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Abruzzo: Gran Sasso between curves and "arrosticini"

The thrill of experiencing the imposing nature of Gran Sasso and the wildest Abruzzo on a motorbike: two and a half days of beautiful roads between snow-capped peaks, flowers, villages, lakes, and Italian arrosticini!

Our journey begins on Friday afternoon from Romagna, with a few hours off work, some wine in the trunk, and a couple of biker friends. We travel along the Adriatic highway towards Teramo and continue towards Isola del Gran Sasso where we are catapulted into a mountain panorama with beautiful snow-capped peaks. We pass through the cold and long tunnel of the Gran Sasso, we reach L'Aquila and we cover the last 20km which leads us to our base in Santo Stefano di Sessanio.

Day 1

Campo Imperatore, Castel del Monte, Sulmona, Lake Scanno, Sirente-Velino Natural Park, L'Aquila

From Santo Stefano di Sessanio we take the panoramic road towards Campo Imperatore. It may be that we caught a sunny day and a clear sky, but the view is immediately striking and leaves you breathless!

The road to Campo Imperatore is on a green plain surrounded by high snow-capped peaks and dotted with lakes, small blocks of ice, beautiful intense blue flowers, and purple-like wild Abruzzo saffron. It is also called Little Tibet.

We meet many who go trekking, some who bivouac in refuges and even some elderly mountaineers. Up here the war saw the controversial Operation Oak, in which on September 12, 1943, the Germans managed to free Mussolini imprisoned in Campo Imperatore..the hotel where he stayed is still present.

Continuing towards the Monumento al Pastore, Mucciante, and Castel del Monte, you have wonderful views and even if the road becomes beaten, you travel very well. Castel del Monte deserves a stop to stretch your legs among the 3 rings of narrow streets inside the village and if you pass under "7 Sporti" (arches) bring good luck!

Sulmona is the queen of sugared almonds: hard, soft, classic, the famous sweet tiramisù, and even for decoration. There are many small shops and it is impossible not to taste them and not to buy some, also because the price is incredibly low. The walk in front of the Civic Museum and in the square of the Medieval Aqueduct to have an ice cream while sitting down is beautiful.

The road towards Scanno is beautiful, it looks a bit like that of the Forra on Lake Garda because it passes between the excavated rocks and majestic nature. You arrive first on the small Lake of San Domenico from the emerald green water and the hermitage with ancient charm. Then you reach the much larger Lake Scanno with small beaches and electric boats that can be rented. If you have time, you can walk the Path of the Heart to see the heart-shaped lake..ask some local elders to show you the shortcut to get there.

And off we go with another rush.. motorcyclists who are too stationary can't stay! Kilometers and curves in the Sirente-Velino Natural Park admire forests, mountains, and the animals that occasionally jump nearby. Evening at l'Aquila with a bit of healthy nightlife in its many bars.

Day 2

Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Rocca Calascio, Campo Imperatore, Vasto road, Capannelle pass, Campotosto lake, Amatrice, Ascoli Piceno

Santo Stefano di Sessanio is a small enchanted village, with small streets and tunnels where small shops and refreshments open. Here is also the Albergo Diffuso Sextantio - from the name of the village in Latin - one of the first in Italy to introduce this new type of hospitality.

After only 4km we arrived at Castello di Rocca Calascio, the highest fortress in Italy at 1460 meters, famous for the film Ladyhawke. Having a motorbike here was truly a salvation because we were able to park up to the village of Calascio and save ourselves a very long uphill walk. Pretending to be in the Freedom team and with Omar with us, we walked up to the octagonal church and then up to the fortress. Looking at the ruins, one can still perceive the vitality of its ancient inhabitants.

After the cultural moment, we return to the bike impatient to get back up towards the Gran Sasso with its nice fresh breeze that chases away the heat of the day and ready for a nice lunch. With a full belly, we continue towards the Vasto road and it seems to be in motorcyclists' paradise, the cars are almost afraid to steal space on these roads. Ritual moment and photo at the Passo delle Capanelle and then off to Lake Campotosto which is a must: a beautiful blue lake with mountains full of snow that silhouetted on the horizon.


  • Le Case della Posta in Santo Stefano di Sessanio: well-maintained historic apartments with everything you need, delicious breakfast, parking in front and a very kind owner.

  • At Mucciante to buy fresh "arrosticini" and cook them on the fornacelle always lit or their cold cuts ..get ready for the long line!

  • At Fonte Cerreto some trucks cook excellent "arrosticini".

  • Amatrice for the amatriciana and "leave the penny" as our good friend says.

  • Sulmona sugared almonds, come from all over Abruzzo and Lazio to buy them.

We weren't able to try them but they also recommended eating Lo Zio in Campo Imperatore and The Locanda sul Lago in Santo Stefano.


To sleep 2 nights we spent 100€ per couple.


  • Try to get to Rocca Calascio early in the morning or late in the afternoon, otherwise, the sun and the heat will be your treacherous enemies.

  • On a motorbike it may be convenient to sleep in L'Aquila to leave span> from the Capannelle pass, Vasto, up to Campo Imperatore and arrive at Mucciante for lunchtime.

Map itinerary:



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