ABRUZZO

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Nestled between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea, Abruzzo is a southern-central region in Italy. Once part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, Abruzzo has a rich history dating back to Neolithic times, and in recent decades has ascended to be one of the wealthiest regions in Italy.

Abruzzo is an all-year region that can be enjoyed even during the winter months. From basking in the hot sun of Mediterranean summers, or skiing the Apennine Mountains in the mild winters, this place has an all season appeal that is sure to offer something for everyone.

As a region that boasts both awe-inspiring mountainous peaks, to white sandy beaches, Abruzzo has a wide variety of offerings to any vacationer. Natural parks, beachside cliffs, ancient hill-towns that rival Tuscany and Umbria, and rolling hills that obscure art filled towns, are what Abruzzo has to offer.

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Rocca Calascio.

TOURS AND ACTIVITIES

Skiing: Looking for some winter excitement? Abruzzo is a place that will not disappoint. Typically getting more snow, and rivaling the Alpine resorts, Abruzzo boasts the highest peaks of the Apennines with four resorts, most notably: Roccaraso, followed by Rivisondoli, Pescasseroli and Campo Imperatore. Each resort offers skiing, snowboarding, and snow rafting. Additionally, Abruzzo is known for its cross-country tracks that transverse the astonishing scenery on the high plain of Campo Imperatore in the Gran Sasso, as well as the Piana Grande in the Majella.

Hiking and Mountain Biking: Looking to have a commune with nature? Abruzzo offers many opportunities. Known for its flora and fauna, mountain biking and trekking routes are in abundance. Blaze the trails of Sagittario Gorge, Zompo lo Schioppo Falls, or Lakes Penne and Serranello.

Horseback riding: Looking to escape on a seemingly boundless route on horseback? Abruzzo’s trails offer countless possibilities for excursions, and hundreds of miles of trails amongst some of the most awe-inspiring views in the world, like the National Park of Gran Sasso, and the Laga Mountains.

Mountain Climbing: From Gran Sasso to Sirente, mountaineering and climbing are the raison d’etre everywhere, and the views are mind blowing.

shutterstock_37326907_Gran Sasso

PLACES TO SEE

Beaches: Rated for having some of the best beaches in Italy, Abruzzo offers plenty of sand and sun for everyone. Priding itself on having 80 miles of beaches with plenty of resorts, make sure to visit the mid-coast Silvi Marina, one of the top rated beaches in Italy, Francavilla al Mare and Pieneto, and on the northern coast, Alba Adriatica and Martinsicuro. Though, take notice of the sea’s conditions as there are few lifeguards on these beaches, and the water can deepen very quickly.

Abruzzo National Park: Part of the all-season charm that Abruzzo has to offer, explore the natural wonders of Abruzzo National Park year round. It is advisable, however, to avoid holiday periods, when the Park is usually crowded: spring and the beginning of summer are preferable, when nature reawakens with its blossoming and birdsong; or autumn, when the forests are blanketed in rich warm colors.

L’Aquila: One of Italy’s hill-towns, L’Aquila sits upon a hillside in the middle of a narrow valley with tall snow-capped mountains of the Gran Sasso massif flanking the town. Seven years ago the city suffered one of the most terrible earthquake in the last century. People today are still trying to rebuild the city as well as their lives. Similar to Pisa, L’Aquila is a lively college town and, thanks to that the city wants to be lively again like it was in the past.

Civitella del Tronto: Located on top of a hill some 1,900 feet above sea level, the small village of Civitella del Tronto is one of the most interesting in the whole region, because of the architectonic beauties enclosed by its ancient walls. Dating back as far as the Neolithic and Upper Paleolithic era, this city is known to be the largest fortress in Italy, and the second largest in Europe. It is fully open to visitors, who can enjoy its imposing squares, bastions and communication trenches.

Civitella is also rich in other architectural treasures, such as the several medieval and Renaissance buildings in the main streets, Via Mazzini and Via Roma, St. Francesco and St. Lorenzo churches, and the Franciscan monastery Santa Maria dei Lumi, which includes a Romanesque portico and a polychrome wooden statue of the Madonna dei Lumi from the 15th-century.

FOOD SPECIALTIES OF ABRUZZO

Dishes in the Abruzzo region are often filled with Lamb as a result of past migration habits of sheep during the winter months. Such dishes include:

Abbacchio: Abbacchio is the lamb chop of the east. Usually cut into chunks and roasted, this savory dish can be an addition to many meals.

Castrato: Castrated lamb, also known as mutton is often prepared like a stew with tomatoes, wine, herbs, onions, and celery, while the innards are typically roasted in the oven.

Agnello a cutturo: A lamb cooked in an aromatic herby casserole served with bread.

Zafferano di Navelli: Saffron, the most expensive spice, is grown through the Abruzzo region. It adds yellow coloring to any dish, and is often described to have tastes of the sea with a hint of sweetness, while other says it has hints of honey. It is often times added to rice, but the best way to truly describe what saffron tastes like is to try it for yourself.

Arrosticini: Does sitting on a terrace overlooking a beautiful sunset while grilling very simple, just-add-salt lamb kebabs sounds like an ultimate vacation experience? This dish is a true taste of summer, and should be enjoyed by all who visit the region.

Maccheroni alla chitarra: The most famous dish of Abruzzo, Maccheroni all chitarra is made by pressing a sheet of pasta over a wooden frame wired like a chitarra (guitar), and is usually served with a tomato or lamb meat sauce.

SPECIAL EVENTS

August is a wonderful month visit the Abruzzo region. Not only is the warmth of the sun at its peak, but there are plenty of events to keep you entertained in between seeing the sights.

A la Corte de lo Governatore: Are you a history buff with a passion for watching re-enactments? Well, this is the event for you. Check out the A la Corte de lo Govenatore, a historical re-enactment of a medieval banquet in costume inside the fortress Civitella del Tronto. This event takes place in August.

Festival of arrosticini: Music, wine, and food, what other combination is better? Taking place in August, this festival incorporates lamb kebabs, music, and dancing into one glorious event.

Festival of ceci and zafferano: This two day festival attracts roughly 6,000 people to an otherwise quiet village, Navelli to celebrate the spice of Abruzzo, Saffron, and chickpeas, a typical accompaniment in Abruzzo dishes. On the last day of the festival, watch the locals race their way to the finish line on the back on their trusted stead… the donkey.

Trout festival and Cronoscalata: And it’s off to the races. Watch professionals and amateurs race cars through the plains of Popoli to the top of a mountainous winding path. This event takes place in August.

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