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    What to see in Abruzzo: natural parks, villages and unknown places

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    Joel Fulleda

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    "Strong and gentle" Abruzzo has been defined: with its vast and diversified territorial heritage, with its wonderful and characteristic villages, with its stretch of sea among the most beautiful on Italian soil, with its productive countryside, with its important mountains, with a wealth of fauna unique in Europe.

    Abruzzo really encompasses everything, with a complete offer to say the least for those who really want to know a heritage like that of Abruzzo.


    1. Most beautiful towns and villages
    2. Abruzzo lakes, parks and reserves
    3. Where to go to the mountains in winter
    4. Where to go to the beach in summer
    5. User questions and comments

    Most beautiful towns and villages

    Abruzzo, with its 23 characteristic small villages, is second in the official ranking of the Most Beautiful Villages of Italy: it is a region with a concentration of breathtaking beauties, scattered in the various municipalities. You just have to decide where to start, and then see them all.

    1 - Navelli, L'Aquila

    In a village of about 550 inhabitants, in Navelli there are many places of interest including churches, castles, palaces and historic gates, a necropolis, the Piana di Navelli with its DOP saffron since 2005, called "Oro Rosso dell'Abruzzo" .

    • Recommended visit time: 1 day
    • What to see in and around the city: the historic center with the churches, the Castle and the saffron crops in the Navelli Plain. At 4 km, to visit the town of Civitaretenga, with its magnificent castle and tower
    • Get directions
    • Hotel and b & b starting from € 28,00 per room -

    2 - Pretoro, Chieti

    medieval village with a triangular structure along the eastern side of the Majella massif, in Pretoro stands out its castle from which the current urban agglomeration of the 1600s originated, its archaeological excavations, its crucial role as the main surveillance point on the territory, its agricultural-pastoral past and the current textile industry, its magnificent 3 churches, its Nature Reserve and famous ski areas.

    • Recommended visit time: 1 day
    • What to see in and around the city: the churches of the historic center, the necropolis of the Crucifix (2 km), the Hermit's cave (8 km), the Valle del Foro Nature Reserve (10 km), the ski routes of passolanciano-Maieletta (14 km Km) and Cima Blockhaus (at 18 Km)
    • Get directions
    • Hotel and b & b starting from € 40,00 per room -

    3 - Penne, Pescara

    The municipality that represents the gateway to the Gran Sasso National Park and Monti della Laga, passing through the Natural Reserve of Lake Penne: of pre-Roman origins, Penne is also the "City of Brick" given its preponderance in the construction of all the buildings in the town. An unmissable concentrate of military and civil architecture.

    • Recommended visit time: 2 days
    • What to see in and around the city: Churches, towers and palaces of the historic center, the countless fountains including the Fontana dell'Acqua Ventina in the Valle del Cupo, the unmissable Reserve of Lake Penne, a protected area of ​​1987 hectares since 1.000
    • Get directions
    • Hotel and b & b starting from € 30,00 per room -

    4 - Civitella del Tronto, Teramo

    Civitella del Tronto is a small town in the province of Teramo, yet important symbol of the last, strenuous resistance of the Bourbon Kingdom and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies bent to the Unification of Italy and witnessed by the last bulwark of the magnificent Spanish Fortress which stands in the highest part of the city. Narrow, picturesque streets, churches of value and unique caves make Civitella an unmissable destination.

    • Recommended visit time: 2 days
    • What to see in and around the city: the Spanish Fortress that dominates the city, the Ruetta (considered the narrowest street in Italy), the gates and churches of the historic center, the Tiscar Museum of Weapons and Ancient Maps, the Abbey of Santa Maria di Montesanto with the its monastic complex, the Monument to Matteo Wade (the Irishman who resisted the Turkish siege of 1806), the Caves of S.Angelo, Salomone and Salinello
    • Get directions
    • Hotel and b & b starting from € 40,00 per room -
    • Private Tour of the Fortress of Civitella del Tronto

    5 - Scanno, L'Aquila

    Partly included within the territory of the Abruzzo National Park, Scanno is a small town at 1.000 meters above sea level, made famous by the appreciation of many photographers at an international level, so much so that it is nicknamed "City of Photographers". Also included in the territory are the ruins of Frattura, well-known ski resorts and its typical architecture of alleys and unique views.

    • Recommended visit time: 3 days
    • What to see in and around the city: Churches and buildings in the historic center, Lake Scanno with the Church of Madonna del Lago (the largest natural lake in Abruzzo), the Hermitage of S. Egidio, the former medieval village of Frattura (today with few inhabited houses and many ruins after the 1915 earthquake).
    • Get directions
    • Hotel and b & b starting from € 54,00 per room -

    Abruzzo lakes, parks and reserves

    Abruzzo is one of the richest regions in nature, and perhaps also for this reason it has the title of "Green Region of Europe": with 3 National Parks, marine protected areas and a total of 38 protected areas, with a 75% of animal and plant species from the entire European continent. From the mountains to the sea, the region's natural offer is among the best and largest in Italy.

    Gran Sasso National Park

    The Gran Sasso massif, with its almost 3.000 meters high, is the highest in the Apennines and protected by the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park and with a perimeter of 150 km. It has hiking, skiing, glaciers, plateaus routes. endless, hills that produce quality oil and wine, spectacular waterfalls, various beaches with Blue Flags, diversified and valuable fauna.

    • Recommended visit time: 5 days.
    • Get directions
    • Hotel and b & b starting from € 26,00 per room -

    To do

    • Hiking: there are hundreds of trails created and marked with the contribution of the CAI (Italian Alpine Club) in which to walk in the foothills and between small settlements, castles and necropolis.
    • Horseback riding: 320 Km. Of route that is the longest Italian horse trail, with 3 provinces crossed, along which there are refreshment points, drinking troughs and accommodation. The various itineraries follow those already used in past times that have connected the various countries for centuries.
    • Mountain bike excursions: following the same path of the horse trail it is possible to travel the same Km. by mountain bike, visiting the various points of interest with another step.
    • Food and wine tours: a dozen itineraries focused on the typical products of the area, from cheeses, wines, cereals, meats.

    2 - Campo Imperatore

    The largest plateau in the Apennine area, Campo Imperatore it is located at an altitude of 1.800 meters with an area of ​​75 sq km: the "Little Tibet" so loved by Fosco Maraini. An almost completely bare territory, also due to the altitude, yet largely populated by grazing animals and an important crossing point for many fauna.

    • Recommended visit time: 3 days
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    • Hotel and b & b starting from € 35,00 per room -

    To do

    • Visit to the Alpine Botanical Garden: at an altitude of 2.135 meters a magnificent space dedicated to the study of the cultivation of high altitude plants which in Spring / Summer gives great satisfaction to visit and admire their colors and shapes.
    • Visit to the lakes: between the Barisciano Valley and the Navelli Plateau there is an area of ​​countless lakes, among which the most panoramic is Lake Pietranzoni, in the center of Campo Imperatore, with the Monte del Corno Grande behind it.
    • Visit to the slaughterhouses: in the Fonte Vetica area, the south-eastern part of the area, the area of ​​the so-called "slaughterhouses" is worth visiting with dozens of refreshment points that sell local products Km 0 such as salami, sausages, meats (the typical arrosticini) and cheeses , which you can cook and eat outdoors in an area equipped with tables, benches and barbecue points.
    • Visit to the Castle and Rocca Calascio: Rocca Calascio houses the magnificent castle of the same name, one of the highest in Italy at 1.450 meters above sea level, with an ancient medieval village at its feet, still inhabited by some people today. The unique context was the set of many films, Italian and American, and is certainly one of the symbols of Abruzzo.

    3 - Stiffe Caves

    600.000 years ago these magnificent caves were formed, the Stiffe Caves, among the most impressive karst phenomena in Italy, located in the province of L'Aquila, in San Demetrio ne 'Vestini, accessible only since 1991, with a tourist flow of thousands attendance per year.

    • Recommended visit time: Mid day
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    • Hotel and b & b starting from € 52,00 per room -

    To do

    • Visit inside the Caves: the entire route of the Stiffe Caves covers the arc of 1 hour, but considering being able to stop in some points to admire their beauty, 1 km long at a constant temperature of 10 ° in all seasons. The Caves are divided into the Sala del Silenzio (where the river tends to dry up), the Sala della Cascata (with a sliding wall of 30 meters), the Sala delle Concrezioni and Lago Nero (the area where stalactites and stalagmites are concentrated with very little light, from which you then reach a body of water, the Black Lake, which is the oldest part of the Caves), the Last Waterfall (with a jump of 25 meters and an incredible scenography).
    • Visit to the Museum of Speleology: next to the Stiffe Caves it is a must to visit the Vincenzo Rivera Speleology Museum, with exhibits and information on various mineralogy, botany and geology.

    4 - Lake of Scanno

    In the magnificent village of Scanno, the lake of the same name is certainly not to be missed, almost at an altitude of 1.000 meters, the largest in the region, with not very spacious coasts, with some sections adapted to receive swimmers. A "magical" place where the compasses of divers lose north and where anomalous waves have often occurred.

    • Recommended visit time: Mid day.
    • To do : walk along the lakefront, boat trip and visit to the village
    • Get directions
    • Hotel and b & b starting from € 54,00 per room -

    5 - Costa dei Trabocchi

    The stretch of the coast of Chieti with jagged coves and stony beaches, is known by the name of Costa dei Trabocchi, especially for the typical pile dwellings that dot the area and which make it a special scenography, with the first overflow built in 1700, in Punta Blue. Along the coast there are also various tourist resorts with wonderful views.

    • Recommended visit time: 1 day
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    • Hotel and b & b starting from € 35,00 per room -

    To do

    • Visit to S. Vito Chietino: the first eighteenth-century overflow was built here. From the village perched on a rocky spur, you can admire the panorama of the Adriatic coast on one side and on the other there is a magnificent view of the Majella. In the area around the port there are some small sandy beaches.
    • Visit to the Castle of Ortona: from 1100, it originated as a defensive tower, then it became a real castle and, with Alfonso of Aragon, the whole structure experienced a further expansion. It has a particular trapezoidal structure with 4 circular towers; not all of the castle has survived, following damage during World War II, but it is definitely worth seeing.
    • Visit to the Punta Penna lighthouse: it has a particular value since it is the second highest lighthouse in Italy with its 70 meters. A construction from the early 900s, then destroyed in 1944 and rebuilt on the model of the original, surrounded by the Church of Santa Maria di Pennaluce and the Torre di Punta Penna.

      Where to go to the mountains in winter

      The Abruzzo of the high peaks and the Abruzzo of the vast plateaus: Winter is the ideal season to experience this magnificent region taking advantage of its infinite landscapes: downhill skiing, descents of all levels, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, walks with boots will all be activities to be practiced in more than 700 km of territory.

      1 - Field of Jupiter

      Probably the most popular destination of the Abruzzo mountains, with the highest slopes, located in the western part of the Majella National Park, Campo di Giove is also the strategic point to organize excursions to nearby towns such as Sulmona, Pescocostanzo and Pacentro.
      What strikes as soon as you arrive at Campo di Giove is the light and pure air in which it is wrapped, with a truly wild environment of huge beech and pine forests, with patches of birch and ash trees. With the snowy scenography, the small medieval village is unmissable.

      • Recommended visit time: 2 days
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      • Hotel and b & b starting from € 70,00 per room -

      To do

      • Winter sports: with 9 ski slopes, one of which is black (Porrara), Campo Giove is a skier's paradise.
      • Tour in the Trans-Siberian of Italy: travel back in time in original 20s wagons, in the midst of breathtaking landscapes, starting from Sulmona and reaching almost 1.300 meters above sea level, always within the Majella National Park.
      • Visit to the historic center of the town: it is certainly an example of the typical Abruzzo mountain architecture, together with two magnificent historic buildings, Palazzo Nanni and Palazzo Ricciardi. During the Christmas period, to see the magnificent Living Nativity.

      2 - Campo Felice

      Campo Felice is also one renowned for winter sports, on the slopes of the Velino Massif, south of L'Aquila. The peculiarity of Campo Felice is that it is one of the few ski resorts that allows the connection of two sides of the mountain that can be practiced on skis, that is from Campo Felice to the Altipiano delle Rocche.

      • Recommended visit time: 1 day
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      • Hotel and b & b starting from € 76,00 per room -

      To do

      • Winter sports: there are 21 ski slopes, including many of the red and black level.
      • Snow Tubing Experience: more than 90 meters long, it is the modern version of the old bob, so no special and expensive equipment is needed, just the desire to have fun.
      • Visit the Snow Park: 800 meters long, with the Fun Park recreational area, where you can try out unusual fun equipment and even bike on the snow.

      3 - Ovindoli, L'Aquila

      A place rich in history and a renowned mountain resort, Ovindoli, a few kilometers from L'Aquila, is a small charming village. The Monte Magnola lifts stretch for 30 km with various slopes of different levels, and with ample space for playgrounds and various winter activities.

      • Recommended visit time: 1 day
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      • Hotel and b & b starting from € 64,00 per room -

      To do

      • Winter sports: 30 km of slopes of all kinds where you can also practice snowboarding and telemarking, and the Cross-Country Stadium, a 5 km ring for cross-country skiing.
      • Visit the Alienpark: a well-equipped snow park where you can practice freestyle, slopestyle and jibbing.
      • Visit to the town center: Interesting is the town where you can find the remains of the Ovindoli and S. Potito Castle together with its Imperial Villa, the military tower of Santa Jona.

      4 - Santo Stefano di Sessanio, L'Aquila

      A town built entirely of white limestone, today veiled in its whiteness due to the passing of time, Santo Stefano di Sessanio and the expanse of roofs covered only by tiles, has an absolute and important value for Abruzzo. Her renowned lentils they tickle the palates of half the world, while its landscape and its offer of winter sports are at the highest levels.

      • Recommended visit time: 2 days
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      • Hotel and b & b starting from € 45,00 per room -

      To do

      • Winter sports: 13 km from the historic center, magnificent cross-country ski trails unfold up to an altitude of 1.500 meters right next to Lake Racollo.
      • Taste the magnificent lentils: a unique quality because grown on arid soils in the high mountains between 1.200 and 1.400 meters, flavored with the typical aromatic herbs of the Gran Sasso.
      • See the heart of the country: with its 112 inhabitants, with the magnificent Medici Tower of 1440 together with the Medici Palace, the largest church in the town, S. Stefano fuori le mura, all inserted in one of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy.

      5 - Roccaraso, L'Aquila

      Location known since the early 900s as a prestigious ski resort, especially for tourists from southern Italy, Roccaraso with its thousands of inhabitants in the lower part of L'Aquila, who can enjoy more than 100 km of slopes set in a landscape dream. Considering the value of the place, the offer of hotels and wellness centers is enormous.

      • Recommended visit time: 3 days
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      • Hotel and b & b starting from € 54,00 per room -

      To do

      • Winter sports: 110 km of ski slopes, cross-country trails, spaces for snowboarding, hiking skiing.
      • View to the historic center: houses perched on top of each other, with the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, the important local theater of the late 1600s.

        Where to go to the beach in summer

        Abruzzo has well 133 km of coastline, with a variety of beaches and coves that can satisfy any taste: from the most solitary and wild places, to the most popular and frequented beaches, to the coves to be accessed through little known paths and sea passages.

        1 - Alba Adriatica, Teramo

        Alba Adriatica or Silver Beach, as this Abruzzo town is well known, has a splendid coastline that offers various activities, entertainment and well-being, repeatedly awarded the Blue Flag for the cleanliness of its golden beach and its crystal clear waters.

        • Recommended visit time: 2 days
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        • Hotel and b & b starting from € 45,00 per room -

        To do

        • Attending the Summer Carnival: it is probably the best known event in the city. Since 1993, in the first week of August, widespread celebrations have now become important nationally.
        • Beach sports: Alba Adriatica has a strong sporting background and important teams in various sports, so that every year many summer tournaments of beach volleyball, beach soccer and beach rugby are organized.
        • Visit to the historical center: it has important places of interest such as Torre della Vibrata, the Lungomare Guglielmo Marconi (with a wonderful and long cycle path), the sixty-year-old pine forests (mountain pines transferred to the coast, now well adapted to the change of climate and protected by the authorities, symbol of the city).

        2 - Ortona, Chieti

        A magnificent town where culture and sea merge into one without equal: Ortona, the place where the Costa dei Trabocchi begins, where an initial sandy beach is followed by a rocky and pebble coast, its hill from which to enjoy the entire coastal panorama.

        • Recommended visit time: 3 days
        • Get directions
        • Hotel and b & b starting from € 49,00 per room -

        To do

        • The so-called Eastern Walk: on the Ortona hill, which overlooks the entire coast.
        • The whole route of the Costa dei Trabocchi: from Ortona, the starting point, to Vasto.
        • Visit to places of interest: The port of Ortona (the most important in Abruzzo with its troubled history), Palazzo Farnese and the Aragonese Castle.
        • Visit to the Canadian Memorial Cemetery: the "Moro River Canadian War Cemetery", in San Donato, a short walk from the center of Ortona.

        3 - Pineto, Teramo

        From its name, Pineto, it is clear that the most important feature is its lush pine forests, dating back to 1926, which extend for more than 4 km along the coast and make the landscape of the Teramo hills unique. Accompanied by a sea awarded countless times by the coveted Blue Flag.

        • Recommended visit time: 2 days
        • Get directions
        • Hotel and b & b starting from € 35,00 per room -

        To do

        • Diving: visit to the precious underwater archaeological site of the remains of the Port of Atri.
        • Visit to the Cerrano Tower: it was part of the Port of Atri, it is a true masterpiece to admire, now home to the Torre del Cerrano Marine Protected Area.
        • Visit to the Pineta Filiani: always in the Torre di Cerrano locality, unmissable and true symbol of the area.

        4 - San Salvo, Chieti

        The last village in Abruzzo, directly on the border with Molise, San Salvo, is located 100 meters away and a few kilometers from the coast. It has archaeological sites, necropolis, new industrial sites, fine architecture and certainly a crystalline sea to dive into, surrounded by really fine sand.

        • Recommended visit time: 2 days
        • Get directions
        • Hotel and b & b starting from € 41,00 per room -

        To do

        • Visit to the historical center: it is full of sites to visit, starting from the Quadrilatero Archaeological Park, which contains churches, aqueducts, suburbs, museums and abbeys.
        • Visit to the protected area: 60 hectares on the Lungomare Cristoforo Colombo, inside which all the environments of the sandy Middle Adriatic coast have been reconstructed.

        5 - Vasto, Chieti

        A truly fascinating country, with a history of 3.000 years, which brings with it testimonies of monuments, churches, fortifications and palaces concentrated in relative few kilometers that also manage to contain a magnificent coast made of sandy and degrading beaches and jagged and rocky points: all this is Vasto.

        • Recommended visit time: 3 days
        • Get directions
        • Hotel and b & b starting from € 34,00 per room -

        To do

        • Visit to places of interest: the ancient baths dating back to the st-nd century AD and the Roman Amphitheater.
        • Visit to Palazzo d'Avalos: with its magnificent gardens, it is the most brilliant example of the Abruzzese Renaissance style.
        • Panorama from the Amblingh Lodge: from here you have the best and most spectacular view of the gulf. A magnificent sight during the day and especially at night.

        Unknown places and places to see

        Abruzzo carries the name of Italy high in the world and attracts so many tourists from all over the world, competing more and more with the many noble and inflated places we are used to. But we also know for sure that a region like this contains many, many small and large treasures: here are the lesser known places to see in Abruzzo.

        1. Abbey of San Giovanni in Venere, Fossacesia (Chieti) - Get directions
        2. Roman City of Alba Fucens, Avezzano (L'Aquila) - Get directions
        3. Oratorio di S.Pellegrino, Bominaco (L'Aquila) - Get directions
        4. Church of San Pietro Ad Oratorium, Capestrano (L'Aquila) - Get directions
        5. Hermitage of Our Lady of Pietrabona, Castel di Ieri (L'Aquila) - Get directions
        6. Roccascalegna Castle, Roccascalegna (Chieti) - Get directions
        7. Monastero di S.Clemente, Casauria (Pescara) - Get directions
        8. Badia di S.Liberatore a Maiella, Serramonacesca (Pescara) - Get directions
        9. Lago di Barrea, Barrea (L'Aquila) - Get directions
        10. Val Fondillo, Opi (L'Aquila) - Get directions
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