Abruzzo, a mountainous region in central Italy

10 reasons to visit Abruzzo

Abruzzo is a region of parks, also called the “green lungs” of Europe. There are three national parks, a regional park and 38 regional and national nature reserves. In total, protected areas in Abruzzo account for about 30% of the total area of the region. It is not easy to single out one park in this diversity: the historic park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise, founded in 1923, the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga Park or the Maiella Park, the Cirente Velino Regional Park and numerous nature reserves and sanctuaries. Guides, guides and local tour operators offer itineraries for all tastes: hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking and skiing … and any complexity: from simple tours to extreme, there are also routes for people with disabilities.

2 Explore 130 km of beaches on the Adriatic coast

Beach on the Adriatic Coast / Shutterstock.com

The beautiful Adriatic coast 130 km long is divided into two parts: in the north there are wide sandy beaches equipped with everything you need for recreation, along the coastline there is a bike path (about 45 kilometers); in the south – the bays are decorated with trabocchi – wooden bridges for fishing, buried in Mediterranean vegetation. Summer tourism is very developed here, the beaches of Montesilvano, Pineto, Roseto degli Abruzzi, Alba Adriatica and Ortona are especially popular. Among the Adriatic resorts, the beaches of Abruzzo stand out for their particular charm: they have the atmosphere of medieval fishing towns and the profile of the Gran Sasso mountain range rises above the sea, which adds even more charm to the landscape.

3. Try “fishing for trabocco.”

Trabocco Punta Torre, Borgo Rocca San Giovanni in the province of Chieti / Shutterstock.com

Trabocchi are wooden fishing platforms connected to the land by thin passages. You will find them in large numbers along the coast between the towns of San Vito and Fossacea. This ancient way of fishing with a suspended net is widespread in Abruzzo. The intricate construction was invented by fishermen who did not want to go to the open sea by boat. This method of fishing is called “balance”. A rectangular lifting net is tied with ropes to two poles connected to a winch which, in turn, allows the net to be raised or lowered. Between October and April along the coast you can catch mullet, sea bass and mormorrhoea, and between April and May you can catch cuttlefish, juvenile herring or sardines and anchovies.

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4. discover the pearl of Alba Fuchens

Amphitheater in Alba Fuchens ©Project Mirabilia / Shutterstock.com

Alba Fuchens is the archaeological jewel of Abruzzo. The city, founded by the Romans, had a strategic position at the foot of Mount Velino (1000 metres above sea level) and was well defended: the perimeter of its walls was about 2.9 km and much of this belt is well preserved to this day. The city began to develop in the 3rd century BC and reached its heyday during the Roman Empire. The urbane structure is still clearly visible: it was based on the intersection of the main streets (cardo and decumanum), typical of all Roman cities. Of particular interest are the amphitheater of Alba Fuchens, the temple of Hercules and the temple of Apollo, converted into the Christian church of San Pietro and greatly modified in the Middle Ages. The interior of the church retains ancient columns and mosaics in the Cosmatesco style.

5. Ride on the southernmost glacier in Europe in Gran Sasso

Panorama of the Gran Sasso d’Italia massif / Shutterstock.com

Abruzzo has the highest part of the Apennine Mountains, and some peaks are famous ski resorts, like the Corno Grande del Gran Sasso and the Monte Amaro mountain of the Maiella massif. The highest mountain in Abruzzo is Corno Grande (“Big Horn”), at 2,912 meters, with the Calderone Glacier, the southernmost in Europe, located in the mountain’s ridge.

6. Tasting arrosticini with a glass of wine from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Lamb kebabs on thin skewers cooked on coals are very popular in the region. No festival, harvest festival or gathering with friends can do without them. There is a large number of trattorias that “specialize” in them and are famous for the quality of this popular dish.

Not to forget that Abruzzo wine is very popular all over the world and for many years now has been considered one of the best wines in Italy. It has won numerous international prizes and awards. The traditional Abruzzo vine for white wine is Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, and for red wine it is Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

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DOC wines include Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (which also includes the rosé wine Cerazuolo), which is aromatic, dry and robust, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, which is dry and has a fine aroma, and the red and white wines of Controlguerra, which are produced in the Teramano region.

7. Discover the small towns of Abruzzo

Panorama of Borgo Pacentro / Shutterstock.com

One of the most interesting and important reasons to visit Abruzzo is to discover the ancient small towns, Italian for borghi.

In the province of L’Aquila, one must see the marvelous Castel del Montedewe in the Gran Sasso National Park or the Borgo Scanno, in the Marsicani mountains near Abruzzo National Park, Lazio and Molise, where you can ski in winter.

Guardiagrale in the province of Chieti, the so-called “city of stone”, is the center of the Maiella National Park. The town is known for its handicrafts, but it is also home to splendid Romanesque churches, towers and gates, part of the city walls. Added to the beauty of the historic center of Borgo Rocca San Giovanni are the scents of the maquis thickets. Through the steep and narrow streets of the beautiful town of Civitella del Tronto you can reach the fortress. This fortress, a true masterpiece of engineering preserved in the province of Teramo, rises on the very crest of a cliff, is 500 meters long and has a total area of about 25,000 square meters. And to relax after such a walk, you should try the traditional cappé, the long egg macaroni for which Civitella del Tronto is famous, and be sure to order sausages, cheeses, vegetables and exquisite truffles to accompany them.

8. To admire the fortress in Calaglio, the highest in Italy

General view of the fortress in Rocca Calasho / Shutterstock.com

The fortress at Rocca Calasho, one of the highest fortifications in Italy, sits at 1,460 meters and dominates the Tirino Valley and the Navelli Plateau. The purpose of the fortress was purely military and defensive, and its merging with the surrounding landscape and its advantageous location made it invulnerable.

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The picturesque ruins of the fortress served more than once as a film set for films, among which we note “Lady Hawk”, “The Journey of the Bride”, “Padre Pio”, “The Name of the Rose”, “Event Horizon”. Because of the beauty of these places, filmmakers and cameramen call the area from the fortress in Rocca Calaggio to Santo Stefano di Sessanio “the perfect shot.”

9. Read a poem in Sulmona, Ovid’s hometown

The church of San Francesco della Scarpa and the side portal, part of the so-called “Rotonda San Francesco” / Shutterstock.com

Sulmona, a city rich in history, art and culture, is known as the birthplace of Publius Ovidius Nazon, author of the poem Metamorphoses. The remains of the ancient Roman municipality of Sulmo can be seen, for example, at the excavated site of the temple of Hercules at the foot of Mount Morrone. Sulmona is renowned for its metalworking and in the Middle Ages it was home to an important jewelry school. Among the most popular attractions are Piazza Maggiore, a historic site which today hosts reenactments of jousting tournaments, the 1256 aqueduct that runs through the square and the Fountain del Vecchio (“Old Man’s Fountain”) which dates from 1474 and is among the first Renaissance monuments in the city. Of the numerous churches we shall mention: Santa Maria della Tomba of the XII century, San Francesco della Scarpa of 1290 as well as the monumental complex of Santissima Annunziata (Annunciation) and of course the cathedral of San Panfilo (Saint Pamphilius). In addition, Sulmona is known all over the world for the production of bonbonnières, a tradition that dates back to the end of the fifteenth century.

10. Walk under the waterfall in Caramanico Terme

Panorama of Caramanico-Terme / Shutterstock.com

Caramanico’s health centers and spas use thiocarbamide and oligomineral water from the Salute, Gisella and Pisciarello springs, which have anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties, and offer a wide range of treatments for respiratory, hearing and musculoskeletal problems. Massage, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, cosmetic procedures and fitness are applied here. The Thermal Center also has a children’s department, which helps young patients. Thanks to the unique location of Caramanico Terme in the Majella National Park, guests have the opportunity to combine health treatments with excursions in the reserve, visiting numerous museums and attractions.

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