Here we are in Capua to begin this seventh stage of the Giro d'Italia. A city of ancient origins, it was rebuilt in the year 856 following the destruction of "Capua Vetere" by the Saracens. With the arrival of the Normans and with Frederick II of Swabia, the city became an important administrative centre and with the Anjou presence, it was enriched with noble palaces and religious buildings.
Capua encapsulates centuries of history within a few hundred metres: churches ranging from the Lombard period to the late Baroque, Roman antiquities and palaces. The Benedictine Basilica of Sant'Angelo in Formis, with its frescoes, testifies to the high cultural level of the city surrounded by the Volturno river, guarded by Mount Tifata and protected by a powerful wall.
The richness of Capua and its surrounding area is echoed by the delicacies of a fertile and flourishing land: buffalo mozzarella, melons, artichokes and cheeses, as well as Casavecchia and Pallagrello wines, are just some of the products of this ancient land.
Before leaving Campania, we cannot fail to mention the nearby Caserta, with its beautiful old town, a medieval village of great charm, and the splendid Reggia, a UNESCO heritage site dating back to 1752 and the work of the architect Luigi Vanvitelli, historically belonging to the Bourbon family.
Leaving Capua, the route enters Molise through the magnificent town of Venafro, which, with its urban setting, follows the structure of the ancient Roman settlement, and then arrives in Abruzzo, Castel di Sangro.
A harsh and barren territory leads us to Roccaraso and, passing through Sulmona, which is famous for its confetti (sugar-coated almonds), we reach the 1,190 metres of Calascio, the gateway to the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park. From here, the gaze roams from the Valle del Tirino to the Navelli plain, admiring a breathtaking panorama. The park lends itself to different activities: from excursions along the various dedicated routes, on foot, on horseback or by mountain bike, to food and wine tours.
The local oil and, above all, saffron have made these places famous; otherwise, they are mostly dedicated to sheep farming.
With another bit of effort, and along a hard and steep road, we climb up to the 2,130 metres of Campo Imperatore, where we can enjoy a well-deserved rest, perhaps enjoying the famous Castel del Monte canestrato, the award-winning pecorino hard cheese, a slow food product.