150 kilometers east of Rome lies the highest part of the Apennines, the wild Abruzzo. We have a stopover in the beautiful small town of Rieti which has made national headlines with an annual Athletics Gran Prix and a resulting world record. A really pretty town and a great B&B. We step into a narrow inconspicuous house in a narrow street of the old town and with each step the stairs up we come closer to heaven. On the third floor, the large windows around let the sun in and offer a view of the rooftops of the city. Here is the Middle of Italy.
The next day we go to L’Aquila, the capital of Abruzzo, where the devastating earthquake took place in 2009.
Due to the lack of a campsite, we stay with Mery and Marco who rent out their third room in a suburban apartment. Mery does not let us leave without visiting the Gran Sasso National Park with its highest mountain Corno Grande (2912m). With her Italian temperament – very determined, uncomplicated, loud and lovable, temperamental – she gives us no choice, we still stay and have a balmy summer evening in the city.
On Monday we are on the road again with our Abruzzo map with places worth seeing, marked by Mery who grew up here. Unfortunately, Rolf still has to struggle with unbearable renal colic pain. He now rides through the country in the style of Rudi Altig. – ‘The rolling pharmacy’ was Rudi’s nickname at the time when he was a professional racer. In Germany he was as famous as Marco Pantani was and the Germans also did not care why he performed so good.
We continue through the national parks, always with the best views on the panoramic road SS83, sometimes with welcomed shady sections, until we arrive after 117 kilometers and twice 800 meters in altitude on our dream place: Wild camping with infrastructure in the midst of deer, wolves, lynxes and bears. The campsite owner welcomes us with a glass of cold white wine.
Do you know that 80 percent of the animals see us, but we do not see them? So we enjoy the large and small, horned and non-horned deer that come to the clearing called Camping Natura in the evening.
At night we make a fire, like most of the campers, nature lovers and animal lovers. During the day it is still hot, as it has been for the last four weeks. And this despite the fact that we are in Viletta Barrea at an altitude of 1000 m. We rarely manage to set up our tent in the shade, as we choose the place in the evening.
The day starts late. No shop opens before 9am and fresh bread is not available until half an hour later. We buy in the mini market at Amalia. After our shopping, the remaining supply is noticeably lower: in the morning at 9:30 a.m. there are two loaves bread of which we buy 1/3 of the one, the only liter of milk and fifty percent of the yogurt supply. Parmesan is always available and we also buy the delicious Gorgonzola. After two visits, we can take the goods with us without money, as there is no change in the cash register to redeem the 20€ note.
Traditionally, the boombox is turned on. Andy Fletscher of Depeche Mode died today at the age of 60 – we hear the cover ‘Personal Jesus’ by Johnny Cash.
On the rest day we climb the Passo Godi (1630m) on an exit to Scanno.
The landscape is changing. The wooded pieces are becoming fewer. It is getting more barren.
This morning we are woken up by chewing deer. Yesterday there were fourteen on the meadow. And when they walk so slowly, they also seem to calm down the people who respectfully, almost reverently, come closer to observe and photograph the deer. A spectacle that repeats itself every evening.
Markus and Katharina from Dresden are our new neighbours on the tent green. We get an invitation to beer. That comes well after our super beautiful animal- and humanless hike today. It has been thundering and flashing for hours. But rain does not come down. With a recommendation for our next destination, after five days we set off to visit the third Majella National Park in Abruzzo.