Details of the area around 'Casa del Fiume'.

Abruzzo is known as the green lung of Europe - one third of Abruzzo is designated as either a regional or national park. There are literally so many areas of outstanding natural beauty here! The guide books also describe Abruzzo as a land of 1,000 castles - everywhere you drive you can see a castle at almost every turn, usually perched at the pinnacle of a hill-top village or town.

Abruzzo has always been a favourite holiday destination for Italians, due to its diversity - dramatic scenery, mountains, sea, blue-flag beaches, gastronomy, art, history and culture - literally something for everyone. But more importantly, Italians say it’s like the Real Italy of 50 or more years ago - unspoilt and unpretentious.

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‘Casa del Fiume’ is located in a hamlet known as Frazione Vicenne which is in the comune of Civitella Messer Raimondo in the province of Chieti.

Civitella Messer Raimondo (above) is a medieval village perched on top of a hill at the foot of the Majella overlooking Fara San Martino. At the centre of the village is a castle named after the Baglioni’s family and close by is the medieval Palazzo Gattone which houses a local museum and in August is used as a Tourist Information centre (English speaking). Amenities include a small general store, Post Office, bar, chemist, bakery and Doctor’s surgery. In nearby Le Fonte there is even a butcher that supplies Harrod’s! Small street market is on every Wednesday.

Fara San Martino sits at the very foot of the eastern slope of the Majella and is one of the Italian capitals of pasta production. For centuries the presence of the extra-pure mountain water from the river Verde has been used to create “the best pasta” which is now exported all over the world. Both ‘DelVerde’ and ‘De Cecco’ have a factory shop selling their pasta as well as other delicacies. Fara San Martino is one the many entraces to the Majella National Park, where it is possible to see deer, chamois and golden eagles. Amenities include a variety of small shops, bars and restaurant/pizzeria plus Majella Visitor Centre, Post Office, Banks, supermarket, tobacconist, bakery, newsagent and petrol station. Small street market is held every Thursday.

Entrance to Majella National Park at Fara San Martino, known locally as ‘La Gola’.

Casoli is another mediaeval town located on a hill on the right-hand-side of the Aventino river. It dominates the river below, that feeds into the beautiful lake Sant’Angelo (also known as Lake Casoli), and the surrounding hills. Casoli has a large castle (recently restored) and churches that were built between 1417 and 1587. Just outside Casoli you can visit a WWF nature reserve, which is home to the great white heron, the black stork and the flamingo. Casoli has a large number of amenities and the street market on Friday morning in the centre is excellent for locally produced cheese, fruit and vegetables with many of the smaller stall holders selling their own produce (often organic or at least biodynamic). Just past Casoli and on the SS81 is a newly built shopping park that contains a Eurospin supermarket (cheap, similar to Lidl) and an “Acqua e Sapone” (similar to Superdrug).

Lama dei Peligni situated just below “Monte Amaro” (at 2793m the highest point of the Majella mountain), comprises in its borders the Natural Oasi of the eastern Majella, and is a starting point for many beautiful hiking and rambling excursions, horse riding and mountain biking. Inhabited since pre-historic times, in the XIIth century it was, with nearby Palena, Taranta Peligna e Lettopalena, one of the key defence points along the way to Chieti on the Southwestern Valley route. Well worth seeing is the XVIth century church of San Nicola, with Baroque interior and the Majella National Park Visitor Centre containing the Majella Naturistic Museum. The visitor centre also hires out mountain bikes. There is also a Nature Reserve for the chamois (mountain goat). Lama has a wide variety of small shops including Bank, Post Office, Butcher, two supermarkets (SuperCoal is owned by an english-speaking family who used to live in Canada), newsagent, ironmongers, chemist, barber, florist, petrol station, bars and restaurants.
Well worth a visit during the summer months is the open air swimming pool with english speaking staff and an excellent bar serving food.
Grotta del Cavallone is a short drive away from Lama on the road to Palena but it is usually only open in August.