Valle Giumentina – Pacentro, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Valle Giumentina

Pacentro, Italy

In Majella National Park, these stone dwellings harken back to the region's pastoral history.  

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Stone buildings and stone walls litter the dry landscape of the Valle Giumentina, an iconic region in the northern sector of Majella National Park, in the Central Italian region of Abruzzo.

The huts, known as tholos, are testaments to the agro-pastoral civilization of Abruzzo. Shepherds and farmers, along with their families would dwell inside during the summertime when they were forced to work land away from their homes.

The shelters were abandoned around the 1950s, but remain as unique examples of Italy’s agricultural history, not unlike the more famous nuraghe in Sardinia and Trulli in Puglia. Families spent the summers harvesting wild fruits, raising livestock, and growing cereals in the hills and low mountains of Majella. The stone huts were sometimes more elaborate and complex, such as the two-story hut near the Ecomuseum.

The region is also one of Italy’s most significant sites associated with Homo Erectus, who lived here during the Lower Paleolithic Age and left a plethora of Acheulean-era stone tools behind. Some of the findings and excavations can be seen at the Ecomuseo del Paleolitico in the village of Abbateggio.

Know Before You Go

A good starting point for a hike in the area is Fonte Cugnoli in Abbateggio. The ecomuseum is normally open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during the summer.

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