The territory of Teramo, located on the border between Marche and Abruzzo, hosts a series of enchanting natural landscapes that, within a few kilometers, lead from the mountains to the Adriatic Sea. Particular mention should be made of the Gemini Mountains, two almost identical rocky giants known as the Mountain of Campli and the Mountain of Flowers, located near the fortress-city of Civitella del Tronto; the two are separated by a river, the Salinello that, in the course of its history, has given rise to extraordinary natural gorges egrotte incredible transformed, gradually, in real tourist attractions. Let’s find out together.
The Gorges of Salinello were established in 1990, as a Protected Natural Reserve, belong to the territory of the National Park of Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga and, currently, are managed by the Cooperative Verdelaga, which also organizes many interesting guided tours.
Features of the Gorges of Salinello
The water of the river, during its millennial course, has dug a large canyon that, at its narrowest point, reports a width of a few meters and is surrounded by rock walls more than 200 meters high. The entire route is characterized by the presence of deposits of mycritic marly limestone that form wide escarpments and, in some places, even small natural pools. In summer, in fact, it is possible to take a regenerating bath in the river, taking into account the thermal change, since the temperature of its waters never exceeds 16 ºC.
All the surrounding area, instead, hosts numerous caves of karst nature and hermitages of ancient origins that, together, offer visitors a breathtaking spectacle, rich in history and wild nature. Just a few steps from the reserve, then, there are the remains of Castel Manfrino, a fortification of the late Middle Ages, in the town of Macchia del Sole in the municipality of Valle Castellana.
History of the Gorges of Salinello
Just before the start of the Gorges of Salinello there is the Grotto of Sant’Angelo, dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel, inside which relics dating back 6 thousand years ago were found.
This cave dug into the rock, inhabited by man since the Upper Paleolithic, is one of the most important prehistoric Italian. It houses a precious stratigraphic wall 3 meters high with small tips of arrows, cylinders carved in bone, blades and scrapers carved by prehistoric man with archaic boar bone and many hand-painted ceramics.
It was a place of worship of the pagans, in the cave there were propitiatory rites for fertility, as the numerous human bone remains, mainly belonging to very young individuals, suggest.
With the advent of Christianity, the cave takes on a religious value so that, in 1236, inside it was erected an altar dedicated to the Archangel Michael. Of the same period are also some hermitages located in other points of the reserve, such as the hermitage of Santa Maria Scalena and the hermitage of San Francesco alle Scalelle.
The whole area has always had a very strong historical importance: for many centuries, in fact, it marked the border between the Church State and the Bourbon Kingdom and represented the war scenario between the two powers.
The Cave Museum of Sant’Angelo
The Grotta di Sant’Angelo also houses a small museum entirely dedicated to the beautiful history of the cave and the Gorges of Salinello. The cave is a place of worship from the Neolithic, when probably the devotion was due to the Mother Earth and the cult of the waters. The Church has come down to us with the Christian altar of which we have spoken.
The museum is directly connected to the Ripe Visitor Center of Civitella, not far away, and offers visitors a suggestive and impeccable reconstruction of a prehistoric hut, recreated especially for educational purposes.
Excursions to the Gorges of Salinello
The Gorges of Salinello are an excellent destination for all those who like to make excursions and walks in the open air, especially during the spring season; in this period, in fact, the river is overflowing and you can admire it in all its beauty. In summer, however, the water level tends to decrease, so its crossing is easier and more affordable for everyone.
The environment that characterizes the territory is very varied and this allows you to offer different types of excursions and routes, to be chosen especially based on your experience and your physical endurance.
The path to Castel Manfrino
Once you reach the hamlet of Ripe and have parked the car in the parking space, you can start the path that leads to Castel Manfrino: after a long dirt path, the walk continues downhill until the road turns out to be more bumpy and leads to a path with a protective fence; continuing you arrive in a few minutes to the Grotto of Sant’Angelo, which can be visited by reservation.
After passing the cave, you reach a junction: taking the marked path you arrive, at the end, at Castel Manfrino, a ruin located on a rock spur 900 meters high, from which you can enjoy a sensational panoramic view.
The path to the Great Waterfall
If at the junction, however, continue down the path, going down a steep staircase protected by a fence and turning left you get to the most beautiful waterfall of the Gorges of Salinello.
The place is called “Lu Cacchema”, that is “the pot”; here is the majestic waterfall, 35 meters high, whose waters form a small green lake surrounded by white rocks.
Gorges of Salinello and canyoning
The activity that visitors love to do at the Gorges of Salinello is undoubtedly the canyoning that, thanks to the scenery offered by the place, is particularly adrenaline and exciting!
The guided excursions last about 4 and a half hours, through paths of medium difficulty from the technical point of view; obviously, all those who want to live this experience must be able to swim and wear safety equipment.
After breaking the ice, canyoning is simply exciting: you struggle between some particularly narrow sections alternating with imposing rocks, you cross waterfalls and pools of water and, in some places, you can even dive.
What to eat at the Gorges of Salinello
At the Gole del Salinello, or rather near it, you can enjoy the best of the Abruzzo culinary tradition, characterized by simple flavors and ingredients of peasant origin.
The typical dishes not to be missed are the following:
- Arrosticini: made of sheep meat and then cooked on the grill, are among the most popular street food and loved not only in Abruzzo, but throughout Italy;
- Pallotte cacio e ova: these are real meatballs made of eggs and cheese;
- ventricina: consists of a raw pork sausage fermented long-seasoned cut with a knife tip;
- pipindune and dove: the classic snack of those who wake up early in the morning to work the ground, made with friggitelli (ie the classic red peppers) cooked in a pan with a little oil and accompanied by lightly beaten eggs;
- spaghetti alla chitarra: prepared with durum wheat flour and water, they are always calloused and al dente;
- scrippelle ‘nbusse: these are pancakes made from milk, eggs, flour and salt that, once cooked, are sprinkled with grated cheese, rolled up like cannelloni, cooked and served in chicken broth;
- sagne e fasciul: they consist of a sort of maltagliati prepared with water and flour, to be served mainly with beans;
- fish broth: it is made with poor fish and sometimes mussels, clams and crustaceans;
- cicerchiata: these are small balls of fried dough and then sprinkled with honey and sugar, very similar to Neapolitan struffoli;
- Fiadoni: similar to stuffed ravioli, they are prepared with flour, eggs, oil and white wine, while the filling is made of hard cheese. They are baked in the oven and served as an appetizer for Easter.
Obviously, the typical dishes just listed must be categorically accompanied by tasty and adequate local wines; Abruzzo, among other things, is among the regions of Italy that boasts a wide wine production, loved and known all over the world. Its strong points are undoubtedly Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and Pecorino. Wines for all tastes to drink responsibly.