Maiella, near Serramonacesca

In the summer of 2019, we spent a couple of days with some friends and their respective kids (aged 6 to 12 years), in the Serramonacesca area. Our idea was to explore the surrounding areas of this little village in the Abruzzo region. The village is situated in the province of Pescara.

Serramonacesca, Pescara province, Abruzzo (, 2020).
Serramonacesca area with the Maiella National Park shown in green (, 2020).

Serramonacesca is a small village of the Pescara hinterland, close to the northern boundary of the Maiella National Park. The River Alento flows to the east of the village, in a deep, incised limestone valley that has been eroded by the action of the river. There are some great scenes when walking on the sides of the valley.

The Alento river valley with the Maiella in the background (Summer, 2019)

The Serramonacesca area is also known for the Abbey of San Liberatore from Maiella (Abbazia di San Liberatore a Maiella), which is dated 884 and the retreat of Sant’Onofrio (Eremo di Sant’Onofrio). We didn’t get a chance to see the latter, but we will certainly get the opportunity at some point in the future.

Abbey of San Liberatore from Maiella (Summer, 2019)

We spent the first night at the Kokopelli Camping. There are a couple of online reviews for those that are interested. It’s a good compromise between nearly wild camping and a five star camping. There are no laid out pitches to setup your tent. No intrusive evening lights that you normally get in cities. Rest assured you will see the Milky Way in the clear August sky. The site is quite relaxing and not too over-crowded. The British couple that run the place are polite and have been living at Serramonacesca for a few years. They make available some cutlery, pots and pans. There is a decent communal kitchen setup. There seems to be some confusion on whether fires can be lit at the camping site. Both the owners and some campers believe that fires and BBQs are not permitted, as they believe that the camping site is within the boundaries of the Maiella National Park. However, having consulted the official cartography, published by the Park Authority (Ente Parco), the camping site clearly falls outside (c. 500-600m) of the Maiella National Park boundaries.

Alento river – from San Liberatore Abbey, walk down towards the signed route that takes you down to the valley (looking downstream).
Wooden bridge along the route through the Alento river valley (c. 500m upstream from the Abbey of San Liberatore).

There are several routes that cross the Alento river valley. Most of these are under the shade of the trees, so its a good opportunity to escape from the August heat. One of the most interesting routes is the one that takes you down to the river from the Abbey of San Liberatore from Maiella. It is an easy route that can be taken by young children (4-5 years onwards) as long as suitable precautions are taken (e.g. appropriate footwear and ensuring they hold their parents hands).

Once you are at the valley bottom, you walk upstream towards the springs of the river. After approximately 500 meters, you reach a small pool created by the erosional activity of the water. The pool collects the cold river water and, if you are brave enough to bear the 10 degree Celsius water, you can have a quick swim. The kids really enjoyed it. Looking upwards from the pool, there are a few IX century burial tombs that have been dug into the rock. While the route is quite busy in summer, there is probably enough space for a sandwich and a rest. If you decide to continue walking up the valley, you cross a small wooden bridge just upstream of the pool and you continue towards to the springs.

This is a great short walk that gives you a great outdoor experience, especially during the late spring/summer period. Kids also have a great time. The area surrounding Serramonacesca is really worth seeing if you are in Abruzzo, as its a window on some of the more interesting walking routes that are scattered in and around the Maiella National Park. And don’t forget that this is the area where you can get some of the best arrosticini from Abruzzo.

It is important to remember that these environments should be preserved and respected. All litter should go home with you.

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