One recommended Abruzzo gentle springtime valley walk, tracing the footsteps of Lucrezia Borgia no less, is around the nature reserve of Fiume Fiumetto.
Set in a Teramo valley and looked down upon favourably by the Corno Grande, bounded between Colledara, the medieval village of Castiglione della Valle and up to the hill village of Basicanella, the Fiume Fiumetto Reserve covers 74 hectares and spans 4km of the River Fiumetto. At its highest the reserve arches 500 masl stretching out to the small hill village of Bascianella – a great spot for taking photographs of the Corno Grande; at its lowest just 245 masl. It’s not a serious hike or climb but perfect for those seeking something more of a gentle walk in Abruzzo broken up by delicate stream waterfalls.
Whilst the rest of Europe’s bio-diversity is falling at an alarming rate, this little reserve is an oasis of tranquillity for species that include everyone’s favourite, the dormouse. Other local dwellers here include weasels, stone martens, badgers and foxes. If you are birding in Abruzzo a walk here will allow you encounters with Green Woodpecker, Heron, Kingfisher, Short-Toed Tree Creeper, Chaffinch, White & Yellow Wagtail, Buzzard, Kestrel and Barn-owl. All are attracted to the wonderful bio-diversity of trees & marshes contained on the reserve. Expect to walk through woodlands of Ash, Black & White Hornbeam, Willow, Poplar, Dogwood, Hawthorn; interestingly there are also British Oaks, left from the last ice age and one of the only places left to find them in Abruzzo.
Spring and Autumn are our favourite seasons to visit, parking at Castiglione della Valle itself. In a similar way to Santo Stefano, this little village is an example of how the Italian government could consider sympathetically the restoration of L’Aquila. Walking down through the village you can choose to walk in the direction of Tossicia or up towards Bascianella. In total there are 5 paths, all which are well signposted off from the School Picnic Trail – don’t let those words put you off, 9/10 you will be the only ones there apart from the local inhabitants of a very happy local animal kingdom.
Official Fiume Fiumetto Reserve Website (in Italian only)