That’s what I thought when I first saw the tiny village of Castrovalva, perched high on a sliver of rock in The Apennines of Abruzzo. This was just last weekend and my journey there (accompanied by my dear friends Novelia and Peppe) had been planned at the last minute. My main mission was to visit La Porta di Parchi, an organic sheep and goat farm, also an agriturismo. It was late on a Friday afternoon and we were scoping out the farm and preparing for my interviews with Nunzio, the master shepherd, for the following morning. And, as good fortune would have it, we took a 45-minute side trip to Castrovalva. After all, you can see the village from La Porta di Parchi.
One access road and a population of fifteen people.
Yes, one steep road with lovely hairpin turns is the only way to reach the town. I thought to myself that surely this town would be cut off from all other people and services during the icy and snowy conditions of an Abruzzo winter. But, no, I was told that the roads are quickly cleared in such conditions.
So, why only fifteen inhabitants? That’s the big headscratcher. The views of vast, unspoiled land (much of it national parks) seem to be endless. The town is picturesque. When I entered Castrovalva, I felt as though I was walking into a fairytale setting. The town certainly doesn’t look like a ghost town. It’s quaint and clean. Beautiful vignettes are everywhere. The homes seem well maintained. And the two people we saw during our walk through town were incredibly friendly.
I would think people would be making a beeline to buy a home in this town. But, I guess its remote location and its height puts most people off. That’s too bad because, if peace, tranquility and over-the-top beauty are on your wishlist, you’d hit the jackpot here.
First historical mention of Castrovalva was in 1079
From historical documents. we know the town was in existence then. But, when was it actually born? I’m not sure anyone has the answer. We just know that it’s been around for a long, long time!
Take a brief tour with me…
Pour a cup of coffee, brew a cup of tea, or enjoy a glass of wine…and sit back for just over two minutes to walk the streets of Castrovalva with me, while stopping to take in stunning views. I hope, at the end of this video, you’ll put this town on your list of off-the-beaten-track gems in Italy.
And, stay tuned for an extensive four-part video story on La Porta di Parchi, another reason to make your way to Abruzzo!
My wife Gill and I climbed up from Anverssa and passed the site where Escher based his engraving. It was a beautiful hike and climb. When explained to some local men how we got there, they looked at Gill with her light shoes and purse and exclaimed “forte, forte!” We will never forget the trip. Thanks Jed and thanks Novellia for sending the video to us. Michael
Hi Michael, I love your story about your climb up to Castrovalva! I can only imagine the locals’ response to seeing Gill’s non-hiking attire.
Nice video Jed! And I looked up the Escher print. Lovely. Thanks.
Ciao Nancy, I wanted to include a photo of the print but didn’t feel that I could for copyright purposes. So glad you saw the print along with the video!
Rugged and beautiful….what a discovery! And it’s all the more interesting to know that this little town is visible from the next place that you will be featuring….in your next video/s. Btw, Amy and I watched, and rewatched, some of your videos on our TV tonight….once again….I want you to know that they look marvelous on the larger screen. Eccellente mio amico!
Ciao Kevin, I’m so relieved to know that the videos hold up on a larger screen. Especially with the story on Castrovalva, I bet it really “takes you there.” It’s an incredible “pinch myself” type of location. Abruzzo is such a spectacular location, but it suffers because people place their attention on the main thoroughfares. Grazie for you encouragement!
Grazie, Jed. È sempre un piacere leggere dei posti nuovi.
Grazie mille, Tammy! Sto facendo gli altri della storia del pastore!
Jed, I so enjoys your video blogs. Castrovalva is definitely on my must see list when I return to Sulmona next year.
Thank you, Eloise! Please write and tell me what your experience is like!
What an adorable village! And I just love Novelia’s comments. She is malto sympatico!! And I really like that buddy of yours’
Chip. Love his comments. Hugs to you and Simone xxo R and M
Ciao, Robin, Abruzzo isn’t too much of a haul for you! One day I hope you’ll check this place out for yourself! xoxox Jed
Thanks again for a great view into the Heart of Abruzzo!
There is no other way to enjoy Abruzzo than being guided by Pepe and Novelia
You’ve got that right, Rich. They are true gems, saints!
Love your beautiful stories and videos Jed. And thank you for taking us along on your beautiful journeys throughout Italy.
My pleasure, John. I so enjoy taking people deep into these places, many of which are under-appreciated.
Yes, dear Jed, Abruzzo is the hidden gem of Italy. You, with your passion and love of this region, are discovering more and more of what we have to offer to the visitors that decide to have an unforgettable experience in the Green Region of Europe. Castrovalva fits the description above, looking at it from the town of Anversa is like the NATIVITY that we have in our houses at Christmas time. I am sure your followers will love this other amazing articles and videos. No doubt that they will want to experiment and have the same sensations and emotions that you had in discovering this beautiful stone village where the time has stopped. Novelia, Peppe
Novelia and Peppe, I can’t help myself! You keep introducing me to these unforgettable places and experiences. I have not doubt that I’m just beginning to scratch the surface! Grazie mille per tutto! Jed
Wow! Thanks for the superlatives! Castrovalva delivers the goods, I just point my camera and take it all in!
Wow! Thanks Jed! Perhaps next year for a jaunt down your way. Good video too. Have a great rest of your week! Oh, I just returned from a month in Clemson and the mountains. Dodged both Hurricanes Florence and Michael.
Whew! Glad you made it through unscathed! Glad you like the post and video! Good thoughts! Jed