Geographically, Abruzzo is a region of central Italy, but has always been linked to the history of Southern Italy. The mountainous terrain hindered communications, and was the cause of the isolation the region throughout its history. In ancient times Abruzzo was inhabited by several peoples, until conquered by the Romans in the third century BC.
After the decline of the Roman Empire, the region broke up into small feudal states and during the early Middle Ages Abruzzo was under the control of the Lombard Duke of Spoleto. In the 12th century the Normans conquered the territory, which became part of the Kingdom of Sicily and under Frederick II of Hohenstaufen Sulmona was the regional capital. In 1272 Charles I of Anjou divided the territory of Abruzzo into two provinces, with a common governor residing in Chieti.
In the 18th century Abruzzo became part of the Bourbon kingdom of Naples. In 1860 the region became part of united Italy. In 1948 Abruzzi was joined with Molise, to the south, to form the region of Abruzzi and Molise; but in 1963 the two regions were separated again.