Friday, 13 April 2012

Pretoro: Woods, mills & waterfalls

A fabulous walk we had today.  Today was scheduled to be an "exploring the mountain bike trails" day but the weather just got worse and worse and worse.  Not fancying being intrepid explorers by bike in this weather, nor wanting to have a day "in the office" either, we donned the waterproofs, put a couple of pizza slices in the rucksack, pulled on our boots and headed off to Pretoro.  Pretoro, only a short distance from us, but whose tracks we've yet to explore.

Pretoro, Chieti, Abruzzo

The first great find of the day was stumbling across the Il Grande Faggio environmental centre in Pretoro as we were looking for the path up to the E2 trail into the Majella.  What a great centre!  Full of loads of information on the Majella, il Grande Faggio (the Great Beech Tree) is an agency for sustainable development that aims to share the environmental intricacies of the Majella National Park, as well as the ancient traditions of its people, with schools, groups and families.  We were shown around and given a real insight into the work of the centre.  They offer laboratory eduction into the rich biodiversity of the area, take hiking excursions into the mountains, as well as organising volunteer work within the Majella.  A fabulous centre for the discovery of nature, history and the culture of the Majella.

We were given loads of advice on the tracks and trails of the area, and pointed in the right direction for the E2 that we were looking for.  We found it easily, and what a treat we had, despite getting absolutely drenched!

We followed the E2, E1 and the Valle del Foro until the cold and wet forced our retreat.

Pointing the way... the Valle del Foro

So much water...

...tumbling down, and down
from the melting snows of Passo Lanciano

We came across ancient, abandoned mills...

...with enticing entrances

...fascinating chambers

...nooks and crannies

...spooky tunnels

...and scary deep drop wells still showing the marks
of rope pulleys worn smooth into the rock

And even a climbing centre project, started but long forgotten.  We couldn't believe it!  Here in front of us, two climbers, was an amphitheatre of fabulous climbing and even an artificial climbing tower!  It was clearly the child of someone's passion and funding, but never completed.  Why???  Maybe too unstable?  How tragic.

Such a beautiful wall

...there's an old sign that explains it, but my very poor Italian failed me.
I don't understand :(

But our disappointment was quickly dispelled.

There was so much choice, so many paths to take...
...and fun to be had

Despite the cold and the wet, this was a beautiful area, just launching into spring.  The flowers were stunning.  Never, ever have we seen woodland flowers like it.

Soooo pretty...

...and the primroses!  Carpets and carpets of them

...even these teeny weeny sunflowers, a little bedraggled,
but still managing to bloom and wave and smile

We weren't the only visitors either...

Boy, did I jump when I saw this little chap!
Just beautiful
A fabulous, fabulous walk.  So what if it rained.  So what it we got drenched.  And cold.  And what a treat at the end of the day - roast pork for supper and a warming, heartening fire...