Campo Imperatore – in Abruzzo, province of L’Aquila – is a special place for stargazing. The plateau is almost 2,000 meters above sea level, far from any source of light pollution, and offers the kind of clear view of the sky that is required to enjoy observational astronomy to the fullest.
For this reason, Campo Imperatore is a meeting place for astrophiles from the world over. Indeed, an astronomical observatory was built in the mid-1900s – here at 2,150 meters of altitude – with a telescope of over one meter in diameter.
But the solitary Abruzzo highland is not some metaphysical, otherworldly place where only people wanting to observe the sky can go. It is a place where an important piece of Italy’s 20th-century history passed: between late August and early September 1943, Benito Mussolini was a guest/prisoner of a 1930s hotel here until he was freed by German troops. The building, in pure rationalist style of course, is on the north-western edge of Campo Imperatore and is still in business.
Located in the National Park of Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga, Campo Imperatore is a vast space of 75 square kilometers where you can ski, practice winter sports, hike, climb and cycle.
In the 1930s, naturalist, ethnologist and mountaineer Fosco Maraini described the Abruzzo plateau by saying, “Campo Imperatore could very well be Tibet. It resembles the plain of Phari Dzong, on the road between India and Lhasa.”
Little has changed since then. The stars are still in the sky, looking at us and letting us look at them from this wonderful land.