Abruzzo, this soft and rocky name at the same time wonderfully depicts this mountainous massif of central Italy. From Gran Sasso to the Adriatic, five natural parks make it one of the best preserved areas in Europe. The mountains with snow-capped peaks in summer radiate over 2 m, over hilltop villages that evoke Corsica. A small paradise for lovers of nature, peace and hiking
The four provinces of Abruzzo - Teramo, Pescara, Aquila, Chieti - are protected by five natural parks, who share this mountain range of Apennines, between Lazio and Adriatic:
- Gran Sasso National Park (2 m) and the Laga Mountains north of Aquila, established in 912.
- Velino-Sirente regional park (2 m) south of Aquila, established in 496.
- Majella national park (2 m) in the center near Sulmona, established in 795.
- Abruzzo national park (2 m) to the south. Its name is often mistakenly confused with the Abruzzo massif itself. Created in 285, it is one of the first European national parks.
- Chieti Coast National Park, on the Adriatic coast, established in 2007.
So many different altitudes and landscapes that unfold on the winding roads of a sparsely populated region, which seems timeless.
If the highest peaks of Italy culminate here, Abruzzo flattens out in groves on the Adriatic coast towards the east, between the Steps and Molise.
Surrounded by long white sandy beaches frequented in summer, a few charming ports remain, such as Ortona et extensive.
Only the evocative poems of Gabriele d'Annunzio (1863-1938), native of Pescara, whose father was mayor, bring back to life the glorious past of this great port, rebuilt after the bombings of the last war (News from Pescara, 1902).
Despite the harsh living conditions, repeated earthquakes around the capital Aquila and a former emigration, the country has recovered. Tourism, agriculture and industry make its economy superior to that of southern Italy.
- Abruzzo, little frequented, remain relatively poorly equipped for tourism off the coast. Mountain hotels only open in June in summer. The guest rooms are of uneven quality and the relative comfort at the inhabitant.
Preferably radiate around a well-chosen stopover from where you will not hesitate to explore the valleys and the rare high-altitude roads, because the high mountains are often only entered on foot.
It is therefore necessary to study its course. This is the price to pay for magnificent landscapes, an authentic serenity and the smiling welcome of an Italian region which is not like the others.
The kitchen, whose flagship remains spaghetti with chitarra, claims its pastoral origins. Lamb is eaten here ultra grilled. The different cheeses of cow, goat and sheep (pecorino) sweeten the meal with a montepulciano of Abruzzo, preferably white, a trebbiano or a villamagna.
Almond and nougat cookies compete in flavors in pastries. The moscatello sweet wine or the centerbe liqueur (from the mountain of course!), Guarantee digestion. On the coast, the inexhaustible fish of the Adriatic in fritto-misto is a change from the mountain meal.
The Gran Sasso tour
Avoiding the basin ofEagle slowly recovering from the damage of the 2009 earthquake, continue north. The pyramid of Gran Sasso, "great rock" in Italian, emerges from the lake of Camporosto.
From the S 80, join Prato di Tivo (photo), at the north foot of Corno Piccolo (2 m). Only the roofs of a few large hotels color the immense meadow where mountain plants multiply in profusion. The Franchetti refuge (665 m, 2 hour 443 from the cable car) invites you to climb. The site is impressive, but alas at a dead end!
After a detour by castles and its majolica, cross the Laga Mountains to find the extraordinary route of Campo Imperatore, southern slope of Sasso. 20 km through a breathtaking area of beauty nicknamed "il piccolo Tibet", where Mussolini was placed under house arrest in 1943.
The southern descent is via the feudal castle of Castel del Monte, then that of Rocca Calascio with four powerful cylindrical towers on a rocky peak. The network of paths testifies to the transhumance between Abruzzo and Puglia.
Further south, the Romanesque village of Castelvecchio Calvisio, shaking on its props, does not fail to move.
Sulmona and its surroundings
City crossroads between several valleys, Sulmona, the city of Ovid, is also the capital of confetti. This candy, similar to sugared almonds, is highly sought after during festivals in Italy.
Colorful, they are made with almonds, hazelnuts, chocolate and other flavors. It's very cheerful, hard to eat, at all prices, and can be kept for years ...
The main street of this pleasant stopover leads by San Panfilo Cathedral (8-18th c.) And the Santa Annunziata cultural complex the fountain (15C) and the medieval aqueduct which surrounds Place Garibaldi. It is good to have a drink there near the gallery, during the morning market.
North exit of the city, the celestial abbey of Sancto Spirito in Badia Morronese (13-18C) is worth a visit for its church and its wonderfully restored Baroque rooms. The nearby hermitage of San Onofrio has a cave.
From Sulmona, radiate eastward and Majella mountains crossed by the S 487, going up towards the three towers of the medieval village of Pacento. A superb panorama leads by Camarico Terme at the Church of Saint-Thomas and its remarkable Romanesque facade, at the foot of the Majella mountains.
Abruzzo is also ...
80 bears, 200 wolves, 10 lynxes, eagles and vultures, hundreds of varieties of mountain flora, mushrooms in abundance ... a life as a shepherd would not be enough to know all the corners of Abruzzo.
Rest assured, the bears are hiding in the impenetrable woods of the Velino-Sirente and the great white shepherd dog of Abruzzo, cousin of our Pyrenees, guards the herds!
The Bear Visitors Center at Villavallelonga in the Abruzzo park, collects wild animals injured in the mountains, before releasing them, and offers in-depth documentation, maps and topographical guides, on the hikes.
The village of castles, north slope of the park of Grand Sasso, is known for its richly decorated majolica faience that once rivaled the best productions of Faenza and Urbino.
Among many archaeological museums, the giant warrior of Capestrano awaits you at Chieti, as well as the Roman amphitheater which served as a model for the Colosseum, Alba Fucens.
Abruzzo Tourist Office
Italian National Tourist Office
. International planes: Rome, Pescara.
. Motorways: A 24 and A 25 from Rome. A 14 along the Adriatic coast.
. Trains: Rome line: Rome-Sulmona-Pescara. Parks train: Sulmona-Carpinone. Spire of the Great Sasso: Rome-Aquila. Sangro valley train. Italian TGV Pendolini along the Adriatic coast
. Boats: Pescara for Split (Croatia), Ortona for the Tremiti Islands (Apulia).
Where to sleep, where to eat?
. Route from Aquila to Teramo S 80, in Nerito di Crognaleto: La Rochetta inn-restaurant, open all year except Monday. Friendly in a desert of accommodation.
. Sulmona: Armando's Hotel. Comfortable and peaceful in a garden, not far from the historic center. Clemente Restaurant. 5 Vico Quercia. Il Canestro 13 via Dorrucci.
. Pacentro: Majella 146 via Santa Maria Maggiore.
. Camarico Terme: Hotel Cercone.
. Pescara: Cala di Ponente fish restaurant, 65 Viale Primo Vere
. Ortona: B and B Licia. Reasonable prices, rooms overlooking the garden. Il Gambero fish restaurants, Il Vecchio Teatro…, each better than the last.
. Pescocostanzo: Hotel Archi del Sole.
Find your accommodation in Abruzzo
To have :
. Abruzzo Museums: Pescara, Salmuna. www.gentidabruzzo.it
. Pelino Confetti Museum (free): Sulmona. www.pelino.it
. Museum of the birthplace of G. d'Annunzio: Pescara
. Archaeological Museums: Aquila, Penne, Teramo, Alba Fucens, Sulmona Chieti. www.archeoabruzzo.beniculturali.it
. Diocesan museums: Ortona (San Giovanni in Venere abbey), Guardiagrele, Lanciano. www.muvi.org
. Majolica Museum of Castelli: Loreto Aprutino, Pescara. www.muvi.org
. Bear Visitors Center: Villavallelonga. Hiking (doc). www.sherpa.abruzzo.it