A stage of good length and considerable differences in height (uphill and downhill), approaching the Gran Sasso. The postcard of the day is the glimpses of the Corno Grande from the Piano di San Pietro and the view of the great Lago di Campotosto (the second-largest artificial basin in Europe!) from the Sella della Laghetta.
The stage presents important differences in height and paths that are not always easy: should not be underestimated.
Several sections of the path are covered with invasive vegetation (ferns, tall grass), especially in the ascent to Passo Forchetta and to Sella della Laghetta.
The descent from Piano San Pietro to the road leading to Cesacastina is very steep and complicated due to some rocks to overcome; in addition, the path is almost nonexistent, and the signs are absent (it is good to monitor the GPS track constantly).
The only water point is in Cesacastina.
We leave Padula retracing the path of the previous day, up to the paved road, which we follow to the hamlet of Macchiatornella: afterward, we take the path on the left to ascend (approximately 300 m height difference) up to Passo Forchetta. After an open and panoramic stretch, we enter the woods and, passing a stretch of invasive vegetation, we reach Passo Forchetta (1,329 m).
We walk along the ridge of Colle della Palomba in gentle ups and downs on a wide dirt road until we take a bend to proceed in a south-easterly direction, towards the plain of San Pietro. The view towards the south, on the Gran Sasso massif, is splendid. We leave the carriage road and take the path in the grass (not marked: it is good to monitor the GPS) on the right, until we reach Colle del Pizzo (1,332 m). We then begin the descent (approximately 400 m drop) toward the road that leads to Cesacastina. The path, although wide, is very steep and gradually gets lost in the tall grass, we must pay attention to the direction and, near some rocky jumps, guess the easiest passages.
Finally, we reach the asphalted road and go up (approximately 150 m height difference) to the village of Cesacastina, the starting point to the famous Cento Fonti waterfall. After a break (the only water point of the stage is here), we resume the journey, continuing on the paved road for a few hundred meters. We then take the path on the right and start the long climb (about 800 m height difference) towards Sella della Laghetta. The first part of the route is on a carriage road, wide and with a constant slope. Afterward, having reached a small grassy plateau, the path continues in the grass and we have to slook carefully to identify the signs placed on some wooden poles. Before the pass, we find the Pane e Cacio spring (so called because of the shepherds who stopped here to eat a snack).
From Sella della Laghetta, the view opens onto the beautiful and vast Lago di Campotosto. We begin the descent (approximately 600 m drop) on a well-marked path along the hillside, sometimes on stone slabs, sometimes on grass; after a couple of kilometers, we move to a wide dirt road and proceed on a slight slope until we reach the asphalted road which, slightly uphill, takes us to the village of Campotosto, devastated by the earthquake.
The town of Campotosto was hit by the earthquake in 2009 (with its epicenter in L'Aquila) and in 2016 (Amatrice). However, the earthquake in January 2017 (known for the Rigopiano tragedy) caused the greatest damage to the houses. In that tragic moment, the area was hit by an extraordinary snowfall, which made the situation even more dramatic and complicated the rescue operations.
The Lago di Campotosto is an artificial basin of 14 sq km, one of the largest artificial lakes in Europe. It was built during the Fascist period, but its activation took place only after the war. The dam, managed by ENEL, produces 700 megawatts.
The agriculture in the province of Teramo is powered by the water of Lake Campotosto.
Among the houses built in the destroyed center of Campotosto, it is possible to visit the laboratory La Fonte della Tessitura by Assunta Perilli, which uses the ancient techniques of carding, coloring and processing of wool. In the past, weaving was a winter activity: family life unrolled itself around the loom, which was often found in the kitchen. The meals were eaten on the benches of the loom.
The Cento Fonti waterfalls, in the municipality of Cesacastina, are among the most beautiful in Abruzzo.
As in the entire territory of the Monti della Laga, the sandstone forms an impermeable layer and the waterfalls plummet for hundreds and hundreds of meters. Such beauty, however, requires a nice walk (about 2 hours) from the center of Cesacastina.
For more info on the falls and the route, see the following LINK.
The specialty of the place is definitely the mortadella di Campotosto, a cured meat also known as cojoni di mulo (mule testicles). A block of lard is placed in the middle of the finely ground pork (once it was pounded with a mortar) to delay the curing.
Traditionally, the mortadella is eaten during the Easter period, after three/four months of seasoning. The product is now a Slow Food presidium and in the village it is possible to visit Nonna 'Ina's laboratory, where Ugo Paolini continues the traditional production of the Mortadella.
At the Osteria del Pescatore you can taste the coregone (lavaret), introduced in the lake in the 70s. Today its presence is safeguarded by fish farms because the introduction of very voracious species, such as pike and carp, has endangered its survival.
Excellent grilled, the lavaret is prepared also marinated and it is good both as an appetizer or as a main course.
Casa della Comunità, in Campotosto. It is a building of the Associazione Nazionale degli Alpini where it is possible to stay overnight; mattress and sleeping bag required. Tel. +39 0862 900142; +39 329 667 5558
Pensione Serena, in Campotosto. Tel. +39 0862 900213
Locanda Mausonium, in Campotosto. Tel. +39 0862 909132
Starting point reachable by car.
Departure point reachable by bus, starting from the city of Teramo with a change in Cortino.
Here the LINK to check the timetables.
Starting point NOT reachable by train.
Va' Sentiero is a grassroot project, thanks to the spontaneous contribution oft housands of people.
Even the most complicated dream, a 7,000km uphill dream,
can be achieved... together.