On the way Abruzzo

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On the way Abruzzo
Gori

On the way Abruzzo

On the way Abruzzo

On the way Abruzzo

On the way Abruzzo

17th pictures

On the way Abruzzo
Zep Gori

1/17
Tour three gets full marks. Here one highlight follows the next.

On the way Abruzzo
Zep Gori

2/17
Film-ready setting: At the Rocca Calascio fortress were among other things “The name of the Rose” and “The American” turned.

On the way Abruzzo
Zep Gori

3/17
Village scenes on Lake Campotosto.

On the way Abruzzo
Zep Gori

4/17
More luxuries on a billboard at L’Aquila.

On the way Abruzzo
Zep Gori

5/17
Lots of sheep’s cheese and salami in the cheese dairy / butcher’s shop La Mascionara on Lake Campotosto.

On the way Abruzzo
Zep Gori

6/17
Gravel road on the Passo delle Capannelle.

On the way Abruzzo
Zep Gori

7/17
L’Aquila: The earthquake and its consequences – even two years after the earthquake of April 6, 2009, the provincial capital is like a ghost town.

On the way Abruzzo
Zep Gori

8/17
Hotel Campo Imperatore, where Mussolini was imprisoned.

On the way Abruzzo
Zep Gori

9/17
The solitary observatory sits enthroned on the Campo Imperatore.

On the way Abruzzo
Zep Gori

10/17
L’Aquila, the provincial capital of Abruzzo.

On the way Abruzzo
Zep Gori

11/17
The cabins of the few visitors to a disused cable car.

On the way Abruzzo
Zep Gori

12/17
Magical land, original charisma.

On the way Abruzzo
Zep Gori

13/17
Beautiful – Lago di Campotosto.

On the way Abruzzo
Zep Gori

14/17
Completely free path on Campo Imperatore.

On the way Abruzzo
Zep Gori

15/17
Between heaven and earth: sunset on Monte Cristo.

On the way Abruzzo
Zep Gori

16/17
Tour one: Only about 150km long, but has earned a full ten points.

On the way Abruzzo
Zep Gori

17/17
Tour two: With a maximum score of ten, this tour would earn eight points.

to travel

On the way Abruzzo

Out and about in Abruzzo
Wilder Kaiser – Abruzzo trip by motorcycle

Nowhere else is Italy as wild as in Abruzzo: defiant fortresses, rugged cliffs, narrow slopes and the overwhelming high plateau Campo Imperatore – the Kaiserfeld.

Eva Breutel

03/17/2011

The sight comes unexpectedly and almost knocks me out of the saddle. Your own fault, because my travel companion Zep, who has been here several times, had one “Unique experience” promised. Which I could hardly imagine. But now I can hardly stop myself from being so amazed, because I’m rolling towards a mountain panorama like I’ve never seen it before. Almost endless expanses open up behind the fast alternating curves of the last pass. The Campo Imperatore, a high plateau at an altitude of around 1,600 meters, stretches in front of us. All around there are numerous two to three thousand meter peaks, which together form the famous Gran Sasso massif. As far as the view reaches – and it reaches very, very far – there is no one, no car, no other motorcycle to be seen, the gray-brown strip of asphalt is lost in the distance. Countless sheep cavort on the endless pastures, closely guarded by shepherd dogs, who are supposed to protect them from wolves. A herd of cows crosses the street on the way to their watering place on a high mountain pasture. The robust two-cylinder sound of ours KTM competes with the whistling of the wind, which blows stronger and colder. With the sun, the temperature drops almost every minute, and we quickly reached a whopping five degrees. Anyway. The first time on the Campo Imperatore – that is a magical moment.

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The asphalt strip leads us for kilometers over the plateau, sometimes gently curved, sometimes straight. Still not a soul far and wide. At the end of a cul-de-sac on Monte Cristo, we stop and, despite the cold, take a lot of time for the majestic sunset over the peaks. No more wind, there is now complete calm all around, only the engines crackle audibly. Can Italy be so wild, lonely and original? A series of well-circled switchbacks brings us to the Hotel Campo Imperatore at a good 2100 meters. No question about it, we’re in Italy, because the house has four stars, and that doesn’t usually exist in the wilderness. The heating is running at full speed, very welcome after the fascinating but frosty ride through the starry night. Just like the four-course menu in the elegantly set dining room, in which, besides us, only four hikers get lost.


On the way Abruzzo


Zep Gori

Film-ready setting: At the Rocca Calascio fortress, among other things “The name of the Rose” and “The American” turned.

How come? Such a unique route, surrounded by numerous, mostly nameless passes, would be flooded with tourists in the Alps, especially in July. Hotel manager Maria Teresa explains to us. “We Abruzzo”, she says a little wistfully, “are more cautious. This is precisely why we have a hard time promoting ourselves.” Which is why there is only a little life on Campo Imperatore on weekends and in the traditional Italian holiday month of August, but that is fine with us, because on the next day, when we circled the plateau extensively, we have the area almost to ourselves. The panorama changes constantly: first the high plateau, which in the bright sunshine does not lose any of its primeval charm, then over a mogul slope through dense forest down into the valley to Castelli. The road winds further and further down until we land in Montorio at just 260 meters above sea level. It’s scorching hot here, and although the route meanders through a lovely hilly landscape that is well worth seeing, we prefer to look for a mountain road again.

It takes us steeply uphill in tight bends to the Prati di Tivo. Cool 1400 meters, so you can live in Italy even in July. From here a cable car leads up to the Gran Sasso massif. There’s not much going on, and similar to the Alps, the winter sports-oriented hotels, snack bars and souvenir shops seem rather out of place without the gracious snow covering. We thankfully forego the stop, because we are already drawn back to the high plateau. Narrow shepherds’ paths invite you to make detours on gravel, an easy and enjoyable exercise with my Adventure. True off-road driving is forbidden in the national park, but those who stick to the paths and show consideration for animals and plants usually have nothing to fear from the park police. From a distance, in the warm evening light, we can see the massive red building of the hotel and the shimmering dome of the observatory next to it. The hotel is of historical importance, because Mussolini was imprisoned here after his dismissal in 1944, before a German commando freed him in an adventurous operation. You can visit its rooms and even spend the night there. I let Maria Teresa give me the key, but the touch of history wants us in the former rooms of the fascist “Duce” don’t really touch.


On the way Abruzzo


Zep Gori

Between heaven and earth: sunset on Monte Cristo.

On Saturday I, actually a notorious late riser, start a solo lap over the Campo Imperatore at sunrise, so the area grabbed me so much. When I return to the hotel around eight, a mild form of tourism actually begins. Stressed city dwellers stream from nearby Rome into the refreshing coolness of the mountains. At the southern end of the plateau, in the direction of Fonte Vetica, there are several large wooden barracks. Fresh meat is sold here, which anyone can roast themselves on the gas grills. A popular meeting place for motorcyclists has established itself here on the weekends.

As soon as the high plateau ends, a curve dance begins. We fly in nimble turns over the Capo-la-Serra pass and Castel del Monte up to the Rocca Calascio fortress. The way to the mighty stronghold, the backdrop of films such as “The name of the Rose” with Sean Connery or “The American” with George Clooney, leads up a steep path with high steps. It is not closed to motorcyclists, but due to many falls in the past, we received an urgent warning from the locals on the way.

After a rather traumatic detour to L‘Aquila, there is another highlight of the trip: We already know the Passo delle Capannelle from the day of arrival, but this temptation cast in asphalt cannot be driven often enough. In the harmoniously curved, fast corners with the grippy asphalt, the Adventure feels just as comfortable as it does on gravel. We are almost too fast at the top of the pass. Before we come to Lago di Campotosto and thus to the end of the trip, I take one last look at this imperial area, which has taken me by storm. A small chapel, a gravel road. All around treeless slopes with boulders that look like a giant scattered them while playing. The rugged peaks of the Gran Sasso greet you in the south. A barren country, but with a primeval magic that won’t let you go.


On the way Abruzzo


Zep Gori

L’Aquila – The provincial capital.

Even two years after the earthquake on April 6, 2009, in which over 300 people were killed, LAquila, the provincial capital of Abruzzo, is still a ghost town. The military controls access, which is only possible on foot. Passing badly damaged houses and barricaded streets you reach the cathedral square of the city, which seems deserted. The reconstruction announced by the government is a long time coming, private clean-up work by desperate citizens is repeatedly prevented. Many have given up hope and turned their backs on their hometowns. In the villages all around it looks a little better, here individual Italian regions and foreign states helped unbureaucratically. Germany takes care of the badly destroyed village Onna (Onna was a victim of the SS in World War II). Donations are still welcome, but in the opinion of many Abruzzo people, a visit on site helps the most. “We young people in particular can hardly find work”, says Francesca from B&B Santo Stefano. “With a little tourism we could build a new life here.”

Info


On the way Abruzzo


Zep Gori

Completely free path on Campo Imperatore.

Travel area:
The Gran Sasso dItalia National Park is located in Abruzzo (Central Italy), north of the provincial capital LAquila. The Campo Imperatore, a high plateau at around 1,600 meters above sea level, around which the almost 3,000 meter high peaks of the Gran Sasso massif rise, the highest point in Italy outside the Alps, is unique in Europe. The plateau was formed by a glacier and is not far from Europe’s southernmost glacier, the Calderone Glacier on the north side of the Corno Grande. Connoisseurs call the area “Little Tibet”, because it is reminiscent of the famous plateau in the Himalayas. It is not that high and powerful, but it is much easier to reach for Europeans.
 
getting there:
From the Brenner there are two options: First, on the Autostrada del Sole (A 1) to Terni in Umbria (around 680 kilometers, around 40 euros toll) and from there on a beautiful route via Leonessa and Posta to Amatrice (around 90 kilometers) , the starting point of our tour. Second, along the coastal motorway (A 14) via Rimini and Ancona to San Benedetto del Tronto (around 650 kilometers, 40 euros), then on the expressway to Amatrice (around 90 kilometers).

Travel time:
Like the Alps, the Gran Sasso also has a rather harsh climate. The best travel time is from June to September. The average temperature on the high plateau is only twelve degrees, even in midsummer. Weather changes and sudden thunderstorms are normal. If you want to have the Gran Sasso and Campo Imperatore to yourself, you should avoid the weekends and the month of August.

Stay:
The four-star Hotel Campo Imperatore is located at an airy 2130 meters above sea level. In June the overnight stay costs 75 euros, in July and September 85 euros (double room, half board). MOTORRAD readers receive a ten percent discount (except on weekends and in August). It is cheaper to sleep in the youth hostel opposite (30 euros for bed and breakfast). Pre-orders for both houses at www.hotelcam poimperatore.com. Another tip: Bed and Breakfast in Santo Stefano the Sessanio. Francesca and Vittorio grant motorcyclists special conditions: 55 euros for overnight stay and half board, well-stocked wine cellar. Information at www.tralebracciadimorfeo.net


On the way Abruzzo


Zep Gori

Gravel road on the Passo delle Capannelle.

meal:
Since the area has retained much of its originality, you can confidently go to any village pub. The food is good and tasty, the prices are cheap by Italian standards. Because of the huge local sheep herds, one of the specialties is pure sheep’s cheese (pecorino), which the shepherds also sell right on the street. Definitely try: cream cheese made from sheep’s milk (ricotta di pecora). The real red saffron (zafferano) from Abruzzo is also world famous.

Literature / Maps:
The area is little developed for tourism, even the travel guide from Michael Muller Verlag is currently out of print. You can switch to the travel guide “Central Italy” from the same publisher for 24.90 euros. Maps: Kompass cycling and hiking map “Gran Sasso dItalia, LAquila”, 1: 50000, 7.50 euros. Michelin “Abruzzo and Molise”, 1: 200000, 7.50 euros. More information: www.parconazionalegransasso.it

Tours


On the way Abruzzo


Zep Gori

The solitary observatory sits enthroned on the Campo Imperatore.

The Italian Abruzzo enchants motorcyclists with a magnificent mountain panorama, grippy asphalt, empty streets, good food and nice people. Here we tested three routes (with a scale of 0-10 points).

Travel time: 3 days
Distance covered: 800 kilometers


On the way Abruzzo


Zep Gori

Tour one: Only about 150km long, but has earned a full ten points.

Tour one: The route on the first day earned ten full points. At around 150 kilometers, it is the shortest, but leaves plenty of time to admire the panorama of Campo Imperatore extensively, to drive the brisk Passo delle Capannelle more than once and to devote yourself to the speechless nature and the local cuisine.


On the way Abruzzo


Zep Gori

Tour two: With a maximum score of ten, this tour would earn eight points.

Tour two: The second day would get eight points. The 300-kilometer route is very varied and brings a lot of driving pleasure, but emotionally does not come close to tour one.


On the way Abruzzo


Zep Gori

Tour three gets full marks. Here one highlight follows the next.

Tour three: The third day gets the full number of points again. Here one highlight chases the next: Campo Imperatore, grilled meat at the motorcyclists’ meeting, the Rocca Calascio fortress, the medieval village of Santo Stefano, once again the Passo delle Capannelle and finally the high-altitude Lago di Campotosto. Dreamlike curves. With the additional tour in the morning, a total of 350 exciting kilometers.

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