San Giovanni all'Orfento: the inaccessible hermitage
Sant'Onofrio all'Orfento, the narrowest hermitage of Majella
Did you know that the hermitage of San Giovanni all'Orfento is inaccessible? The Celestiniano hermitage of San Giovanni all'Orfento has such a narrow access that it is inaccessible to the less thin and brave.
To enter the hermitage it is necessary to crawl for a short but particular stretch through a small narrow passage carved into the rock and with one side exposed several meters above the ground.
This unique access to the hermitage of San Giovanni all'Orfento does not physically allow access to people with a few extra pounds and is a very valid deterrent for those suffering from vertigo.
Considering this aspect, Pietro Angelerio da Morrone who lived there from 1284 to 1293, was certainly not a faint of heart and certainly had no obesity problems.
The Celestinian hermitages
Pietro da Morrone, who was later proclaimed Pope with the name of Celestino V, was already known for having carved out some hermitages set in the rock in hard-to-reach areas to retire in prayer surrounded by nature.
The other Celestinian hermitages present on the Maiella are the hermitage of Santo Spirito which later became a monastery, the hermitage of Sant'Onofrio al Morrone and the hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio which is the most similar in characteristics to the hermitage of San Giovanni all'Orfento.
Among the Celestinian hermitages, San Giovanni all'Orfento was certainly the favorite of Pietro Angelerio da Morrone as it was the hermitage where he stayed for several years probably because it was the most isolated and difficult to reach.
How to reach the hermitage of Sant'Onofrio all'Orfento
In fact, to reach San Giovanni all'Orfento, you have to face a medium difficulty trail in the upper part of the Orfento Valley starting from De Contra, a small fraction of the pretty village of Caramanico Terme.
This trail, indicated as Sentiero dello Spirito, is not suitable for everyone due to the length and the difference in height to be tackled, moreover, one section in particular is very exposed towards a precipice and maximum attention must be paid.
The hermitage of San Giovanni all'Orfento is located within the Majella National Park and to reach it is necessary to request a free authorization at the Valle dell'Orfento Visitor Center in Caramanico Terme.
Hikers who decide to reach the hermitage by tackling the arduous trail, will certainly be rewarded by the emotion given by this mystical place overlooking the spectacular Orfento Valley.
Curiosities about the hermitage of Sant'Onofrio
The hermitage of San Giovanni all'Orfento is perfectly set in the rock, and what is particularly striking is the skill with which, in addition to the various rooms, a hydraulic system was obtained that conveyed the water into special collection tanks.
Some excavations have brought to light evidence which certifies that the part below the hermitage was also built and suggests that Pietro da Morrone was not alone in his years of spiritual retreat.
I'm brave enough when it comes to tackling paths in nature and I never go back but I admit that I hesitated a moment before crawling into the hermitage and I assure you that it is an experience to do .. if you have the courage! If you really can't, you can always get excited by observing the magnificent view over the Orfento Valley!
Must see places near San Giovanni all'Orfento Hermitage:
- Orfento Valley (14,8 Km/9,2 mi)
Orfento Valley, famous for its biodiversity, is the canyon created by the homonymous stream and one of the most visited in Abruzzo.
- Caramanico Terme (13,6 Km/8,4 mi)
Caramanico Terme is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and is a renowned spa town.
- Sant'Eufemia a Majella (19,3 Km/12 mi)
Sant'Eufemia a Majella is a small village with several murals and a square dedicated to Risiko.
San Giovanni all'Orfento Hermitage where to eat: