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From the Tyrrhenian to the AdriaticABRUZZO


From the Tyrrhenian to the Adriatic

Article published in Motociclismo magazine in 2005.

The state road n.5 Tiburtina-Valeria, connects the capital with Pescara, and represents for the motorcyclist one of the best, fun and rewarding ways to allow those who are not in too much of a hurry to join the two shores of our peninsula.

Read the story published in the magazine.

Via Tiburtina took its name from Tibur, today's Tivoli, which it led out of the capital through the ancient gate of the same name, now called Porta San Lorenzo, to then go eastwards taking the name of Valeria, from Valerio Massimo, who in 307a .C. he wanted it to make it possible to transit through the territories of the Sabines, the equi, the marsi and peligni up to the Adriatic.
Nowadays, the crossing of the Apennine chain certainly no longer represents an epic-adventurous undertaking, but can offer very interesting ideas for an attentive visit as well as the opportunity to try one's hand on roads that, due to the quality of the asphalt, make the spectacular scenarios and, which should not be underestimated absolutely, lack of traffic, probably have few equals in our crowded peninsula.
Moving away from the Caput Mundi, you will probably wonder, perplexed how we can make such a consideration, but do not worry because already after Tivoli, climbing gently towards Vicovaro, the traffic will lighten considerably, to become completely relaxing once you pass the small center and move towards Arsoli.
Tivoli, an important center since Roman times for its thermal baths, today famous for the famous Villa Adriana (commissioned by the emperor Hadrian, who had it built between 125 and 135, reproducing the buildings of the empire that had struck him most in his travels), for its other buildings including the renowned Villa d'Este and for the remains of the Roman and medieval ages, offers a magnificent panorama from a natural balcony over the Roman countryside, before the short Tiburtina gives the baton to via Valeria.
The asphalt is not that great, but let's not worry, we only pay attention to pedestrian crossings and any speed checks by the police.
The road crosses, and then flanks the A25 as far as Carsoli, crossing Arsoli, dominated by the Massimo castle and, higher up, by Oricola. At this point we are already in Abruzzo. The ancient Carseolis, center of the Equi, was conquered by the Romans in 297 BC. who established a colony of 4000 heads of families.
Curiosity lies in the fact that together with the nearby Alba Fucens, it was among the cities that in 209 BC. they refused to send contingents for the war against Hannibal.
Here an arduous dilemma will assail the motorcyclist: follow the ancient Valeria route that climbs whirlwindly to the Mote Bovo pass and then hit in free fall on Tagliacozzo or choose for the variant, called Quater?
An advice? Both are worthy of consideration. We personally prefer the first, less busy, probably more panoramic, slower, but with an exceptional asphalt, which allows almost anything.
Having time available, as indeed all the detours of this itinerary, the other route is also highly recommended, less tortuous, but with a beautiful sequence of curves to be connected quickly.
In Tagliacozzo, you will have the opportunity for a short stop, as the residential area is located on a very steep slope. Interesting for medieval houses and churches, the obelisk square is certainly worth seeing, harmoniously surrounded by beautiful buildings and the ducal palace, built by the Orsini at the end of the fifteenth century. Crossing the Fucino plain, by way of road, certainly represents the least interesting part of the day: long straights and in the middle the city of Avezzano, the main and most populous center of the Fucense basin.
"Either I drain the Fucino, or the Fucino drain me". The sentence was pronounced by Duke Alessandro Torlonia, one of the architects of the draining of the Fucino marshes.
In itself, this vast expanse of more than 15,000 hectares does not offer roads that lend themselves to motorcycling even if its access from any direction is very suggestive.
Fucino was the highest of the large lakes (669 m.), And the third by extension after Garda and Trasimeno, with an average surface area of ​​155 square km.
But it was just an "average": reduced to a closed basin in its Apennine basin, with karst sinkholes as emissaries, it had the most capricious and sudden variations in surface (up to 40 km. Square) and level, which devastated the countryside around.
Julius Caesar was the first to think about the drying up (Rome asked for wheat) but only the Emperor Claudius decided it, starting it in 42 AD.
The workforce was not lacking: 30,000 slaves, who dug a canal and a tunnel 5653 m long.
In the summer of 52 AD, a simulated naval battle ("naumachia" of 50 ships and 19,000 men) was the farewell to the lake and the inauguration of the work, which however proved insufficient to prevent the return of the initial conditions when, from the period of the barbarian dominations, there was no regular maintenance.
For the definitive drying up, after the unification of Italy, it was necessary to wait for the intervention of Duke Alessandro Torlonia.
A new gallery of 6301 m was built. and a tunnel of 8 km., in 1875 the lake was definitively emptied; the reclamation (16507 hectares) was completed in 1887.
Today the large plain, planted with cereals, also houses the Telespazio station.
Crossing the plain on the left it is impossible not to notice the town of Celano enclosed under the grandiose castle, one of the most impressive in Abruzzo, built in 1392 and definitively completed in 1463 by Antonio Piccolomini who had the county from Alfonso of Aragon. It is composed of a central nucleus, with a rectangular plan, with 4 square towers and angular battlements. It currently houses the Marsica museum.
But let's go back to our roads: soon yet another dilemma will assail the motorcyclist. Exactly at km 128.7, the ss 83 branches off to the right for Pescina and once in Piazza Mazzarino, yes, we are in the place that gave birth to the famous cardinal successor of Richelieu, after the petrol station turn left towards Ortona dei Marsi.
The road immediately becomes a masterpiece of curves, climbing halfway up the side of the Giovenco river, but after less than 8 km., At the junction for Cocullo, off to the left with non-existent traffic and a spectacular asphalt.
But that's not all, once we have crossed the tunnel, after about 1 km, at the first crossroads again on the left, we will fall on Goriano Sicoli in complete solitude. In truth it must be said that in this section the asphalt gets worse, even the regional maps of the Touring indicate it as a dirt road.
But the dive is not over: 2 km and the gaze will open on the Peligna valley.
Be careful not to get too distracted, the view is truly remarkable, the road is very steep but the quality of the road surface is back to excellent levels.
Alternatively, you can stay on the SS5 to reach Collarmele, which was completely destroyed in the 1915 earthquake. The view opens onto the Marsica mountains and the wind farm on the left to reach the Forca Caruso pass, after having crossed the desolate Piani di San Nicola and San Rufino. The road is beautiful, the view is fantastic and the absence of traffic is truly exciting. Immediately after the roadman on the pass a couple of hairpin bends and yet another crossroads will come trying to confuse us.
Turning right you will always arrive in Goriano, but we would like to advise you to stay on the main one. 27 km difficult to forget, with the gorges of San Venanzio preceding Raiano.
After Castelvecchio Subequo, we literally enter the Aterno Valley by crossing the San Venanzio gorges, 7km that almost always run between the rocky walls of a wild gorge. On weekends, the road is certainly very crowded with local motorcyclists, but the asphalt and the beauty of the road often lead to some more risk than necessary. A lot of attention !!
The gorge continues to tighten, we begin to worry but suddenly the road suddenly widens, 2 very wide curves and we enter Raiano, with a splendid view of the Peligna valley. Here the 2 itineraries come together to offer the last dilemma of the day. Or look for the square of this small town (which hosts the cherry festival in early June), from where a downhill road starts that will allow you to get to Popoli by entering for a very short stretch in the lower part of the gorges of San Venanzio (if you want you can visit the Hermitage of San Venanzio, built in the narrowest point of this canyon, on a system of arches under which the river and the sources of the Pescara river flow). Or reach Popoli passing through Corfinio which with its Valvense basilica, an ancient cathedral of the diocese of Valva, will offer us the opportunity to stop at one of the most famous medieval monuments in the region.
The first solution is certainly more panoramic, the choice is yours.
We are on the home straight: in Popoli with the nearby sources of the Pescara river, traffic begins to return to levels from the third millennium. Before arriving in Pescara, a visit to the Abbey of San Clemente a Casauria should be remembered, probably the most important monument of transition from Romanesque to Cistercian Gothic in Abruzzo. It is really over, the last kilometers can be traveled between the industrial and non-industrial urbanizations that cross the lower part of Chieti or by driving along the very fast "equipped axis", a fast-flowing road, until you see the Adriatic Sea.

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