We enjoyed a fantastic days walking in a deep limestone gorge in the Maiella National Park. The gorge is a gash in the limestone hillside which twists and turns its way steeply upwards; alternating between narrow passages, with vertical walls of layered limestone and wider sections of boulder-strewn meadows: In these we enjoyed the scent of thyme, sage, marjoram and other herbs familiar in many gardens and watched the scores of butterflies making the most of the sun. As the gorge climbs higher there are glades of beech trees for shade and the usual water fountain the Italians are so good at providing. At the entrance to the gorge a Medieval Abbey to St Martino is being excavated and restored: Built in the same limestone, it has a very natural appearance.
Despite this and other stunning places to visit in the collection of National Parks in the central Apennine area, there is the usual lack of campsites away from the coastal strip and we have adopted a hopping up the coast approach to this lack of amenities; moving north in short bursts, so that we have time for walks in the hills.