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The Fortress of Rocca Calascio, the highest in the Appennini

Giorgio

20 January 2021

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Italy is full of castles and amazing hidden places.

Rocca Calascio is considered one of the highest castles in Italy. It is in fact located at an altitude of 1,460 meters. It is located on the edge of the vast Campo Imperatore in the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park in the province of L’Aquila.

Its foundation was attributed to Ruggero II d’Altavilla around 1140, known as the Norman and first king of Sicily. There is the first document of 1239, which gave the name to the fortress, but it was necessary to find a certificate attesting its existence in 1380.

The castle is part of the defensive system and the fortification system that controls the displaced in the pastoral area of ​​Campo Imperatore.

Until 1806 the feudal system was abolished, Rocca Calascio became part of Baron Carapilo.

The importance of this fortress also led to the development of a small village at its feet, but after a strong earthquake in 1703, the village was said to have nothing left, the village was abandoned and the inhabitants began to move to the nearby town of Calascio.

Rocca Calascio was restored between 1986 and 1989 and is now open to the public.

Near the Rocca di Calascio there is also a church of Santa Maria della Pita, which dates back to around 1500. The church has an octagonal plan with a large window at the bottom, which offers the pastor the opportunity to witness the worship from the outside.

Between 1985 and 1986, this iconic castle was used as a backdrop for two cult films: “Ladyhawke” and “The Name of the Rose“, which made it popular again, so much so that it was protected and renovated.

Similarly, with the opening of some accommodation facilities, some medieval villages were brought back to life, and some foreigners came to buy and renovate some destroyed houses.

The earthquake that destroyed L’Aquila in 2009 did not cause particular damage to the fort, but the fort has been closed to the public for several years.

Do you want to reach Rocca Calascio? You can take the A24 and exit at L’Aquila Est. Follow the directions for Sulmona. After Poggio Picenze go to Barisciano. After crossing the town, continue to S. Stefano di Sessanio and then to Calascio.

From here the road is about 3 kilometers. You enter the fortress and in some sections there are parking lots. If you have children, you can try driving a few meters from the old village under the Rocca, where there are also many parkings.

Remember that the climb from the countryside to the Rocca can sometimes be steep and even a little uncomfortable, so it is impossible to do it with a stroller or people with walking problems.