Calascio and its fortress

Calascio e la sua Rocca, panorama
Il Castello

The fortress of Calascio probably originates from a small Roman garrison placed in control of the territory just substracted from the local Vestini. The relative peace guaranteed by the military fostered the creation of scattered settlements of shepherds and farmers who inhabited the surrounding valleys.

With the end of the Roman Empire, continuous barbarian raids and, later, Saracen raids, people were forced to seek refuge on the high ground, building fortified towns. Under the original nucleus they built tower houses several levels high, close to one another to form a defensive wal .

Rocca Calascio
L'abitato di Calascio

Around the year one thousand the early fiefdoms began to appear. Rocca Calascio was part of the Barony of Carapelle which over the centuries had several lords including Antonio Piccolomini who built the four towers around the original tower and the wall around the village.

After the establishment of the "Dogana della mena delle pecore in Puglia” (Customs of the sheep’s lead in Apulia) the main source of income for the Barony was the massive production of high-quality wool that supplied cities like Florence and L'Aquila.

Calascio e la rocca, panorama

Meanwhile, below Rocca Calascio on the mountain side, arose the town of Calascio probably around churches built on the crossroads of the mountain routes.

In the second half of '500 , the Barony of Carapelle was bought by the Medici, another powerful Tuscan family , evidently interested in the excellent production of wool.

The terrible earthquake of 1703 destroyed the village of Rocca Calascio, and most of the people preferred to move to the village below. The decrease in population lasted until the middle of the last century when the last family left the old village in 1957. The castle of Calascio had the main role to control and protect the transhumant in one of the most important routes .

Roccacalascio, oratorio di Santa Maria della Pietà

Even today you can admire the castle that looks like a natural extension of the rocks on top of the mount .

From a height of about 1500 meters your gaze sweeps over breathtaking views: from the Maiella massif with Morrone to Sirente and Velino to the mountains of the Abruzzo National Park, then the tormented morphology of the territory that leads the eye towards Campo Imperatore and the Gran Sasso chain; and again towards the east with the whole valley of the Tiryns river. Some tens of meters away from the fortress is the unusual octagonal church of Santa Maria della Pietà which, it is said , was built by shepherds in thanksgiving for the victory of soldiers in a bloody fight with bandits coming from the neighboring Papal State.

The place is known to the general public, perhaps due to the fact that Rocca Calascio is the subject of numerous film sets, including the wonderful tale, set in the Middle Ages, " Lady Hawke ". In every season, many people come to take pictures at the castle, which is always immersed in a magical light, or to walk in the dizzying silence of the village ruins.

Further down Calascio, a well preserved stone village, full of little streets and stairways which are overlooked by tower-houses, patrician mansions, churches' chests of works of art (Santa Maria delle Grazie in the picture), all evidence of the ancient wealth produced by the “armentizie” activities .

la Rocca di Calascio

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