The weather on our Summer holiday had been insanely hot so, when the temperature dropped to 30 degrees, we decided it would be a good time to return to Rocca Calascio. We visited for the first time last Summer and this gorgeous landscape and castle, which was actually a fortress, stuck in our memories. Otherwise known as Ladyhawke Castle, as it was featured in the Michelle Pfeiffer/Matthew Broderick film of the same name, Rocca Calascio perches majestically in the Gran Sasso National Park, overlooking Navelli.
We had purposefully chosen a Tuesday for our outing because the Italians were not on holiday yet and we wanted to visit the castle when it would be relatively quiet.
As we turned right, off the main road in the valley, to start our ascent on the mountain roads, the journey was almost as beautiful as the destination. Glancing below at the miniature towns, where fields appeared as a patchwork quilt of golds, greens and russet tones, the sky was cornflower blue and the landscape was, to put it simply, epic. I kept expecting to see a bear or wolf, or a bear and wolf together, perhaps having a picnic (or so I told the children). Our 7 year old insisted more than once that day that he was fairly sure he saw a bear. I haven’t seen either yet, but I am sure one day I will. Optimistic.
We arrived at the town of Calascio, parked our car and began our walk to the castle.
As we reached what must have been the original town, we noticed an outdoor seating area and what appeared to be a cafe. We went inside to see if we could get refreshments and discovered it was indeed a beautiful restaurant (Rifugio della Rocca). There are also rooms available, should you wish to stay. We made a mental note to return for lunch on our next trip.
We have been asked how difficult the terrain is for children. Our 7 and 3 year old both managed the hike up to the castle. There are some uneven steps in the old town and some rocky paths, but our boys managed these just fine. It was a little tricky in a couple of places when we reached the castle, where the steps/rocks were larger, so my husband picked our 3 year old up. However, if you are watching your children, or holding their hand and taking your time, it is fine and perfectly manageable. Good walking shoes/boots, or trainers are a must.
When you reach the top, where the castle is, the views are breathtaking. This time, we were able to enter the castle.
We carefully made our way up the narrow staircase, all the way to the rooftop.
It was certainly worth the effort. The fortress was interesting, but it is it’s setting that makes this place special. The fortress changes when the light alters with the sun and the cloud. I imagine this place to be stunning in the Autumn and Winter.
There is not a lot more I can say about Rocca Calascio, except if you have the chance to go, please do. Some people think once you have seen one mountain or castle, you have seen them all, but I never tire of either and this quote sums it up for me:
“If one tries to think about history, it seems to me – it’s like looking at a range of mountains. And the first time you see them, they look one way. But then time changes, the pattern of light shifts. Maybe you’ve moved slightly, your perspective has changed. The mountains are the same, but they look very different.” Robert Harris