Hiking in Abruzzo

Abruzzo, a mountainous region northeast of Campania, has the largest national park in Italy: the Gran Sasso d'Italia, home of the highest peaks in the Apenine Mountains (and the highest spot in Italy south of the Alps).  A number of great hikes exist in the Gran Sasso, including the following one that involves via ferrata (the "iron way"), a system of safety cables.

Gran Sasso National Park

Via Ferrata ("Iron Way" Hiking/Climbing)

One of the best ways to experience the Gran Sasso National Park is using the Via Ferrata trails; which allow you to clip into a "iron way" (or cable) and thus do hiking/climbing that would be inaccesible without sophisticated climbing gear.  This is recommended for experienced hikers only, and you will need a via Ferrata rig (they are available at sporting goods stores like Decathlon; see the Shopping Page for information about Decathlon). A helmet is also recommended, as there is lose rock which can fall and roll down the mountain side. If you see or hear rocks falling, remember to yell "ROCK" to warn the other climbers.

Directions to Main Trailhead

Drive from Naples to Prati di Tivo [42°29'58.18"N 13°33'35.56"E] once you get off the highway and through the toll
Park your car in the parking lot. There is plenty of parking. Grab a snack, water for now and a sandwich for later at the restaurante at the base of the mountain. Don't forget to buy a map. Try to get a good one. This will come in handy if you want to go around the back of the mountain.  
You will see a chair lift going up the mountain. Buy a ticket andata e ritorno  "Up and back". [note: the chair lift stops running at 5pm. Therefore on your way down make sure you have enough time, or you will be hiking the rest of the way down.]

Base Camp/Mountain Refuge

A great way to enjoy extended hiking without having to pack heavy backpacks is to stay in a mountain refuge or rifugio.  One recommended on is the Franchetti Rifugio; rates include a bed, breakfast, and dinner.  Stay the night so you can get up for an early start. 
Prati di Tivo
Vallone delle Cornacchie
Pietracamela - Teramo
Manager: Mr. Luca Mazzoleni
Tel. 0861-959634 / 333-2324474
Via Aquilotti 5 - 64047 Pietracamela

Sample Itinerary

  • Day 1: Drove from Naples to Assergi and camped. In Assergi you will you get off the highway and through the toll station. Left goes to town and right to a science labatory. Go right up the hill. Once you have gone about a half a mile go right. This will take you to the forest fire station. Go pass the station a couple hundred yard toward the gondola / town. Just before you hit the town you will need to take right, and go down the hill, immediate on the left is the camp ground. Walk back to the town and grab a great dinner and some good beer at the German style rest. 
  • Day 2: Arrive at Prati di Tivo, parked, took the chairlift up, drop unnecessary gear off at Franchetti Rifugio, hike Corno Grande
  • Day 3: Left the rifugio and stash gear at the saddle between Ghiacciaio del Gran Sasso and Corno Piccolo. Summit Ghiacciaio del Gran Sasso. Return to gear and hiked around the backside of Corno Piccolo. Remember to leave enough time to catch the chairlift by 5pm.
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Luke Swartz,
Feb 22, 2010, 1:04 AM
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