In Abruzzo, in L’Aquila province, there is a medieval village considered among the most fascinating of Italy: we’re talking about Rocca Calascio, known throughout the world for its beautiful medieval castle.
The fortress foundation dates back to 1000, although the first historical document that attests the presence dates from 1380. In 1703 the castle was devastated by a violent earthquake, after which the highest area of the village was abandoned and much of the population moved to Calascio village, whose birth is linked to the fortress destruction. In the twentieth century, the last remaining families left the village and the fortress remained uninhabited. At the end of the century, however, some houses have been recovered and others have been converted to accommodation. The castle has been restored and consolidated and now it is one of the most important tourist attractions of the area.
The castle, which dominates Tirino valley and Navelli plateau, isn’t far from Campo Imperatore plain; it is situated on a ridge at 1,460 meters above sea level, in a very favorable position; it’s been used in the past as a military observation point.
The structure, made entirely of white stone slabs, consists of a central structure, a crenellated wall in pebbles and four corner towers with a circular base. Access is through an opening on the east side at about five meters from the ground, which is accessed through a wooden ramp, originally retractable.
Rocca Calascio village, located near the castle, along the path that leads from Santo Stefano di Sessanio village to Calascio, makes a unique fortified body with the castle.
Its development is linked to the modest size of the castle and to the need to protect the population from invaders and pirate assaults. The connection to the castle is through a wooden drawbridge, now replaced by a simple ramp.
Near the fortress, on the path that leads to Santo Stefano di Sessanio, there is the church of Santa Maria della Pietà, a small temple built between the XVI and XVII century on the site where, according to a legend, local inhabitants had defeated a gang of robbers.
The church, probably founded on a previous Renaissance construction, presents an external octagonal structure and an eight cloves dome. The interior, divided on a Tuscan pilasters system, presents a painting of the Miraculous Virgin and a St. Michael’s armed sculpture.
Since the eighties of the twentieth century Rocca Calascio has been used as the setting for numerous films, including “Lady Hawke” and “Il Nome della Rosa”.