Hiking the Celano Canyon in Abruzzo, Italy
Earlier this summer, during a particularly steamy Roman week, I found myself daydreaming constantly about a weekend escape to Abruzzo.
I often get out for weekend to the town of Ovindoli, about 1 1/2 hour drive from Rome. Since the town at 1400 meters from sea level it is much, much cooler than Rome … especially in the evenings when it can get downright chilly.
So the weekend I was there, while it was 40 degrees in Rome, it was warm but minus the humidity in Ovindoli, and my family and I took advantage of the perfect weather to go hiking. And that we did – down to explore the Celano Canyon, the Gole di Celano.
This is a great hiking trail you can hike from two ends – either starting in the town of Celano, walking through the canyons and hiking up, or beginning in Ovindoli and hiking down to end at the canyons.
We chose to start from Ovindoli. This is a well-marked path off of the Arano ring trail – trail 12, marked in red and white (see accompanying photo).
The path is not too difficult, although it is quite steep and I left my good hiking shoes in the closet back in Rome, rather than putting them to use when I needed them. Wear good shoes with much better treads than I had on that day, but otherwise it’s an enjoyable hike for dry days (on rainy days it would be too slippery).
There are great views over the canyon from the top segment of the trail.
There are some eagles living in area, which I’ve seen n earlier hikes but didn’t see on this outing.
Part way down you can take a short detour to see the ruins of a 12th century monastery, San Marco.
There’s a short explanation explaining its importance at the time of Pope Celestino V, a pope who came from Abruzzo and was chosen due to how far away he was from church politics (he lived as a hermit in the mountains of Abruzzo).
Pope Celestino is also famous as the last pope (before Pope Ratzinger) to have abdicated the papacy.
You can see my earlier post about Pope Celstino here.
We stayed here for a while to admire this spot not for purely spiritual reasons, but because it had a picnic table in a panoramic spot and it was a great place to stop for our sandwiches before continuing on our hike.
The peaceful rest certainly did us good, and we were read to set off to tackle the rest of the trail.
The trail continues down to the actual canyon – said to be the most beautiful in Abruzzo. It is 5 kilometers long and the dramatic cliff faces are up to 100 meters high.
We enjoyed our time walking its length and staring up the canyon walls.
From here, it’s an easy walk back to the trail head. Many people have two cars and park one on top and one at the parking lot at the bottom, to drive back to Ovindoli. We hiked up to the town of Celano (a bit tiring in the heat after our long hike down the canyon).
From the main town square in Celano (beside the castle), we caught the bus going up to Ovindoli.
A great hike down the Celano Canyon. Looking forward to next time!
That looks like a lovely hike and the signs are really good – sometimes the ones I see here are easy to miss, but red & white is visible! I didn’t know any other pope had ever abdicated – interesting.
True, but sadly Abruzzo doesn’t usually mark its trails so well. At least this trail is, but I’ve been lost on many occasions when a trail marker like this would have come n handy. Abruzzo Scouts – take note and go improve your trail markers!
just found your post. We have had a house in Abruzzo for some years. not done the celano Gorge yet but your post is helpful as I had intended to plan route from ovindoli side. Great idea to get the bus back.