Castel Manfrino is located on the border of the province of Teramo with Ascoli Piceno, on a rocky spur above the Salinello River valley.
The castle ruins are open to the public. You can reach them via a wooden and metal bridge. Inside there is the Macchia da Sole Museum, which tells the history of the castle, the Gran Sasso National Park and the Monti della Laga, and where you can visit pieces from archaeological excavations.
Due to its favourable location, Castel was an important observation and control point in earlier times. The fortified complex has thick walls and three 13th century observation towers. Previously there was a Roman camp here, from which the so-called "salt road" was monitored.
The Castel was allegedly built by the Staufer king Manfred - King of Sicily and son of Emperor Frederick II - to protect the northern side of the empire from attacks by the Ascolans. After he suffered a defeat, however, the fortress passed into the hands of Anjou.
There are no bastions on the Staufer wall ring, but on the opposite side there is an impressive square watchtower. It served as the last possible base in case of failure of the external defense. In a document from the year 1277 it is mentioned that a chaplain was permanently stationed here, so it is assumed that the complex also included a chapel.
A new tower was built in 1281 by order of Charles II of Anjou, probably according to a plan by the architect Pierre d'Angicourt. From this square tower, the first level with an integrated cistern and 12-metre-high wall remains still exist today.
How to get there
Coming from Teramo you drive from the SS80 to the SS81. After 10 km turn left onto Frazione Garufo Sp, after another 2 km turn left onto Via Nazario Sauro. Follow this and you will reach the SP52. After about 8 km turn right onto Contrada Macchie del Sole. After another 1.5 km you have arrived at Castel Manfrino.