Lake Pietranzoni on Campo Imperatore

Seven Reasons to Visit Abruzzo

For ages, the Abruzzo of the Apennines (Italy’s backbone mountains) has been a well-kept secret. Although this is changing, it is changing slowly. Inland Abruzzo still feels like a world apart, a place from a bygone era. Here are seven reasons to visit (not in order of importance):



Lush greenery. It is difficult to overstate how green inland Abruzzo is. Home to three national parks—Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise, Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga, and Parco Nazionale della Majella—a whopping thirty-five percent of its land is protected, making Abruzzo #1 for land conservation in Italy.


Reverence and deep love for nature.  It follows then that people here care deeply about nature. For example, in Scanno, many roadside panels educate visitors on how best to cohabitate with the Marsicano bear, a species that lives only in this area. Today, only about 55 animals remain, but local efforts are seeking to help its number grow.


Cleanliness.  Be sure to try the freshwater from the local public fountains. Drinking water from these mountains is some of the best we’ve ever tasted (in or out of a bottle). Besides the water, the air here is pristine and fresh, and you will hardly see any litter anywhere.


Exquisite cycling and hiking.  For the above obvious reasons, Apennine Abruzzo is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.  The mountains afford incredible climbs and descents by bike or on foot, and the epic views are soul-stirring.  Rivers and streams running through mossy woods create fairytale scenes. Each of the three national parks is distinct in its topography, offering a trio of varied landscapes. And, relative to other parts of Italy, the crowds here are nonexistent (save July and August when Italians are on vacation).


Italy of the vintage postcard. Mountain-perched communities appear out of another epoch. While hotels and alberghi diffusi offer all the comforts a modern traveler might expect, step outside the door and you'll find a place utterly unspoiled by mass tourism (e.g., no hordes wielding selfie-sticks; no shops exploding with souvenir trinkets). Amble the cobblestone alleys of Castel del Monte, Caramanico, Pescocostanzo, Scanno, or Pescasseroli (many of them Borghi più belli d’Italia) and immerse yourself in an Italy of the days of yore.


The Abruzzesi of the Apennines are not a wordy or a showy people, but their pride in their tradition and culture is palpable. Although, geographically, the region lies in central Italy, it is culturally and historically more identified with the south—and has a hospitality to match.


Simple but delicious cuisine. The cuisine of this region is straightforwardly delicious. Famed American food writer and Italiophile Nancy Harmon Jenkins describes Abruzzese food as having “the aura of agriculture” and indeed, local ingredients and pastoralism (of sheep, principally) drive the cuisine. Distinctive dishes here include spaghetti alla chitarra (named after the guitar-like tool to make this square-shaped spaghetti) and pallotte cacio e ova (egg-bread-cheese balls, also from Molise, fried and dressed in tomato sauce).



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