The legend of the Majella and Gran Sasso is one of the most famous in theAbruzzo. The Gran Sasso is the highest mountain massif in the Apennines and peninsular Italy. Majella is the second mountain massif of the Apennines, located on the border between the provinces of Chieti, L'Aquila and Pescara. Both contain some of the most beautiful natural parks in our country, rich in biodiversity.

The Majella

It is said that…

Majella takes its name from Maja, the most beautiful nymph of the Pleadi. Legend has it that Maja fled from Phrygia, a region of central Anatolia, to rescue her son Hermes, by Zeus, who had been wounded in battle. They fled together across the sea on a raft. Once they reached the port of Ortona, Maja, for fear of being followed, took refuge with Ermete in a cave on the Gran Sasso. Since her son, seriously injured, needed treatment, the nymph had to go away in search of a healing herb. Unfortunately, she didn't succeed, despite her efforts. The very deep snow, which covered everything, slowed down the search for her and Hermes died. His desperation was such that for days he remained motionless, next to his son's lifeless body, crying desperately. Finally, she decided to bury him on a mountain peak. At the first light of dawn, the local inhabitants witnessed an unexpected and surprising fact: Hermes had transformed into a gigantic mountain, which from that moment they called “The sleeping giant”.

Gran Sasso

The pain of her son's death affected Maja deeply and she died of a broken heart. Her relatives decided to bury her on the mountain that rises in front of the Gran Sasso, after having adorned her with gems and garlands of flowers. The mountain took the shape of a woman lying on herself, petrified by her pain, who turns her gaze towards the sea.


For the people of Abruzzo, the Majella is the mother of all and is known as “The Sleeping Beauty of Abruzzo”. The shepherds who lead their flocks on these mountains claim to hear the desperate moans of the beautiful nymph at certain times of the year.

La Majella, hermitage

Parks, places to visit

La Majella is home to the national park of the same name, established in 1991, which since 2021 has been part of the UNESCO global geopark system. Inside there are seven state nature reserves and some assets of cultural interest.


The park is full of well-marked nature trails and is an ideal destination for those who love trekking and nature activities. There are also very suggestive places that house ancient hermitages. The Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park is one of the largest protected nature reserves in Italy. Inside, rich in naturalistic aspects, there are several fortified villages.

(Photo: Per La Majella; Gran Sasso National Park – Abruzzo – Italy; Gran Sasso, Facebook Pages)

The Majella and the Gran Sasso, protagonists of a famous legend last edit: 2024-05-20T11:07:54+02:00 da Antonietta Malito

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