Home / Destinations / Gessopalena


Shining talking stones bring the area to life


07 giugno 2023

Reading time:

3 min

  • Comuni d’Abruzzo
Gessopalena, Ph. D. Trotta


Descrizione lunga

A lonely "chalk village" tells its story from the top of a rocky outcrop and when the wind blows the buried houses seem to talk.
Have you ever been there? If you have not, get ready right now to leave to visit Gessopalena, in the province of Chieti, which offers you an area full of surprises and full of emotions. 

The "modern" village, arranged as an amphitheater, rises 654 metres above sea level on the eastern side of the Maiella mountain range, uncovering a ridge of chalky rock, placed higher than the built-up area. Here the ancient village of medieval origin, progressively abandoned since the 19th century, "rests." 
An open-air museum of chalk dwellings, which you can explore by reaching it from Via Castello and Via Roma, with rooms, staircases, niches, chimneys, walls, carved out of chalk mixed with limestone and sandstone, and enveloped in a stunning silence that still speaks of those who lived in those stony houses, stretching out toward the immense sky.

In front of you there is the Aventino Valley, which is full of light on the clearest days and reflects like a mirror on the crystalline rocks of the area, from which the white material of calcium sulfate is obtained. The name Gessopalena, in fact, comes from the Latin word gypsum, chalk.
Here, among the corpses of the houses, made even more skeletal by the bombings of World War II, the Crucifixion of the Lord is staged every year in an atmosphere of poignant pathos. If you are in the area during the Easter season, be sure not to miss it. 

There is another giant "talking" stone that you must see; it is called La Morgia but locals have renamed it "lu leon" because it resembles the shape of a crouching lion.
You can reach it in the homonymous district, on the road that connects Gessopalena to Torricella Peligna, where it shows up in all its solitude, as the chalk hamlet. A small "Abruzzese Ayers Rock" reminiscent of the giant rock at the centre of Australia.

It is probably a rock that millions of years ago detached from the Maiella and rolled down into the valley, which over the millennia has been "fed" by local communities with legends and mythical tales. For example, the one with the biblical hero Samson as its focus, who loaded the rock on his shoulders, carrying it from Palena to Gessopalena, leaving even a footprint.

On the rock - which was used in different eras to extract building stones, especially after World War II, when most of the villages had to be rebuilt - you will find to your surprise the installation by the Greek sculptor Costas Varotsos: a 40-metre-long blue glass work, made between 1996 and 1997 and placed in the "wound" inflicted on the rock by an explosion during the war.
After all these emotions, it comes time to eat there, not with legends, but with the typical cuisine of the province of Chieti, such as maccheroni alla chitarra, the so-called strascinate turnips.


  • Villages
  • Comuni

Location of the Destination


42.056860742639, 14.27209854126

Last updated

15/01/2024, 10:00

Published by AbruzzoTurismo