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Abruzzo

In the heart of Italy, there is a timeless region, a world away from mass tourism and yet close to the country’s capital. Abruzzo is an enchanted place, a “scattered hotel” that meanders its way through three national parks and numerous ancient villages.

A region rich in simple things, poor but beautiful things. The parks and the mountain offer a treasure trove of experiences throughout every season. In the winter, you can engage in every imaginable sporting pursuit, whereas in the spring and the autumn, the rolling meadows overlooked by the perennial glaciers invite you to discover nature and reacquaint yourself with its fragrances and the joy of using your legs. Here you will find some of the rarest protected species in Italy, such as bears and wolves, and for this reason Abruzzo is a particular favourite of children, who can get up close and personal with nature and with a plethora of baby animals.

Abruzzo is a Mecca for those with a passion for green tourism. CAI (Club Alpino Italiano) trails are to be found almost everywhere here, crossing fields and passing through ancient villages that are home to charming castles such as Roccascalegna, which provided the backdrop for the dreamlike film Tale of Tales.

Those who adore wild tracts of sea will be delighted by the Torre del Cerrano Marine Protected Area on the Adriatic coast of Teramo. Here, tiny white bays alternate with bursts of Mediterranean maquis and limestone rocks that plunge into the sea. But the extensive Abruzzan coastline and the numerous coastal towns are also an ideal destination for those who want to enjoy a carefree, fun-filled summer.

The birth of the Abruzzan identity is officially dated to the 5th century BC, a period in which the King of the Picentes known as the Warrior of Capestrano lived. An extraordinary statue of the warrior was discovered in the province of L’Aquila. This is a land of poets, philosophers and writers. Sulmona was the birthplace of Ovid, and almost 2000 years later, Pescara witnessed the arrival of Gabriele D’Annunzio, the poet considered to be the greatest modern Italian aesthete. The little town of Popoli was the birthplace of the inventor of the Vespa scooter (and, indeed, of the helicopter) Corradino D’Ascanio, who is the focus of a technical museum. It is a land of great, innovative thinkers, but also of deep, authentic traditions, such as the unusual snake-charmers’ celebration called the “Festa dei Serpari”, held in Cocullo at Easter.

Boasting unique examples of natural bounty such as saffron and true masterpieces of ingenuity such as arrosticino (mutton skewers), Abruzzan cuisine is amongst the richest in all of Italy. Exceptionally high-quality pecorino and caciocavallo cheeses are produce here in stunning natural surroundings, benefitting from incredibly fresh water sources, which also power the mills of De Cecco and Dal Verde at Fara San Martino near Chieti, which is one of the most important centres for pasta production in Italy. The fish-filled sea off the Adriatic coast has been instrumental in the development of the region’s simple, delicious seafood dishes, consisting in the main of fish soups cooked in terracotta containers.

Along the coast there are numerous shopping malls, and major boutiques are to be found in renowned resorts such as Pescara. However, the myriad treasures of Abruzzo are also to be found by wandering through the little villages stretching from the national park to the Majella, and from the Adriatic coast to the Fucino plain. Here, as well as buying local gastronomic delicacies, you will also come across artisanal delights such asthe Presentosa, the traditional piece of jewellery worn by Abruzzan women, which encapsulates the mastery of the local craftspeople in working copper, iron and gold.

Experts in international tourism have called the poetic, silent, undulating landscapes of Abruzzo the Next Tuscany. The Abruzzan landscape is constantly changing, and the way it appears today is the result of the vicissitudes to which it has been subject and the consequent waves of emigration. What are now fascinating, mysterious and (apparently) abandoned villages were at one time vibrant settlements. All around, nature continues in full flow, with waterfalls, mountains, glaciers, white beaches and florid meadows.

Hiking boots and comfortable clothing are essential for those entering the wilds of Abruzzo. The region invites you to lose yourself and walk for miles on end, with no specific destination in mind. Trekking through the national parks and villages remains one of the most satisfying ways to enjoy the Abruzzan landscapes. Naturally, there is no shortage of opportunities for risk-takers. In the plethora of gullies and canyons, you can find perfect cliffs for free climbing, and what about some night rafting on the Maiella massif? Not to forget skiing: at Roccaraso and Campofelice, there are two of the main ski resorts in central Italy.

Being so green, the region is very much an oasis of wellness, but local entrepreneurs have taken this concept to the next level. Indeed, Abruzzo is a bona fide wellness hub, thanks to the quality of the spa towns that are set against stunning natural backdrops. At Caramanico Terme, one of the most highly acclaimed resorts, upscale hospitality and luxury hotels are the order of the day, with views of glaciers and snow-capped mountains offering unforgettable, revitalising spa experiences. Another top destination is Popoli, where the sulphurous waters have been celebrated since time immemorial, and the saunas, Turkish baths and sensory showers are as enchanting as they are relaxing.

Roasting and having fun. These are the watchwords for those who want to discover and get the most out of Abruzzo by appreciating its great food, hospitality and fun. The nightclubs on the Adriatic riviera at Vasto and Giulianova are rightly famous, and often feature sets by world-class DJs. The clubs are complemented by waterparks that are ideal for group holidays. If you are travelling with children, the region reveals one surprise after another, including educational farms and nature reserves where you can admire chamois, bears and, with any luck, wolves.

Did you know that Pope Celestine V the hermit was appointed in L’Aquila? It was in Abruzzo that he lived his life as a hermit – a lifestyle that in the end caused him to resign, so distant did he feel from the church of Rome. In tribute to him, you can travel along the Celestine V route, a stunning trail that takes in monasteries, caves and remote retreats. For its part, the St Thomas route links Roma to Ortona, the little Adriatic town that plays host to the remains of the Apostle.

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Excellences of the region

Destinations in the region

Chieti & Costa dei Trabocchi
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L’Aquila & Gran Sasso
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Abruzzo National Park
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