The Rugged, noble Gran Sasso, whose gleaming limestone commands the Apennines; just below the north face of the Big Horn we find the Calderone, the only Apennine glacier and the most southerly of Europe. To the south of the massif lies the boundless plain of Campo Imperatore, situated at 1800 meters above sea level. The Laga Mountains are rich of sources, streams and forests.
Mount Majella, bound to the Morrone massif, dominates the landscape of Abruzzo rising between the sea and the Apennines; since a long time it represents for the Abruzzo citizens the mother mountain. Between the mountains and the sea, the hills have clear signs of their continual evolution, with clay slipping into the valley, where badlands etch away the curves of the horizon.
Campo Imperatore is a huge karst plateau (over 15 km. Long and 5 meters wide), compared by many to a "little Tibet". It is located in the Gran Sasso National Park and Monti della Laga, in the heart of the highest mountain of the Apennines, at an altitude that ranges from a minimum of 1,700 / 1,800 m. to a maximum of more than 2,150 m For thousands of years its endless pastures have fed the herds that were stationing during the summer period, before migrating, through the famous "sheep tracks" (grassy natural route marked by the passage of transhumant herds), to the mild Tavoliere of Puglie Region.
Today Campo Imperatore is one of the most popular tourist destination in the region and during winter season it becomes a featured ski resort in the Apennine landscape. During the winter months, in fact, snow is the absolute master of the territory and facilities are only accessible via a 100-seat cable car (inaugurated in 1934), which in 7 minutes covers about 3,250 m. separating Fonte Cerreto (1,150 m. above sea level) from the square (2,130 m. above sea level) in front of the historical hotel where Mussolini was imprisoned in 1943. A few dozen meters far from the hotel there is the Astronomical Observatory, one of the most important in Italy, and a rich Botanical Garden. From the hotel fore court it starts a narrow, steep path that in less than one hour leads to 2,388 m. Cresta della Portella, where there is Rifugio Duca degli Abruzzi.
The area in which Costa dei Trabocchi lies, is made even more fascinating by the presence of numerous villages perched, in a stunningly unspoiled natural scenery, on the summit of the heights overlooking the coast.
Among the most interesting towns in the area, strongly affected by heavy bombing of the last world war, it is to mention the ancient Vasto, a city of art of great historical-artistic interest and the village of Rocca San Giovanni, a town inserted between "The most Beautiful Villages of Italy".
The long and spectacular coastline stretching from Ortona to San Salvo, where the large golden sandy beaches of Teramo and Pescara Riviera are replaced by a varied and jagged coastline that culminates, not far from Molise, with steep cliffs of Punta Erce, it is characterized by the presence of numerous suggestive stilt houses called "trabocchi". The origin of these extraordinary fishing machines, like giant spiders hanging over the sea and joined to the mainland by rickety wooden walkways that stubbornly resist the fury of the waves, is unknown, but their presence on these shores seem to be already documented at the beginning of the thirteenth century. At the foot of the beautiful promontory of Capo Turchino, in the territory of S. Vito Chietino, there is the famous Trabocco of Turchino, "the big fisherman's machine, similar to the colossal skeleton of an antediluvian amphibious" described by Gabriele D\'Annunzio in the novel \'The triumph of Death \'.The area in which the Costa dei Trabocchi lies, is made even more fascinating by the presence of numerous villages perched, in a stunningly unspoiled natural scenery, on the summit of the heights overlooking the coast.
Santo Stefano di Sessanio
The village is located in the hinterland, in the southern part of the Gran Sasso of Italy, beneath the vast plain of Campo Imperatore, in a panoramic position towards the Tirino Valley on one side and low on Conca Aquilana , in the other side, at a slightly higher altitude than 1200 m s.l.m. You can reach it from the highway 17 turning near Barisciano or, alternatively, or from St. Pio delle Camere, or from Ofena-Capestrano. From the north you can also reach the village by crossing Campo Imperatore and passing the pass Capo di Serre or from Vado di Sole (then via Capo di Serre) coming from Castelli or Farindola. A paved road reaches the south-west of Campo Imperatore.