The last 130 kilometers and 1600 meters of difference in height and we are in Sulmona, in front of the Annunziata church, with a beer stein. I would call today stage the ‘Green Stage’. From Antrodoco to Sulmona passing by L’Aquila, we have always pedaled in the green, on roads inside valleys and mountains covered with beech trees and impenetrable oak woods.
The cultivated fields are few while we are going up to L’Aquila: there is only the powerful Abruzzo’s nature, that from this moment never leaves us. We go up to the capital city through the state road n.17 and after a 30 kilometers long constant climb we see in the distance Mount Camicia, of the Gran Sasso massif, the first real mountain since the begin of the trip.
We decide to visit L’Aquila (what is left after the 2009 earthquake) and we are impressed by what we see: horrible suburbs, prefabricated houses and hangars that seems (and maybe are) randomly built; no outline of a regular urban thought; a still empty city center, but open building sites everywhere, in order to rebuilt, maybe too late by now, the pieces of a city that for seven years has been left perishing.
We run away from men’s awful things and we go back riding in Abruzzo’s nature magnificence. We ride for a while on the left side of the river Aterno valley, then we pass on the right side: it isn’t the straight way to Sulmona but it allows us to ride in the heart of the Monte Sirente regional Park.
Those places’ names are beautiful and they have an ancient flavor like the mountains that overlook them: Vallecupa, Fontecchio, Secinaro. Two deers cross the road in front of us while we are facing another climb. There are no towns right now, only woods. It’s the wolf’s kingdom. The provincial route n.46 (we have met one car in one hour and half !) takes us back to civilization. We go downstream, towards Molina. Then we enter in the San Venanzio gorges, through a road inside living rock that leads on the Peligna valley. At the end of the valley the Mount Majella, white and far away, worn out by the time.
Gag: Aldo and I, both from Sulmona, feel the desire to mark our territory and so we start, 10 kilometers away from the arrival of a 900 kilometers trip, to discuss about which way is the best from Pratola Peligna to Sulmona. Lorenzo and Enrico, seemingly friendly, are having fun.
In the end we arrive in Sulmona. After 850 kilometers of wondering around the world’s most beautiful Country.
Has been a trip made of art cities, landscapes, nature. But it has been also a trip through people, in a provincial Italy that keeps the secret of a people that in spite of everything (and I really mean ‘everything’) can make huge things and can teach to the world the well living art. But overall, great people.
Thanks to Lele, she is 1,40 mt tall and 1,35 mt large, who in Castelnuovo d’Adda has cooked for us the world’s best ‘pisarei and fasoi’.
Thanks to the Monzuno’s butcher who has told us about salami and meat like Argan used to talk about Caravaggio, and thanks to the ladies of the cherries food track in Busseto.
Thanks to the waitress of the restaurant in Fontanellato, as beautiful as the sun, and to the lady, less beautiful, who in Vignola sold us some very sweet cherries.
Thanks to the guys of Bazzano’s castle who have offered us water and coke while they were setting up the stage for a concert in the courtyard.
Thanks to the workers of the Christian Workers Movement Association of Malva, who have told us beautiful cycling stories.
Thanks to the cyclist-mechanic in Santa Maria degli Angeli, who has fixed our bikes without being paid but who has insulted all our vehicles ( “gates, henhouses, rusted cots”).
Thanks to Shrek and Fiona, wild and naives owners of the agritourism inside olive trees.
And thanks to Maria, with her broad hips, red chicks and a big smile, who has made us fell at home in her countryside B&B, she has made us eat half a kilo of meat each (it was her animals’ meat) and she has got us all in a good mood.
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