When to go to Passo San Leonardo
A rather common mistake of us “polentoni” of the north, accustomed to Alpine Passes, is to underestimate the shares of those in the Apennines! The Massif of Majella, instead, it has all the characteristics of the mountain route at high altitude. It follows that if you don't particularly like staying in the snow and chattering your teeth, it is best to enjoy this itinerary by motorbike in spring, summer even autumn, but checking the forecasts. Remember that you will pass by ski resorts and also by Roccacaramanico which has the curious distinction of being the snowiest country in Italy.
Road and distances
The hypothesis of an itinerary that I propose is about 130 km starting from Chieti but, as often happens, you can add kilometers if you want because there is no shortage of opportunities. It is more difficult to remove and the only possible cut is in the part avoiding the Lanciano Pass and choosing the path downstream. It is also easy to make a ring and once you reach Campo di Giove or Roccaraso go back on the SS84 towards Taranta Peligna (here are the Caves of the Cavallone), Pennadimonte and away again towards Chieti. By doing so, you will go around the Majella without redoing the way you started.
What to see on the Majella?
In addition to the natural spectacle of the Majella landscapes, along the itinerary there is no shortage of opportunities to stop. Already the city of Chieti provides many pre-departure insights, dalla Cathedral of San Giustino all’Roman amphitheater to the Marrucino Theater. Passed the Passo Lanciano, before Roccamorice you can make a little detour for the’Hermitage of Santo Spirito and you can also consider a stop in the beautiful village of Caramanico, maybe for a trip to Term. Following the SR487 you will also find yourself a short distance from the ruins of Roccacaramanico, it may be worth a stop. Dopo il Passo San Leonardo you can also treat yourself to a detour to Sulmona, at last Pescocostanzo a Roccaraso it is very pleasant. Finally there is Castel di Sangro, not to be underestimated at all.
Itinerary in brief
That through the Majella and the Passo San Leonardo it is an introspective journey to be savored slowly like the exquisite dishes of these places. We face hungry and with a smile therefore a small trip of 130 km in the heart of the Apennines around the Majella Massif, second in altitude only to the nearby Gran Sasso, aware that we will spend the whole day at our disposal.
Let's start from the capital Chieti, city that preserves evident symbols of its great history such as the Roman Amphitheater, the Cathedral of San Giustino or the Marrucino Theater. Prima di partire, perciò, let's look around us because the city deserves. Instead of the more modern way (and fast) across the plain that would lead us to Alanno Scalo, we immediately aim the climb to Passo Lanciano to get to Roccamorice. The locality is known above all for its wastes Celestinian like that of Santo Spirito which we can reach with a small detour.
We can then enjoy a stop in the beautiful village of Caramanico Terme. Ora, if you are not particularly in a hurry, maybe you can take advantage of the spa town for an extended stop. After Caramanico and the ruins of Roccacaramanico, the curves of the Majella take us to Passo San Leonardo (1.282 masl), heart of this path. We therefore continue to Campo di Giove after which, if time permits and greed requires it, we can detour towards Sulmona and its prized confetti. Otherwise we follow the SS84 in a relaxed way up to the ski resorts of Roccaraso a 1.236 meters above sea level and from here we have the option of descending to Castel di Sangro – as I have foreseen in this itinerary – or turn around the Majella and return quietly to Chieti after having seen the Caves of the Cavallone in Taranta Peligna.