Carve out as much time as you need to visit Alfedena, in the province of L'Aquila, to savor the harmony and grace of its tiny alleys, stone houses, and attention to architectural details that will long remain in your heart. So will its location, some 900 metres above sea level at the foot of the Meta and Monte Greco massifs and on the two banks of the Rio Torto, connected by a bridge rebuilt in place of the destroyed Roman bridge.
You are in a very ancient territory inhabited for centuries by the Samnites, who founded the center with the original name of Aufidena, and who naturally made this land their cemetery. You can discover it with a short hike northward, before the confluence of the river, where it rises at Campo Consolino. This cliff has remains of the necropolis with megalithic walls and vestiges of buildings, an impressive area with more than fifteen thousand inhumation tombs dating from the 7th to 3rd B.C. and lined with stone slabs, often equipped with a storage room.
Everything that has been found, including armor, swords, spearheads, amber pendants, and ceramic pottery, you can admire at the town's Civic Archaeological Museum.
Immerse yourself in the delightful center with its maze of flint-paved alleys that thread their way between one house and another. It was made over time by the famous Alfedenese flint makers, who worked inside the flint quarries where, once the large boulders of lava had been broken up, they used to give a shape to the stone ("sampietrini", small in size; "bastardoni", poorly worked; "regarelle", parallelepiped-shaped; "cubetti", the most refined), according to their use. Thanks to their skill they were even called to Rome to adorn the capital's streets and squares, including St. Peter's.
So go and see in the municipal villa - called the Botanical Garden by the University of Naples in the late 19th century, due to the presence of many botanical varieties - the monument dedicated to the golden-handed paving artisans, who of the pavements and cobblestones you walk on today, have made them pieces of history and art.
Visit the church of Saints Peter and Paul dating back to the 13th century and featuring a reconstructed, Romanesque-inspired facade that stands on a high flight of steps. Restored several times due to war damage, it nevertheless retains large mosaics on the facade and inside.
Fluidly, you move from culture to nature, organizing some of the hikes offered by the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park territory, such as the one to the Sangro Gorges, about two hours long going up the course of the river and entering the gorges, called La Foce by the locals. There are also numerous climbs starting in Alfedena to Mounts Meta and Metuccia and Monte a Mare.
After all this movement, if you are a lover of the gastronomy of tradition, "throw yourself" on the fried pizza (long, spiral fried tortillions, prepared with eggs, flour, yeast, rosemary, anise seeds, water and salt), which in ancient times was offered to all the inhabitants for the wedding of some villager. There is also "bride's soup" (meat broth with endive, fried pieces of bread, diced scamorza cheese and meatballs), which was instead prepared the day after the wedding.
The culinary dances continue with "lullitte e faciule" (small dumplings made of water and flour with beans), "cac'e ove" lamb, omelet with curatella (omelet with lamb livers), eaten on Easter Day, and, dulcis in fundo, "pezzelocchere" (bread dough with eggs, sugar, anise and lemon peel).
What else to see:
The acropolis and the city wall
The vestiges of the castle and the octagonal tower
The War Memorial