The majella national park
The Majella National Park covers about 80 thousand hectares and it is located among the provinces of Chieti, Pescara and L’Aquila. The park consists of four main mountain ranges: the Majella massif, which has the highest elevations (Monte Amaro 2,795 m, Monte Acquaviva 2,737 m,etc.), the Morrone massif, the wooded Pizzi mountains and Porrara mountains, Rotella and Pizzalto, now close to the National Park of Abruzzo. Pretoro is located in the north-eastern part of the Majella, an area rich in beech woods, meadows, mugo pine formations, valuable fauna and flora. Here it is possible to take more challenging walks or excursions. The changeability of the landscape is extreme, and it is possible to find, in the wild valleys, ancient testimonies of shepherds, even brigands, a sign of an ancient and assiduous human frequentation of the mountain massif. The extraordinary mutability of the landscape and the abundance of historical testimonies make Majella a unique place in Italy. With a bit of luck here you can spot chamois, deer, roe deer, wild boar, golden eagles and wolves.
THE MYTH OF MAJA
For Abruzzo the Maiella massif is the Mother and the deep bond that exists between it and the inhabitants of villages situated on its slopes, including Pretoro, has its roots in the legend. The tale begins with Maja, the most beautiful of the seven Pleadi, who escaped from Phrygia to arrive in Abruzzo woods with his son Hermes, a giant born from the love of Maja and Zeus. The two were looking for a miraculous herb that only grew on this territory so they could save the giant badly wounded in battle. The search turned out to be in vain since the snow covered every corner of the ground. Ermes died and his distraught mother buried him on the Gran Sasso mountain, where even today the profile of the sleeping giant can be admired. The beautiful Pleade, tortured by the grief, wandered incessantly until she exhaled her last breath worn out from crying. She was found by shepherds who buried her adorning the place of aromatic herbs and colorful flowers. From that day the mountain on which the Pleade was buried took its name: Majella (or Maiella) and took the form of a woman petrified by pain bent over herself with her gaze fixed on the sea. On windy days, in the woods and in the valleys you can still hear his moans today.
THE FORO VALLEY
The Foro River is one of the most important rivers of the Majella, which has a constant flow rate and has excellent quality water. The river originates in the area of the Municipality of Pretoro, has a length of 35 km that allows it to touch 24 municipalities and then flow into the Adriatic Sea at a point between Francavilla al Mare and Ortona. The Foro River has several small tributaries. What is more, the entire basin is fed from a single source located at the transition between the mountain area and the foothills of the Municipality of Pretoro.
THE ROCK MILLS
Along the Foro Valley, hosted by the municipality of Pretoro, there are rare examples of industrial architecture: the rock mills. These are water mills completely made from rock; their origin is very ancient, the first written attestations date back to 1059 and treat their donation to the Benedictine monks of San Salvatore a Maiella. The mills are mentioned, in the second half of the 1700s, also in the correspondence of the Colonna family, feudatory of the village. Active until the advent of the Second World War, they can still be visited in all their incredible uniqueness.
THE ASINARA BEECH WOOD
The background to the typical excursion which is suggested to tourists are the stunning beech woods of Majelletta. The trees, tall and straight, the leaves and the mushrooms greet visitors among the scents and lights of the wood. In fall, the afternoon humidity pushes the salamanders out of hiding by offering an exciting show. In fact, here is the spotted salamander and the valuable spectacled salamander. The Asinara waterfall, unfortunately often with scarce water flows, reveals all its beauty in winter, when the rock and ice create bold sculptures, made up of columns, stalactites and stalagmites.