All About Abruzzo
The Environment and Parks
The Parco Nazionale di Abruzzo was established in 1922, making it the
oldest in Italy and one of the oldest in Europe. The Parco Nazionale
del Maiella, the Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso and the Parco Regionale
del Sirente Velino were set up during the 1990s.
37 nature reserves were also established in addition to this. 33% of the
Abruzzo region's entire area has been made into a national nature reserve,
the highest percentage of any region in Europe. This unspoilt landscape
with its many species of animals is the ideal place to explore.
Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso
The Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso (150,000 hectares) consists of two
mountain chains, namely the rugged Gran Sasso massif and the more gentle
Monti della Laga. The Gran Sasso, "Italy's largest rock" is
a wild landscape characterized by jagged peaks, ridges and sheer-falling
rock faces. The Corno Grande peak at 2,912 metres and the highest in the
Apennines is also part of the Gran Sasso range. While the many peaks on
the eastern side and the massif's spectacular steep chalk rock faces that
rise sharply from the hilly countryside create a rather Alpine-like landscape,
the western side featuring the Campo Imperatore plateau (approx. 1,600
metres) is a landscape offers a rather unfamiliar experience of distance
and altitude. In fact the area is known as the "little Tibet"
and has often been used as the backdrop for a number of spaghetti westerns.
Campo Imperatore is 30 km long and about 8 km wide. During the summer
months, this a wonderful place in which to ride and hike, while during
the winter it provides an ideal setting for unforgettably unique cross-country
skiing or snowshoe expeditions. Hikers setting out to discover the valleys,
canyons, peaks and pastures will find themselves stopping on numerous
occasions, not only to wipe the sweat from their brows but also to admire
the wonderful landscape and breathtaking beauty of this area. And even
if you're not too keen on walking for miles, you can still enjoy most
of the area's beauty by car.
And it is from this plateau that access is gained to the
eternal snow of the Calderone, Europe's most southerly glacier. At these
altitudes, you will be able to enjoy the crystalline shape of the Apennine
edelweiss and the colours of the mountain orchids, and with a bit of luck
you might also be greeted with the sight of an Abruzzo ibex or golden
After climbing for around an hour from Campo Imperatore,
you'll be treated to views across the whole of central Italy, from the
beaches of the Adriatic coast in the east to the Tyrrhenian Sea in the
west - provided, that is, that it's a clear day.
Further to the north, you will find lake Campotosto and
the "valley of the hundred waterfalls". This is where the Gran
Sasso massif passes over into the more gentle Monti della Laga. The landscape
is characterized by its pine, beech and birch forests (the latter is a
rarity in Italy), which are peppered with small and clear streams. These
watercourses combine to form a large number of waterfalls that are a spectacular
sight in summer and in winter they freeze over creating a wonderful natural
Parco Nazionale del Maiella
The Maiella mountains are named after the mysterious Greek heroine Maja,
who searched for medicinal herbs in the Abruzzo mountains for her son
who had been fatally wounded in battle. Locals say that the morphology
of the Maiella chain of mountains resembles the silhouette of Maja, protecting
her sons, the people of the Abruzzo region. It is for this reason that
the locals like to refer to it as "Montagna madre" (Mother mountain)
or "Montagna Sacra" (holy mountain).
The Parco Nazionale del Maiella stretches across 86,000
hectares with Monte Amaro, the Maiella massif range reaches a height of
2,795 m. During the summer the slopes are lush, green and there are plenty
of forests and sources of water. The Maiella is a limestone range and
has a total of 61 peaks. There are over 1,800 different species of fauna
and flora, this a paradise for mountain botanists from all over the world
and the spring bloom has to be seen to be believed! As the legend indicates
the flora is particularly rich in medicinal herbs. The Alpine poppy and
the Maiella edelweiss are present on the highest peaks. Over the last
few years the attractive Apennine Wolf (Lupus italicus) has been more
frequently seen. The same is true of the brown bears (Ursus arctus marsicanus),
the golden eagle, chamois and the pellegrin falcon. As an environmental
indicator of intact ecosystem, the shy otter is also at home here.
The Maiella region is not only an area of rich ecology,
human culture can be traced back 300,000 years. The characteristic beauty
of the landscape also made the region a magnet for ascetic and hermits
during the early period of Christianity, who built a large number of sanctuaries
and hermitages some of which are in spectacular locations. In the more
recent past it has been pastoral nomads ("Transumanza") and
the "Tholos", the round characteristic stone buildings, that
have also become a characteristic of the region.
The 130 km long Abruzzo coastline can be divided into two sections. To
the north the coastline is flat and sandy, the southern coastline is characterised
by cliffs and rocks punctuated by small and large sandy beaches. Most
of the Adriatic beaches fall gently into the water and are ideal for families
with children and for swimmers looking for calmer waters. In high season
(from the end of July until the beginning of September, peaking around
the 15th of August), these beaches are full because of their popularity
among Italians. However in n May, June, the beginning of July, September
and October, these beaches are ideal for a quiet and relaxing beach holiday.
From Alba Adriatica to Ortona you will find long white sandy beaches,
behind which rise hills with mulberry trees, strawberry trees and broom.
The Gran Sasso Massif and the Monti della Laga rise in the background.
Between Martinsicuro and Silvi in the Teramo province, there is an area
known as "the seven sisters". This term is used to describe
7 beach resorts. Alba Adriatica, Giulianova, Roseto degli Abruzzo, Pineto
and Silvi are all very nice and at these beaches you will find everything
you are likely to need. The smell of liquorice is particularly intense
in the Pineto area, here you will find a beach with a small pine forest.
The trees, shaped by the wind into their characteristic parasol shape,
provide welcome shade. Silvi is a well known seaside resort but the sea
is not the only attraction: from "Silvi alta", the part of the
town that is located on a 250 metre hill, you can enjoy views over large
parts of the central Adriatic and can even see the Yugoslav coast on a
are excellent facilities in the Pescara province, along with leisure activities.
There is also a modern yacht harbour in Pescara, which organizes events
such as sailing competitions during the summer months. There are several
beach resorts with good facilities along the 15 km stretch of coast between
Montesilvano, Pescara and Francavilla. Pescara is also a well-known venue
for national and international beach volleyball tournaments. From Ortona
to Vasto and on to San Salvo, the coast becomes quite different, the bays
cut further into the land. Shingle beaches and rocks interchange with
small sandy coves. You will find small dunes in several locations such
as in Lido di Casalbordino. While some are covered with typical Mediterranean
scrub, in other places they appear to stretch out into the sea and form
small sheltered bays. But perhaps the nicest stretch of the Abruzzo coast
is to be found in the south: between Lido di Casalbordino and Punta Aderci.
The deep-blue waters of this section offer a wealth of aquatic flora and
fauna. This area is also a nature reserve.
You will find the famous Trabocchi coast - UNESCO Cultural Heritage of
the World Site - between Ortona and San Salvo. Here you can discover the
unique remains of an almost long-gone fishing era, the Trabocchi, peculiar
wooden lake dwellings.
Most of the towns in the Abruzzo region are a bridge between tradition
and modern-day life. History makes its presence felt almost everywhere
in the form of old churches, castles, villas and Palazzi. Yet all the
conveniences associated with modern living are also present. Whether you
are interested in culture or just want to enjoy the shops and atmosphere,
there's something here for everyone.
The towns do not have the same sprawling dimensions as other regions.
The large number of public squares are used as a meeting place for old
and young, especially during the summer months. Maintaining a cultural
identity and a low population density (1.25 million residents in the entire
region have given the Abruzzo region Italy's lowest crime rates. The standard
of living is high and Foreign tourists are still a rarity in the towns.
Italian is still spoken in the cafés and bars, the Abruzzo region
is still a paradise for Italian authenticity!
L'Aquila with its 70,000 residents is situated on the southwest side of
the Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso at 721m above sea level. The town has
been enjoying economic growth over the last few years. A university town
(founded in 1458), it is a lively and dynamic place with rich cultural
life. It often plays host to jazz concerts and theatre performances.
The large number of "Piazze", which are all adorned with fountains,
churches or Palazzi, the fashion boutiques and nice restaurants all
conspire to make L'Aquila an inviting town with the charm of the undiscovered.
Here you can enjoy the Italian way of life in the town's many elegant
cafés and cappuccino bars, in the warm summer months life in
the town moves out into the streets. You can sense a zest for life
and, rooted in its own history, the town's identity. The town is characterised
by its Romanesque architecture. The most important church in L'Aquila
is the Basilica by S. Maria di Collemaggio dating back to 1287. It's
typical of the Romanesque style found in the Abruzzo region. Those
interested in art will find small attractions in every corner of the
town centre: Churches and frescos from the Middle Ages, renaissance
and baroque periods, charming courtyards, arcades, "Palazzi Nobiliari" (noble
palaces) and manor houses (Palazzo Centi, Palazzo Dragonetti, the renaissance
manor house of Jacopo di Notar Nanni, the Villa of Buccio di Ranallo,
and Palazzo Alfieri among others). There is a pleasant small pine forest
on the outskirts of the town a "green lung" where you can
go on those hot summer evenings for a breath of cooler air. Click here
for new opportunity to buy Italian property in Fossa just 25k from L'Aquila
Chieti is the ancient Teate which was the main city of the Italic Marrucini
population. In Roman times (about the first century B.C.) Chieti was a
Roman municipality. It lies on the hills on the right side of the river
Pescara and from the city you can see as far as the mountains of Gran
Sasso and the Maiella. Its Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Giustino who
is the patron saint of the city. It was built during the early Middle
Ages, but it was almost completely rebuilt during the fourteenth century
and continuously restored until the eighteenth century. Its façade
and right side were designed by Guido Cirilli from 1920 to 1936, inspired
by the remains of the fourteenth-century building. The fine bell tower
which overlooks the main square, was begun in 1335 and finished in 1398
by Antonio da Lodi. The interior of the cathedral has a Latin cross shape,
with a nave and two side aisles. You can see a silver bust of Saint Giustino,
work of Nicola da Guardiagrele. in the apse on the left. Downstairs there
is the crypt. Its Romanesque structure has recently been restored to as
it was in the eleventh century and frescoes of the eleventh and twelfth
centuries have been discovered and restored. In the beautiful Villa Comunale,
surrounded by a park, you can visit the Museo Nazionale di Antichità
(National Museum of Antiquity) where you can see the most important archaeological
collection in Abruzzo. There you can see many objects from different archaeological
sites in Abruzzo, from the Iron Age to the Roman period. Worth mentioning
is the statue of king Nevio Populeio, called the Capestrano warrior. It
is a clear sign of the establishment of the monarchy early in the sixth
century B.C. Another building worth visiting in Chieti is the Marruccino
Theatre, which was inaugurated in 1818 and called Ferdinando I theatre
however after the unity of Italy in 1861 it changed its name to the present
is the ancient town of Vicus Aternum which was a common port for the people
of Vestini, Marracini and Peligni. Pescara was destroyed by the barbarian
invasions and later on it was rebuilt with the new name of Piscaria. In
1927 it became a province joining two different districts: Castellamare
Adriatico (which was part of the province of Teramo) on the northern side
of the river, and Pescara (which was part of the province of Chieti) on
the southern side. Nowadays Pescara is a modern and active city, and the
one which has the biggest number of inhabitants in the whole region. The
administrative centre of the city is located in Piazza Italia, where you
can visit the Palazzo del Governo (Government Building), seat of Prefecture
and Provincial Administration. It was built in 1927 by the architect Vincenzo
Pilotti and inside it, in the provincial council hall, there is the painting
“La figlia di Jorio” dedicated to the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio
by Franceso Paolo Michetti. The oldest part of the city lies on the southern
bank of the river. Nowadays it is mostly restored and rebuilt, and it
is full of restaurants and fashionable bars which get lively at night.
In this area you can find two interesting museums: the Abruzzo Museum
and Gabriele D’Annunzio’s House Museum. The first one is located
in the former Bourbon penal colony. It’s a relevant ethnic-anthropological
spot where you can follow the story of the people who used to live in
that region. It also preserves many objects pertaining to the customs
of the pastoral society in Abruzzo. The second museum is the house where
Gabriele D’Annunzio was born the 12th March 1863. It keeps many
of the letters, clothes and relics belonged to the poet. Close to D’Annunzio’s
house there is the Cathedral of Saint Cetteo, also called Temple of Conciliation.
The architect Cesare Bazzani built it from 1933 to 1938 drawing his inspiration
from the Romanesque style churches in Abruzzo. Inside it you can see Luisa
D’annunzio’s grave (poet’s mother) and a fine painting
by Guercino, called S. Francis which was donated by Gabriele D’Annunzio.
Teramo lies in a valley surrounded by hills and in front of the Laga mountains
and the Gran Sasso massif. It stands at the confluence of river Vezzosa
and river Tordino. That is the reason why it was called Interamnia (between
two rivers) Praetuziorum during Roman times. Teramo had its golden age
under the empire of August and Adrian and there are still many examples:
the Thermae (Thermal baths), the Amphitheatre built in the III-IVth century
A.D. and the Theatre built in 30 B.C of this period. You can still see
two arches of travertine marble. The Cathedral is a very important building,
situated in the centre of the city and dedicated to Saint Bernardo. The
construction of the church began in 1158, but it was renewed many times
until it turned into a Baroque church. Nonetheless the baroque components
were cancelled by the restoration in 1930. The façade has a valuable
portal, by Diodato Romano (1332), whilst the battlement rising above the
portal was added afterwards. The square planned bell tower is by Antonio
da Lodi (1493). The interior of the church has a nave and two side aisles.
The front part of the church is Romanesque, whilst the back part is Gothic.
The Museo Civico (Civic Museum) with its picture-gallery, and the Museo
Archeologico (Archaeological Museum) are both worth a visit.
For more information on towns of Abruzzo see http://www.fallingrain.com/world/IT/1/
Sport and Activities
The Abruzzo region offers an extraordinary variety of activities.
Hiking and Trekking
There are a large number of hiking and trekking paths inside and outside
the national parks, some of which are well marked. Educational paths have
been established in several parks. There's everything here from a leisurely
walk to a challenging peak top hike. The gentle slopes of the Maiella
range and several ascents starting out from the Campo Imperatore are very
popular among less experienced hikers.
The Maiella (2793 m) and Gran-Sasso massif ranges (2912 m) offer the perfect
environment for mountaineers. It's also worth bearing in mind that because
the sea is much closer than in many other mountainous areas, the heights
given for the Abruzzo region actually represent much steeper climbing.
Corno Grande, Corno Piccolo, Pizzo d'Intermesoli and Monte Camicia are
popular spots, the northeast face of the Corno Grande with a rise of 1000
m is legendary. Here alone there are around 40 different routes. The north
side of the Murelle is famous for its rugged beauty in the Maiella massif
range. Other highlights include the Sirente and the Serra di Celano. Climbing
irons and ice axes are needed in the winter for these routes. Mountain
guides and local branches of the Alpino Italiano club offer courses and
Climbing and Free Climbing
di roccia" in Roccamorice offers 250 equipped routes in south-facing
solid rock. Climbers and free-climbers will find around 800 routes in
20 different locations. The most popular faces are those at Roccamorice,
Pennapiedimante, Pietrasecca, Petrella Liri, Pizzoferrato, Pietracamela,
San Vito and Monticchio.
Cycling and Mountain Biking
Given that it offers a wide range of altitudes and lower traffic volumes
than elsewhere, this is the ideal region for cycling enthusiasts. The
Maielletta and Campo Imperatore inclines offer experienced cyclists an
experience similar to those in the Dolomites. Well trained cyclists can
push themselves to the limits as they climb 200 metres over a distance
of 35 km. The rolling countryside between the mountains and the sea offers
the ideal environment for keen amateurs. Beginners will also find routes
that are more flat. Those able to transport their bikes to Campo Imperatore
will be able to discover the breathtaking beauty of the area without having
to sweat too much. A cycle route is currently being constructed that will
take in the entire Abruzzo coast (approx. 120 km). If you want to stray
from the tarmac onto the more bumpy paths and routes in an attempt to
discover the heights and hills of the Abruzzo region, then you'll need
a mountain bike. A free guide in English is available at the tourist office
Windsurfing enthusiasts will find a large number of suitable and picturesque
spots along the long sandy coastline and the lakes (Barrea, Scanno, Bomba
and Casoli) in the heart of the Apennine region.
You can also discover the rivers by canoe in the Abruzzo region (such
as Aterno, Tirino, Pescara and Sangro). The Lago di Campotosto (1,400
m) is particularly beautiful with its views of the Gran Sasso.
Sailors will find several large mooring places on the coast in the harbours
such as Pescara, Ortona, Giulianova and Vasto.
16 different lift sites are in operation in the Abruzzo region. The most
important of these are Roccaraso and Campo Felice. In the higher climbs,
skiing is possible from December till April. The downhill runs of the
Passo Lanciano, from where you can see the sea on a clear day, are spectacular.
Skiing courses are also available. Many of the resorts are equipped with
snow-making machines. Cross-country skiers will find a large number of
trails in the national parks such as Macchiarvana and Gran Sasso National
Parks. The Abruzzo region is a hot tip for beginners and experienced skiers.
The tourist office has published a free guide in English in which the
various routes are described in detail.
More advanced skiers can try out exciting ski trails away from the beaten
path. Trained guides are available as well as tour suggestions in the
appropriate books (I.e. "Sciescursionismo fra Lazio e Abruzzo"
published in the Edizioni IL LUPO & Co. in Italian).
Whether you're a beginner or an experienced rider, this region simply
offers everything. There are a number of riding tracks where you will
find well qualified riding instructors. Please contact us for riding tracks
with support for English speaking guests. In addition to horse trekking
and short excursions, there is a national endurance race that takes place
on Campo Imperatore at the beginning of August.
will also find a number of courses in the region. Thanks to the excellent
conditions offered by the climate, a round of golf is possible all year
round regardless of your handicap. "Cerreto di Miglianico Golf Club"
is located at the foot of the San Michele Arcangelo Chapel and commands
views of the snow-covered Maiella mountain range peaks. The course was
designed by the famous American architect Ronald Kirby. The 18-hole course
is located in the picturesque Val di Foro (Par 72, 6184 metres long) and
is suitable for all handicaps. The course also welcomes non-members, so
whether you're a regular player or are interested in taking up the sport,
this is a wonderful way to pass the time.
The "Circolo golf d'Abruzzo" close to Chieti is another excellent
course. The course boasts a fantastic location. It is situated between
small hills and lakes and is framed by the Gran Sasso and the Maiella
If an architect had been asked to create the perfect landscape for kite
flying then the result would surely have come close to that offered by
the Abruzzo region. At 42° north and situated between two seas is
a chain of mountains with peaks at 2-3000 m, wide valleys and accessible
by a large number of routes.
The region's complex relief offers flying enthusiasts almost perfect conditions
for kite flying, paragliding, and gliding. Information about gliding is
available at L'Aquila and Pescara airports. The most popular places for
kite flying and paragliders are the Gran Sasso massif and the Sirente-Velino.
The Villa Santa Maria (L'Aquila) centre is a good place to call for longer
flights between the Gran Sasso and Maiella. There are schools for kite
flying and paragliding in Loreto Aprutino and Tocco da Casauria.
Visitors to the Abruzzo region during spring and the early summer will
be treated to a wonderful show of colour in the form of the spring bloom
("Fioritura"). The daytime temperatures at this time of year
are a comfortable 20°C. It's quite likely that the peaks of the Apennines
will still be covered in snow forming a wonderfully picturesque background.
Temperatures at the coast rise to approx. 24°C during high summer
and 20°C inland. Temperatures can rise to over 30°C on some days.
You will usually find a welcome fresh breeze in the inland areas and the
cooler mountain regions are within a short distance. The autumn also offers
similar temperatures in which to enjoy the wonderful colours of the season.
From November onwards, you should expect more rain. You will find favourable
conditions for cross-country skiing during the winter.
Food and Wine
Abruzzo has a superb and very distinctive cuisine. Main courses include
maccheroni all chitarra and scrippelle’mbuse, thin pancakes sprinkled
with sheep’s milk cheese and cinnamon. Timballi are savoury rice
or pasta baked in moulds; legend has it that this dish was brought to
Teramo by a Breton sailor who deserted from Napoleon’s army, who
married and settled in the town. May Day sees the preparation of virtu,
which includes seven types of meat, seven types of dry pulses, seven types
of vegetables, seven shapes of pasta and seven seasonings … the
whole lot cooked for seven hours. On May Day in Teramo, virtu is sold
in the streets of Teramo.
Apart from the elaborate virtu, the hallmark of Abruzzo cooking is simplicity.
Sheep, pork and kid are the basis of most of the meat dishes. Turkey,
rabbit and stuffed fowl are other mainstays, and the long expanse of Adriatic
coastline provides wonderful seafood and the classic local dish of brodetto:
fish soup. The town of Pescara even owes its name to the Italian for fish
(pesce). The wines range from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo reds and Trebbiano
d’Abruzzo whites. There is Ratafia, a wine made from black cherries
fermented under the sun, and the Doppo Arancia orange liqueur. For more
information see - www.winecountry.it/regions/abruzzo/cities.php
Fairs and Festivals
• Francavilla a Mare: Carnival
• Città Sant'Angelo:
Carnival Parade of Floats (February).
• San Valentino: Frittata Festival
• Picciano: Traditional Befana
• Lanciano: Medieval Pageant
and Horse Race (September).
• Cappelli Sul Tavo: Palio del
Pupo Costumed Races (August).
• Villamagna: The Turks and
St. Margerite Historical Re-enactment (July).
• Cepagatti: Historical Parade
with Floats, Fireworks and Celebrations (August).
• Rivisondoli: Living Nativity
Scene: hundreds of costumed figures re-enact the arrival of the Three
Kings at the manger (January).
• Loreto Aprutino: Procession
of the Ox: this beautifully costumed procession culminates when a sumptuously
outfitted ox kneels before the statue of St. Zopito (Monday after Pentecost).
• Scanno: Bonfire Festival:
enormous bonfires are lit on the surrounding hillsides to commemorate
St. Martin (November).
Traditional Wedding Ceremony: re-enactment of the unique local wedding
• Popoli: Trout and Shrimp Festival
• L'Aquila: Pope Celestino's
Pardon Ceremonies (August).
Good Friday Procession (sunset, Good Friday).
• Sulmona: La Madonna in Piazza:
medieval folklore event culminating in a staged pageant (Easter Sunday).
• Fara Filiorum Petri: Farchie
Festival: giant torches illuminate this festival for St. Anthony (January)
• Celano: Costumed Procession
and Fireworks (late August).
• Cappelle Sultano: Palio of
the Puppets: giant puppets form a procession through the town, then
explode in a shower of fireworks (August).
• Rocca di Mezzo: Daffodil Festival:
folklore dances, presentations and a parade of flowery floats to celebrate
the arrival of spring (last Sunday in May).
Plowing Festival: re-enactment of a 17th-century custom, culminating
with a race to plow the most perfect furrow (last Saturday in August).
• Pacentro: Festival of the
Madonna of Loreto, with a traditional bare-foot "gypsy race"
(first Sunday of September).
• Bucchianico: Flower Festival:
re-enactment of a 13th-century military stratagem that saved the town
from destruction, with costumed parades, flower-bedecked carts and exquisite
miniature flower floats worn on the local ladies' heads (third Sunday
• Villa Santa Maria: Culinary
Festival: world-famous chefs who hail from the region gather for a three-day
demonstration of their skills, based on techniques and recipes that
date back over centuries (October).
for information of the Pescara Jazz festival
Travel and other Information on Abruzzo
Everything from travel to the weather, a useful resource where new information
is added regarding accommodation, which airlines operate to regional airports
for more information
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