Friday 1 July 2011 – Despite the rain in the night, the first day of July is bathed in sunshine, I sit outside eating my breakfast listening to the birds singing in the valley. It’s going to be another hot day and to be honest I don’t fancy toiling in a still damp wilderness.
I grab my Abruzzo guide book, and look for somewhere to visit, I decide on the Roman ruins of Juvanum. So as Aha play Stay On These Roads I shave and get dressed for my trip out. How insightful the Swedish rockers were, the roads up twist and turn with spectacular views over the mountains, but some of the hairpin bends are scary, so I follow their advice and stay on the roads.
I drive through the pretty hilltop village of Gessopalena, I park up and have a wander around. My friend Alessio’s family are from here, and I see his family name on many post-boxes, making me wonder if the people who live behind them are his relatives.
The next village I pass through is Civitella Messer Raimondo. I’ve heard many people talk about this village, so expect it to be beautiful, in honesty it’s rather dull and non descript. So I don’t bother stopping to take any photographs.
I spot another brown sign which indicates I’m still heading in the right direction. At a sharp left turn the road rises steeply, and I climb upwards seeing a sign telling me the museum is just 2km away. I pull into the car park, and apart from the two shirtless gardeners I’m alone.
The ruins at Juvanum are really just low walls peeking out of the earth, there’s the remains of a road, no longer flat due to the seismic activity over the years. The location is thought to indicate the ruins were a place famed for health, the name Juvanum derives from iuvare, which is Latin for ‘to improve one’s health’. The settlement was left ruined following an earthquake in 4 AD. What was left over the years was plundered by locals needing the stones to build homes.
I drive back, stopping once to take a photograph of Lago di Sant’Angelo and a second time to grab a bottle of wine from the supermarket. The dinner dishes are drying over the sink, the pop of a cork sounds and Jimmy Somerville sings his excellent version of Where Have All The Flowers Gone? Perfect end to the day.