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Car trip for conquerors and dreamers between Lazio and Abruzzo.

A route for drivers along scenic provincial roads connecting ancient castles and evocative hermitages.

21 July 2022

Over the centuries, fortifications, places of worship, castles and hermitages were built all over Italy. Many of these, despite the passing of time, have come down to the present day in excellent condition, testifying to the eras and dominations of the past. They can be enjoyed in various ways, from a simple visit to longer stays.

The castle of Santa Severa, on the coast near Rome, stands in all its splendour between the beach and the sea. Over the centuries, it has seen merchant ships arrive and depart to and from the entire Mediterranean, replete with the flavours and aromas of distant lands. The chance to stay overnight in such unique settings is incredible, precisely where explorers, merchants and conquerors once slept, in the wing that is now a hostel. The museum portion of the castle, on the other hand, is home to the Museum of the Sea and Ancient Navigation: here, seven completely renovated halls host an exhibition and educational path focused on underwater archaeology and ancient navigation. There is testimony from the nearby seabed and the ancient Etruscan port of Pyrgi. Leaving Latium to cross into Abruzzo, choose the consular roads of the ancient Empire; Flaminia and Salaria unfold over hilly landscapes of great beauty; the car trip will take you through ancient villages and small towns where you can stop for a tasty break. Everywhere you will find an "osteria" or a "trattoria", often family-run and ideal for something to eat and drink during the journey.

Driving towards the Gran Sasso d'Italia, you will discover mountain scenarios of astonishing impact, with streams often running alongside the roads, where green woods alternate with rocky scenery.

At Sulmona, allow yourself a moment of introspection and meditation by visiting the hermitage of Sant'Onofrio al Morrone. Commissioned by Pope Celestine V, it is perched like an eagle's nest on the side of the mountain and offers a unique view over the Peligna Valley and the Gran Sasso d'Italia and Sirente-Velino mountain chains. Everyday life imposes such a fast pace and constant commitment, so moments when you can unplug in such evocative settings are a gift no one should underestimate. 

From one castle by the sea to another, our short journey ends on reaching the shores of the Adriatic. Guided by the soul of the conqueror, get back behind the wheel and set off for Ortona, a small town near Chieti where the castle fortress built by the Aragones in the 1400s overlooks the sea and the trabocchi fishing posts along the coast. This dominant position over the local area was a sign of power and its charm has remained unchanged over time. One of the towers is home today to a small museum with period works of art and furnishings that once belonged to the noble families who lived here over the centuries. Need to stretch your legs a little before getting back in the car for the return trip? Why not jump on a bicycle: there is a fine cycle path that connects the Castle with the Ortona coastline. A day of many exciting moments is nearly over - and it may be a good idea to stay in the area overnight - there are many hotels, b&bs, pensions and camp sites. A fish dinner looking out over the sea, a good sleep and the trip back in the morning. Happiness.

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