The ancient aqueduct which crosses the Saint Venanzio Gorge is Raiano’s most historical testimony. Hewn entirely out of rock, half way down the rockface, it is an ingenious and fascinating work of hydraulics. Dating back to before the Imperial Age, it was a water supply channel from Molina, in the Subequana Valley, to Corfinio.
An inscription from the first half of the first century, on the outside wall of the church of Saint John in Castelvecchio Subequo, documents the restoration work carried out on the aqueduct at that time.
The small service road which flanks the aqueduct which is likewise hewn out of rock, is the oldest crossing between the Peligna and the Subequana valleys: a splendid path for rambling, with breathtaking views over the gorges and the hermitage. Tradition would have it that Pietro da Morrone, the future Celestino V, took this route, followed by his entourage on his way to L’Aquila for his coronation as Pope. This route was said to have been the one taken by Gioacchino Murat in retreat, at the head of a small army, after the fall of Napoleon. These are tales that, given the dimensions of the path, have no foundation in reality, but that express the great symbolic recognition of the “Corfinio Canal”, which in local dialect has been renamed Via delle “ùcchele”, with its 134 small openings along its way, which were used to inspect the aqueduct and regulate the flow of water along the channel.
Even today, it is possible to go inside the channel through some of these openings although the canal, in parts, is no wider than 80cm, with heights varying between 1.5m and 1.8m. It is a great and exhilarating adventure to walk along some of the sections consisting of brick built containing walls and bare rock along which the water level has left clearly visible traces, however this should only be done by experts.
Reaching the Via delle “ùcchele” is very easy: from the crucifix placed at the furthest point from the town, a short distance from the level crossing, the first “openings” can be easily seen: the path that runs alongside them starts from here and rises slowly up the hill for four kilometres working its way into the Gorges from where there are breathtaking views.