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Rocca Calascio in the Gran Sasso. Soaring fortifications in the Abruzzo National Park

Tuesday, 25 January 2022 10:06

Rocca Calascio is an Italian village in the province of L'Aquila in Abruzzo, inside the National Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga Park.  At an altitude of 1,460 meters, it is among the highest fortifications in Italy.

The attractions that most amaze visitors are undoubtedly the castle, the Church of Santa Maria della Pietà and the ancient village which is now uninhabited. And thanks to its wonderful position there are truly sublime views.

The old castle had a working drawbridge

Located in a very favourable position from a defensive point of view, the castle was used as a military observation point, and communicated with other towers and castles as far as the Adriatic Sea, using flashlights by night and mirrors during the day. The original fortress is in white limestone on a square plan and has four cylindrical towers at the corners and a square keep in the center. Access was across a wooden bridge. In ancient times this was a working drawbridge but today it is supported on stone brackets.

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The 1703 earthquake destroyed the castle and the village 

At the foot of the castle what is now an abandoned village was connected to the fortress with a wooden drawbridge, today replaced by a simple ramp. The earthquake of 1703 destroyed most of the castle and the village, forcing the inhabitants to abandon their homes. Now, thanks to restoration carried out between 1986 and 1989 the castle can be visited again also thanks to the work put in by the many people who love the Abruzzo mountains and contributed to the recovery of the site.

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A movie set for Sean Connery and George Clooney 

The Church of Santa Maria della Pietà in the vicinity of the castle is a small temple with a rather singular shape, reminiscent of the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Florence. It was erected between the 16th and 17th centuries on a site where, according to legend, the local population got the better of a band of brigands who regularly plundered their property. Rocca Calascio and its castle are famous for having hosted movie sets such as The Name of the Rose with Sean Connery and Lady Hawke with Michelle Pfeiffer. More recently it was the set for the RAI television series Padre Pio and for The American with George Clooney.  

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