It is difficult to explain the feelings that emerge along the paths that lead to the Maiella, which Pliny the Elder considered the ‘Mountain’s Father’, and which the Abruzzan people consider the ‘Mother Mountain’. In fact, it is not actually a mountain but a massive group of mountains, the second largest massif in the continental Apennines after Gran Sasso. Within it, amidst vast areas of untamed nature, thrives the most valuable and rarest part of the national heritage of biodiversity, holding both European and worldwide importance. Today the Maiella is a National Park.
Francesco Petrarca, in ‘De vita solitaria’ (The Life of Solitude) celebrated the spirituality of the Maiella and, due to its hermitages created within the caves and woods, called it ‘Domus Christi’ (House of Christ). It has been a place of religious ceremony since prehistory. With the arrival of Christianity and especially during the Middle Ages, the Maiella became the site of several important Benedictine monasteries. There are many caves in which over the centuries stories of men were depicted namely, shepherds, saints hermits and bandits. Among these stands out the figure of Pietro da Morrone, who lived as a hermit amidst these mountains, built hermitages and founded the Celestine monastic order, until, in 1294, the papal messengers announced his election to the papal throne.
For lovers of walking and fans of trekking, there are many trails and paths that, with different degrees of difficulty and length (from 2 hours to a ring circuit of 5 days) lead to the discovery of the primitive and uncontaminated nature of the Maiella. Trekking maps are available at the Maiella Park info points (www.parcomajella.it), and are also on sale in the town book shops. Majella Walking is one local agency that provides the Road Books on routes, innovative concept guide books that facilitate independent travel for those seeking to undertake multi-day walks. Other support services are also available, such as luggage transportation. (www. maiellawalking.it)