Caramanico is a great place to base yourself for discovering the Maiella National Park, the province of Chieti and the south Abruzzo coast.
The nearby ski slopes at Lanciano are one of the few in the world where it is possible to have a 'white week' in full view of the sea. Time it right and you can combine an early beach holiday with the final runs of the season.
The town is built on a hill top spur at the top of which is the medieval walled area housing the 15th century churches of S.Maria Maggiore, S.Tommaso and S.Domenico.
The hilltop has been inhabited from prehistoric times although it was the Longobards who created a permanent settlement in the early medieval period. They prized the spur as a strategic base for controlling the valley passes which linked the coast to inland Italy.
They may also have given us the name Caramanico (from their own 'arimannia') although some suggest it comes from the local linguistic root 'carra' meaning rock.
The churches contain such priceless works of art as 16th century wooden sculptures and 13th century frescoes. An amazing patrimony for such a small place and all thanks to the feudal fathers of the town, the d'Aquino.
The thermal baths occupy the rest of the inhabitable area and the whole town slopes down from the 'centro storico'. They were developed at the end of the 19th century and it was only in 1960 that 'Terme' was added to 'Caramanico' in honor of Abruzzo's only thermal baths.
The overall effect is of a narrow strip of human activity dominated by the imposing slopes of the Morrone and Maiella mountain sides. The views are incredible.
Take the opportunity to discover the nearby Eremo of San Bartolomeo in the Vallone di S.Spirito. This religious refuge carved into the hillside is similar to the 'i peublos' of New Mexico and Arizona.
The deep gorge of the Valle d'Orfento is accessible from the Natural Reserve at nearby S. Croce and guides can accompany you on walks lasting from 2 to 7 hours. It is here otters are also bred and we even heard wolves from our hotel room last time we visited the town.
The surrounding area is renowned for mountain bike riding in the summer and cross country skiing in the winter from Decontra. Leave your car at Caramanico.