In living memory the Maiella represents the Mother mountains to the Abruzzo people. In ancient time it was sacred to the goddess Maja; in the Middle Age it became a place of prayer to numerous hermits amongst these was the famous Pietro Angeleri, who then became Pope Celestino V. In that period hermitages and abbeys flourished numerously.
Among the abbeys we can remember S.Liberatore a Maiella, and among the hermitages the most famous is S.Spirito a Maiella.
(Foto C. Crisante)
The National Park of the Maiella was established in 1992 and covers about 75.000 hectares in the provinces of Pescara, Chieti and L’Aquila involving 39 communes.
The rounded massif of the Maiella is very characteristic. Similar to a magnificent elliptical dome, it dominates the Abruzzo countryside. The western side, being without valleys, is furrowed by wide screes that push as far as the beechwoods, whereas the eastern side is more rounded but cut by gorges and deep valleys.
Apart from the principal peak, Monte Amaro (2795 m. the second peak of the Apennines), there are another thirty that go above the 2000 metres.
The charm of the Maiella is increased by deep valley, real and true “canyons” and by vast mountain peak plateaus above 2000 metres, such as Valle di Femmina Morta. Most frequent is the phenomenon of karsification, evidenced by the numerous grottoes such as Grotta del Cavallone.
On the Maiella there is clear evidence of the different covering of vegetation.
Firstly there are woods of oaks, maples, hornbeams and manna.ash; higher up, towards 1000 metres, we find beechwoods. Almost everywhere you can find the yellow Laburnum, so flourishing that you can almost believe the hypothesis that the word Maiella comes from majo, an old name the local population gave to this plant. Higher up, towards 1700 metres, there are thick formation of shrub, mountain pine, unique in the Peninsular Italy.
|Amaro plane |
On the Maiella you can count over 1700 plant species, amongst which the Maiella aquilegia, the Maiella soldanella, the Maiella gentian, the Maiella viola and the Venus’s little shoe, a nice wild orchid.
The park’s wildlife is represented by the wolf, the marsican brown bear, chamois, red-deer, roe-deer, and 130 species of bird including the peregrine hawk, golden eagle, goshawk, and eagle-owl.