Foce was tiny compares to the task he undertook. He was tiny and stubborn, and patience. He could advance the work no more than one millimetre per year, but it never gave it up and his perseverance, at the end, won. Foce is the bright as crystal mountain creek who dug Celano Gorge, one of the many beauties enclosed in the Regional Park of Mount Sirente – Velino, in Abruzzo region.
Foce carefully crafted a more than 4 kilometres long gorge, separating Mount Sirente (2349 m.) and Mount Tino (1924 m.) and representing a majestic erosion of the central Apennines. Its rocky walls are almost 200 meters high. The average width of the gorge is approximately 5-6 meters, but in the narrower section the walls almost touch each other. Foce gave to the gorge the shape of a waning moon with the tips of the “horns” at North-West and South-East. Celano Gorge starts at 770 meters in the outskirts of the town of Celano to end at 1300 meters in the Arano Valley in the town of Ovindoli.
The path goes at the bottom of the gorge, crossing the creek several times from one bank to the other as a snake around a tree’s brunch. The high walls close up and opens as the lips of an immense mouth and the creek is its tongue of water playing capriciously, a constant change of width that weaves an alive succession of landscapes and contrasting colours, the bright blue of the creek and the white of the limestone, the many greens of moss, trees, ivy, and the yellow, grey, white of the gorge’s wall.
Sometimes the gorge close up as to squeeze the creek that flows stubbornly to find a way into a bed of big rocks and stones. Its struggle creates a never ending sprouting up of small cascades, a liquid melody a watery counterpoint of warbling beating spraying bouncing and on the rocks falling.
Then the path lead to a little hidden valley. There is a wood of thin trees stretching to reach the sunlight and an intense green carpet of ground ivy. The creek flow gently on a suddenly flat and clean of rocks ground, the strong noise of the water became a soft gurgling. There are still some snowdrift, the sun cannot reach them. All has an elfish looking as getting closer to Rivendell.
The gorge now is wide and Mount Sirene show all its majesty. Far away ridges and slopes covered by pine woods enclose the horizon and make feel the “weight” of the mountain as if they were the all world. The wind is a whisper.
Suddenly the gorge close up again I can touch both side just stretching a bit the hands. The walls are smooth and high, the creek deeper, the sun vanished and sky become a narrow and far strip of blue. There is no other way to go on but walk straight into the water and the sensation is to stay helpless at the bottom of a well or as in that fairy tail: soon the walls will close up on the stranger who dared to come here…
The splishy splashy of my steps into the water switches to the crusty sounds of the boots on the pebbles. The rocky walls make place to steep slopes. It is not hard find a way out and overlook the gorge from up: the view is aggressive, imagine seeing a creak running on the earth and feel that all the mountain and the world around are about to crush down as a crystal knick-knack.
Eagles flying up, or maybe the long howl of a wolf? And the streams of the lovers, the ruins of a tower… Celano’s Gorge can surprise the traveller in many ways.
Celano-Ovindoli has a train station of the same name. There are daily trains From Rome to Celano – Ovindoli Station way trip takes 2 hours. There other slower possible connections as from l’Aquila via Sulmona. Price and time schedule at www.trenitalia.com
The Highway number 24 (Roma/L’aquila/Teramo/ Pescara) pass by 4 kilometers from Celano and Ovindoli and is the quickest and easiest way to get the Gorge. From the highway take the exit Aielli-Celano and after the Statal Road 696 to Celano (there are roadsigns). From the road 696 before to enter into the town there is a big wooden sign where is written “Gole di Celano” (Celano Gorge) take the small road signed. After 5 minuts driving there is a carpark and you will clearly see the beginning of the gorge and the trail. If you want to start the route in Ovindoli just keep driving on the SS 696 direction Ovindoli. Do not enter the town and keep driving on the SS 696 till you get a junction. Turn right and go straight, then follow the signs.
From March the trail is clear of snow but there is enough water to enjoy the small waterfalls made by the river, but the track often goes underwater and you need to get wet your feet. During summer there is much less water and is very frequented by Italian and foreigner hikers, families and tourist group.
Avoid trail after strong rain and during windy days, there is danger of rocks and trees falling. Officially the gorge is closed. I ve hiked the gorges the 15th of March 2017. There were plenty of trees broken and the path has been not cleared. There was a lot of water but it did not impede the way.