A place far away from the bustling of everyday life, where you can surround yourself with nature and with the history of a land waiting to be discovered. It’s the image of good triumphing over evil. The image of a valiant knight killing a dragon and saving the princess. It’s light that overcomes darkness. This – and much more – is the path of Saint George in Celano, hidden among the rocks of Colle San Vittorino, at an altitude of 1,188 meters, where you can also admire a painting dedicated to the saint.
The path (CAI 11B) leading there is not hard, but you need comfortable shoes with a good grip. You will climb up pathways running through rocks, while admiring a suggestive landscape that reveals the lake that once was there. Finding the entrance to the path is not difficult. If you like walking, you just have to park in the main square of Celano. From there, head towards the small church of the Alpini, along a road where you can find engraving representing the Stations of the Cross. From the little square in front of the church, you will be able to see the top of the mountain.
The path runs among old folds, where farmers still raise sheep and goats – and there it’s really easy to encounter a goat or two. If you are lucky enough to see them, you will see them walking easily among rocks and stones.
The difference in altitude is not excessive, and you will see the peculiar white and red colors of the Cai organization on the rocks, as well as small building realized by the same people. It is a very suggestive path, and you will love it if you want to enjoy nature, silence, and history.
About half away, after 30 mins, you will be able to see Celano’s Gorges. It is truly fascinating being able to admire them from a point of view that reveal their stunning beauty.
If you stop along the way, you will find yourself in front a giant painting made of fog that resembles a lake – a lake that is not there anymore, drained in the 19th century, forced to leave behind just his “light”. We are talking about what once was Lake Fucino.
This light will almost blind anyone who comes along this way, on the mountains that surround the ancient banks. On the left you can see Aielli, and right behind the many wind turbines; on the right, Avezzano; and, in front you, “on the other side of the waters”, Trasacco and other small towns. You can easily see everything when there is no fog.
The griffins are the guardians of this path that pass by what once was the dwelling of the Benedictine monks. If you walk in silence, as you should, and occasionally lift your eyes, it will be easy to see this majestic birds. They are way too often disturbed by fireworks and artificial sounds – and yet, their flight is peaceful and reassuring. The griffins welcome their guests. Always.
In the “Legenda Aurea” by Jacopo da Varagine, it is written that in the lake of the city of Saleme, in Libia, once there was a dragon that killed whoever crossed its path. Trying to tame it, the locals used to feed him livestock. But when the animal became too few, the locals were forced to choose randomly some teenagers. One day, they chose the daughter of the king. The valiant knight George saved the princess and wounded the dragon with his spear, then brought it inside the city and compelled the local population to convert to Christianity. After the baptism of the population, George killed the beast.
It is an ancient story, widely spread especially during the Crusades. Saint George became the symbol of the struggle of good versus evil.
We like to think that this is why he is painted on the rocks just below Mount San Vittorino. It is a breathtaking view – we live in an era dominated by traffic jams, smartphones, immediate contacts, hatred on social media, laziness… and this is the symbol of good overcoming, killing, and annihilating evil.
It is painted there, among the rocks. We don’t know who the author was. It is believed that it was painted by a monk, as they were the only ones coming this way before farmers.
Try to imagine the silence of the mountains, their peace, the breathing of their souls.
The Saint George painting, waiting to be restored.
Once you get there, you can keep going and climb up Mount San Vittorino (just be careful during wintertime, as rocks are especially slippery), or you can go back. If you decide to keep going, you can choose among many different paths, one of which is the path going directly on top of the Serra (mount Tino, 1923 mts). It is the mount that Federico II climbed to destroy the medieval town of Celano…
But this is another story.
A place far from the usual routine where you can immerse yourself not only in nature but also in the history of a land still to be discovered.