The Bosco di Sant'Antonio, Abruzzo: a fairytale world
Always synonymous with fairytale landscapes for its centuries-old 'candelabra' beech trees, the Bosco di Sant'Antonio was considered a sacred forest dedicated to Jupiter in classic times and only during the Middle Ages was dedicated to the Saint to whom it is still dedicated today.
One of Abruzzo's most beautiful beech forests covering 17 hectares, the Bosco di Sant'Antonio is located in the municipality of Pescocostanzo, at the foot of the Majella between the ridges of Monte Pizzalto and Monte Rotella. Centuries-old beech trees in the most bizarre shapes dominate this Nature Reserve, but in the area it is not difficult to spot field maple, wild pear, cherry, black hornbeam and yew.
In the forest, anemones, peonies, primroses, cyclamens, gentians and the rare orchid Epipactis purpurata bloom, adding to the fairytale feel of this protected area populated by the rare white-backed woodpecker, Dalmatian woodpecker and small collared flycatcher. It is not uncommon to spot small mammals and other animals that are very widespread in Abruzzo, such as wolves, bears and wildcats.
The Majella National Park and the hermitage of Sant'Antonio
The forest was for a long time protected as a regional reserve, but since 1992 it has become part of the Majella National Park and also because of this it has seen an increase in the number of visitors who choose it every year during the summer for excursions and horseback riding. During the winter, however, the Bosco di Sant'Antonio turns into an attractive destination for cross-country skiing.
Visiting the Bosco di Sant'Antonio and walking the path leading to the hermitage dating back to the 14th-15th centuries requires no special skills. A 2.8-kilometre loop trail with a total height difference of 70 metres, easily covered in less than an hour and well protected by the shade of the beech trees.
The large green lawns and wooden tables positioned in different areas of the forest also make it the perfect place for picnics and relaxing afternoons with the whole family.