Gran Sasso in Abruzzo

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From its rugged, mountainous national parks to its less touristy Adriatic beaches, Abruzzo is, as noted by writer Giorgio Manganelli, “a great producer of silence.”

Abruzzo is considered the greenest region in Europe owing to the fact that it is made up largely of parks and nature reserves, including three national parks. Approximately half of Abruzzo is parkland.

Abruzzo Map

Abruzzo is bordered by three other regions: Le Marche, Lazio, and Molise. It is divided into four provinces: L’Aquila, Teramo, Pescara, and Chieti.

Much of Abruzzo is largely hilly to mountainous. Its capital, L’Aquila, rests in the foothills below the Gran Sasso mountain chain, the highest peaks in the Apennine range.

But Abruzzo also has a long coast along the Adriatic Sea that stretches for 82 miles/133 km. The provinces of Teramo, Pescara, and Chieti all boast perfectly nice beaches that are far less touristy than those in other parts of the country. San Benedetto del Tronto, Pescara, Giulianova, and Vasto are just a few of Abruzzo’s popular seaside resort towns.

Abruzzo or Abruzzi?

Until 1963, the region now known as Abruzzo was part of a territory known as the Abruzzi and Molise. The terminology dates from the time when the area was part of the Kingdom of Sicily — a heritage that also groups Abruzzo with the Italian south or Mezzogiorno despite its central location.

Many people, particularly Italians who moved away from Italy during the 1960s and before, still refer to the area as Abruzzi. But Abruzzo is the proper name for the region.

Top Things to Do in Abruzzo

  • Visit Abruzzo’s national parks for hiking and fishing in summer and skiing and sledding in winter. They include the Abruzzo, Lazio, and Molise National Park, Gran Sasso and Lago Mountains National Park, and the Majella National Park.
  • See L’Aquila, Abruzzo’s capital and the region’s second-largest city. L’Aquila sits in the shadow of mountains and abounds with beautiful churches (many still undergoing repairs following the April 2009 earthquake).
  • Enjoy Abruzzo’s Adriatic beaches. Pescara, Abruzzo’s largest city, is a seaside resort with many sandy beaches. Other options include Vasto and Giulianova.
  • Eat hearty Abruzzese cuisine. If your travel base is Rome, Abruzzo is an easy day trip. Rustic Abruzzese restaurants in towns near the border with Lazio (i.e., driving distance from Rome) are popular places for long Sunday lunches.

Top Tours in Abruzzo

Where to Stay in Abruzzo

Agriturismo Casolare di Nonno Mario. Near Parco Majella and the mountains. Staying at this farmhouse really feels like staying at one’s grandparents’ house. The sweet owners sent us away with jams and wine!

B&B Palazzo La Loggia. In Barisciano. This very lovely hotel – a renovated stone palazzo – is located in an unassuming town not far from L’Aquila, ski resorts, and Santo Stefano di Sessanio. The owners are gracious, the breakfast bountiful, and the rooms big, clean, warm, and comfortable. A perfect base for exploring the best of Abruzzo.

Hotel Cristallo. Right across from the beach in Giulianova, this is a basic and clean hotel. They have a nice stabilimento (beach service with chairs and umbrellas) with a lively beach bar. Giulianova is a lovely beach town.

Photos of Abruzzo

Below are photos I have taken while visiting the region:

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