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Maja and the 'Sleeping Giant': the legendary story of Majella

Thursday 23 march 2023

One of Abruzzo's most poignant yet fascinating legends

Maja and the 'Sleeping Giant': the legendary story of Majella

An exhilarating and timeless tale set in the majestic mountains of Abruzzo! The legend of Majella is surely one of the most fascinating stories of the region.

Legend has it that Maja, the most beautiful of the Pleiades, the celestial and mountain nymphs, fled Phrygia in a desperate attempt to save her one and only beloved son Hermes, a huge giant who had fallen severely in battle and was pursued by enemies. Despite a devastating shipwreck, Maja with great tenacity and determination managed to cross the sea, arriving near the harbor of the ancient city of Ortona. Fearing enemy pursuit, the nymph continued to flee, climbing the Gran Sasso while holding her wounded son in her arm.

Tired and dejected after the long journey, Maja took refuge in a cave in the woods of the mountains of Abruzzo to search for the miraculous herb that grows at the foot of the white mountain, the only one that could save her beloved son, who unfortunately, however, died and left his mother in a state of despair. After days of much grief, Maja decided to bury her son on the top of the mountain, which even today, if you admire it from the east you can glimpse the "Sleeping Giant" in the silhouette of the mountains.

Overcome with grief and anguish, Maja began to cross the mountains until her grief led to her death. Her loved ones, as a sign of love and respect, adorned her with precious and exquisite robes, gold and silver vessels, and fragrant flowers and herbs, deciding to bury her on the majestic mountain in front of the Gran Sasso to this day baptized with the name Majella.

Even today, on windy days, the woods and valleys echo her wails, as if Maja were still here, weeping like a grieving mother.

A surprising and compelling legend with a heartbreaking and sorrowful essence that pays homage to the extraordinary bond between the Abruzzi people and their mountains, giving Majella the representation of the Mother, emblem of fertility. A narrative overflowing with love and spirituality set in a mesmerizing place, Abruzzo, the most evocative and lush region in Europe.

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