Orange Flag of the Italian Touring Club
The village of Palena dominates the upper Aventino valley, tucked away between the Porrara and Coccia mountains, in the Maiella National Park. Its origins are medieval and can be found in the historic centre, with distinctive views, stone arches and portals, dominated by the 11th-century ducal castle, which today houses the Alto Aventino Geo-Paleontological Museum, with a wealth of fossils and linked to the geo-site at the Aventino springs.
Near the Municipal Square, the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary is worth a visit, with a beautiful 16th century rose window and, inside, paintings and sculptures of great interest. Also of interest is the small Aventine Theatre, the Madonna dell'Altare hermitage in a panoramic setting at an altitude of 1,272 metres, and the Marsican Brown Bear Fauna Area, where you can get a close-up view of three species of bears in semi-freedom and visit the museum.
Today, Palena is also known as the town of orchids: there are 64 species and subspecies in the municipality of Palena, amounting to over 60% of those in Abruzzo and over 35% of those in Italy, to which 17 stabilised hybrids can be added. Themed events, excursions and "field" observations are organised on a regular basis to fully enjoy the beauty of these flowers and the area in which they grow.
After excursions and cultural visits, it is time for food, which here is celebrated with fresh homemade pastries. Sagne stracciate are the traditional first course of the farmers of Palena. The pasta, "torn" from a sheet of dough, is topped with pancetta and pecorino cheese, for a simple but very tasty dish.