in search of SS4 into the hills before we hit the town of San Benedetto Del Tronto. We were now seriously in search of a lunch stop and wanted to make a little more distance before we stopped. SS4 was another regional road that went through a series of small towns. The map showed a castle on this route but we never managed to find it. We were now batting zero for two of our targeted sites. The only pleasant surprise for David was to find a field of sheep!
Entering Ascoli Piceno we went in search of an open restaurant and a legal parking spot. The Taverna di Cecco located in an ancient building still had people sitting under umbrellas so we headed there without a glance at a menu. But no menu was needed! Appetizers appeared before us as we sat down – fresh carved proscuitto, bruschetta and the famous stuffed fried olives. It appeared that our choices would be limited to either carne (meat) or a primi with a secondi (pasta?). Passing on wine since we were driving, we chose red meat to restore our protein supplies and almost gagged when we each got what looked like half a cow. A great meat feast but when dessert was offered we could not even bear to think about tucking into the huge slice of Tiramisu we saw delivered to the other patrons. We rolled out and with a quick view of the river far below and the statue by our car, we were on our way out of this town.
Final Stop at Civitella Del Tronto
With dinner reservations for that night, we re-assessed our travel plans and decided we had time and the energy for one more try at our intended way points. Finding our way to SS81, we headed further into the hills before taking the small road up the mountain to Civitella del Tronto in the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park.
It was a rough switchback road on the way to Civitella Del Tronto that showed signs of recent washouts. We would not want to be driving this in the rain.
This would cause us to leave early when rain clouds showed up on the horizon although we found the alternate road down towards Teramo to be a much better maintained road. We figured most visitors must come from that way.
We kept climbing until we hit the town centre. The old fort walls drew us through and into the lower piazza. The church on this lower level was closed but then most of the town still was not open after siesta hour.
We stopped to take a few pictures of the hills, marvelling at the farming being done on the steep terrain.
Off we went along the cobblestone walkways, up and up around yet one more switchback lane.
Along the way we found two churches, both quite beautiful inside. We wondered how many people stopped on their way up to the fort at the summit.
The way up became steeper and narrower but Billy Goat Linda ploughed on. As we got high enough to spot the fort tower walls close above us we also noted that there were rain clouds approaching.
This tipped the scales and sent us back down having almost reached the summit and the actual fort.
We felt really silly after retracing our steps to the entrance and finding a series of 4 escalators that could have got us to the top. But not with the same leg building walk! By stopping our hike up when we did, apparently we missed an interesting old fort right at the top and not really evident from the crumbling wall we did find. Next time we will remember the escalators!
Bypassing Teramo on the way back, we tracked to the autoroute and back towards Pescara. Our only mistake was leaving the highway early and getting caught up in town traffic. We would make it back in time for a quick shower and a quicker drink before heading out for our dinner.
Fabio had made our reservations at the affiliated restaurant Le Terrazze for 7:30. We left totally satiated and pleased. With the huge meat feast for lunch and a full 3 course seafood dinner, I would not need protein for days!
When you visited Civitella Del Tronto did you take the escalator up? Did you miss the great walk through the town? Did we really miss a big deal by missing the fort?