Region is known for the marine localities and the three large National Parks: in Abruzzo almost one third of the total surface is natural reserve. There is no place better than here for the lovers of trips, for who is fascinated with wild plants and wild animals, to admire pure landscapes and to enjoy yourself with a splendid sea. Abruzzo is a region in central Italy lying just 70 miles east of Rome and bordering Marche to the north, Lazio to the west and south-west, Molise to the south-east and the Adriatic Sea to the east. Although geographically a central region, from a cultural and economical point of view it part of the Mezzogiorno or Southern Italy.
Abruzzo is divided into four provinces:
One third of the region is designated as national or regional park.
- Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga (Gran Sasso National Park )
- Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise (Abruzzo National Park)
- Parco Nazionale della Majella (National Park of the Majella)
- Parco Naturale Regionale Sirente-Velino (Sirente Velino Regional Park)
- Lago di Barrea (Barrea Lake Wetlands)
In the Middle Ages the region began to be called Abruzzo, from the Latin Aprutium. Then the region was divided into two parts: Further Abruzzo and Hither Abruzzo. In 1860, with the Unity of Italy, the region of Molise was added to Abruzzo and they were called Abruzzi and Molise. In 1963 Abruzzo and Molise became separate entities once more.
Though Italians once thought of Abruzzo as a remote region separated from Rome by the Appenines, a modern expressway system has opened the region to tourism. Most of Abruzzo lies within a few hours of Rome and is covenient for day trips from the capital as well as Naples. Abruzzo's more populous east is made up of vast sandy beaches that stretch along the Adriatic; its west of hills that rise quickly to mountains. The mountaineous region of l'Aquila, which lies nearest Rome, contains castles, ancient ruins and spectacular mountain vistas.
There is an international airport (Abruzzo International) in Pescara, a large city on Abruzzo's Adriatic coast. Abruzzo International Airport is now served by Ryanair with lowfare flights from London, Barcelona and Frankfurt; other discount airlines are also adding service to Pescara. A-24 and A-25 are modern autostradas that cross Abruzzo and provide easy access by car or bus from Rome. Abruzzo can also be reached by train from Rome's Termini rail station, providing a truly picturesque view of the valleys of the Appenines and some of the most charming hill towns in Italy. (Be advised that as not many foreigners have yet forayed into the region, many conductors are unfamiliar with "Euro Rail Passes" and other foreign-issued travel documents.)
Abruzzo's capital, L'Aquila, is a beautiful city in an even more picturesque mountain setting, and makes a good base for exploring the region.
There is a bus system which travels to all major cities ( Pescara, L'Aquila, Chieti) but be warned.These are not always on time and it is advisable for the traveller to ask ahead of time what bus is going where.
All Italians consider food to be very important, and Abruzzo is no exception. Here are some of the local specialities that you may encounter:
- Spaghetti all'Amatriciana
- Spaghetti alla chitarra (square strands of pasta served with a tomato sauce)
- Fagioli e cotiche di maiale (stewed beans and pork rind)
- Prosciutto di cinghiale (wild boar ham)
- Testicoli di mulo (small round lean pork sausages; not made from testicles, just named after them as they are always sold in pairs)
- Pecorino d'Abruzzo (local sheep's cheese)
- Burrata (a truly rare delicacy - a ball of tangy cheese with a soft buttery center)
- Salame di fegato pazzo (spiced liver salami)
- Salame di fegato dolce (liver salami made with honey)
- Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (a red wine)
- Rosatello aquilano (a rosé wine)
- Corfinio della Valle Peligna (a light white wine)
- Gran Sasso (one of the bitter digestive liqueurs that Italians are so fond of. Beware, the alcohol content is upwards of 70% proof)
What to do
Beaches. Abruzzo’s 129 km. long sandy coastline is home to a many popular beach resorts. Beaches worth visiting are Vasto on Abruzzo’s southern coast; mid-coast Silvi Marina, which is rated among the best beaches in Italy, Francavilla al Mare and Pieneto, and on Abruzzo’s northern coast Alba Adriatica and Martinsicuro. Though the beaches of Abruzzo are pristine and the waters of the Adriatic are warm, few Italian beaches have full-time life guards, especially during ideal bathing times in late afternoon. It is best to follow posted advisories and flags describing the sea's condition on the day you decide to take a swim. Most beaches have corded off bathing areas - pass these at your own risk, as the waters deepen significantly very quickly.
Skiing. Abruzzo has 21 ski areas with 368 km. of runs, all within a few hours of Rome. The most developed resort being Roccaraso, followed by Campo Felice, and Campo Imperatore. Located in the highest region of the Apennines, these ski areas are at heights nearly comparable to many Alpine resorts. Because of their proximity to the Adriatic and winter precipitation patterns, they often have more snow than the Alps. Abruzzo also is popular for cross country skiing, especially on the high plain of Campo Imperatore in the Gran Sasso as well as the Piana Grande in the Majella.
Hiking, horseback riding, mountain climbing and sight seeing. Abruzzo's extensive park system lies within two hours of Rome or less and includes natural beauty akin to national parks in the western United States. Within Abruzzo's parks lie some of Italy's most beautiful ancient hill towns rivaling those of Tuscany and Umbria.