Abruzzo, Italy travel guide: places to visit in Abruzzo
With a varied landscape Abruzzo is known for its seaside resorts, its mountain scenery and its ski resorts - with the great advantage that the sea and the mountains are never far apart so it is easily possible to combine both during your visit.
Abruzzo - a travel guide and places to visit
For a summary of the most popular sights in the region see also Abruzzo places to visit.
The Abruzzo region runs along the Adriatic coast of western central Italy.
Much of the inland (western) part of the Abruzzo region is a wilderness, and includes a part of the Apennine mountains to the north, and extensive plains and forests to the south, with a scattering of attractive towns and villages. Most visitors will know this area from visiting its ski-resorts but the area has a lot of charm both in summer and winter.
To the east of Abruzzo the area also has popular beaches and coastline on the Adriatic Sea. For almost 100 miles Abruzzo follows the Adriatic, where well established resorts attract large numbers of families from across Italy and elsewhere in Europe. Apart from the long beaches in the major destinations there are also long stretches of quieter coast where you might find a smaller beach where you are almost alone.
Western Abruzzo - Inland with beautiful mountain scenery
The region away from the coast is defined by its mountains, and it is one of the most mountainous regions in Italy, culminating with the Corno Grande mountain at almost 3000 metres high.
Many visitors to Abruzzo's interior come for the skiing and popular ski resorts in Abruzzo include those at Campofelice, Campo Imperatore, Ovindoli, Rivisondoli, Pescocostanzo, Prati di Tivo, Roccaraso, Scanno and Tagliacozzo.
The mountains of Abruzzo also contains numerous attractive villages, often huddled around an ancient church, and several other interesting towns, castles and other historic monuments.
In the north in particular Abruzzo has a particularly impressive mountain backdrop, perhaps nowhere more so than the region around the town of L'Aquila. L'Aquila, the capital of Abruzzo is in the Gran Sasso mountains and has a long tradition of being one of the most historically interesting centres in Abruzzo, although the historic center suffered a great deal of damage during an earthquake in 2009, which also killed several hundred people.
The northern village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio is a fascinating village which has recently being restored to its 'Medici-era' glory. There are two dramatic castles near to Santo Stefano di Sessanio - Castel del Monte and Rocca Calascio. Both are well worth a visit. Nearby Navelli will charm you with its lovely golden houses and, in the autumn, its fields of saffron-yielding crocuses.
Further south is a cluster of villages which count amongst the most beautiful villages of Italy. Pacentro, Anversa degli Abruzzi, Scanno and Opi all have this distinction. As a bonus they are all situated in beautiful mountain settings. Pacentro also has a 14th century castle which is currently being renovated. Nearby is the lovely town of Sulmona which has many palazzos and piazzas to admire as well as a large aquaduct. Another highlight is the dramatic village and castle of Roccascalegna (photo above) which is near the border with Molise.
There are parts of three different Italian National Parks within Abruzzo's borders - the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park, the Mount Majella National Park and the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park - as well as the Sirente Velino Regional park and several Nature Reserves. Together these cover more than a third of the territory and as a result you are never far the chance to enjoy the protected environment of mountains and forests, lakes and rivers, and an abundance of wildlife.
Eastern Abruzzo and the coastline
Eastern Abruzzo has some beautiful beaches with, in general, the longer, sandier beaches being on the northern part of the Abruzzo coast.
Among the most visited of the Abruzzo sea resorts are Alba Adriatica, Costa dei Trabocchi, Francavilla al Mare, Giulianova, Martinsicuro, Montesilvano, Ortona, Pineto, Roseto degli Abruzzi, San Salvo, Silvi Marina, Tortoreto and Vasto and several of them have been awarded the prestigious 'blue flag' award for cleanliness and facilities. Ortona as well as being a coastal resort is home to a large Argonese castle. The main town on the coast is at Pescara, which also has about 10 kilometres of sandy beaches.
As well as its resorts there are some lovely hill towns and villages. Civitella del Tronto is a magnificent village and home to the largest fortress in Italy. Further south, Teramo boasts a Romanesque cathedral and a Roman ampitheatre.
Atri is a pretty hill village fairly close to the coast and further south, also occupying a hilltop location is Lanciano with its medieval cathedral to the south. Lanciano is an important tourist destination as it is the site of the Eucharist miracle where bread and wine were apparently seen to turn into flesh and blood. Between the two Crecchio is home to an impressive castle which contains an Etruscan and Byzantine museum.
Abruzzo is famous for its olive oil and Loreto-Aprutino is part of the 'golden-triangle' of olive oil along with Moscufo and Pianella.
A highlight of Abruzzo is the hill top city of Chieti is one of the oldest cities in Italy and is home to many fine Palazzos and churches. Another highlight is the dramatic village and castle of Roccascalegna which is in the south of the region near the border with Molise.
Abruzzo photo gallery
Tourist Awards in Abruzzo
Most Beautiful Villages
The following Italian towns and villages in Abruzzo are listed among the 'most beautiful villages in Italy': Anversa degli Abruzzi, Bugnara, Castel del Monte, Castelli, Città Sant'Angelo, Civitella del Tronto, Guardiagrele, Introdacqua, Navelli, Opi, Pacentro, Pescocostanzo, Pettorano sul Gizio, Pietracamela, Rocca San Giovanni, Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Scanno, Tagliacozzo, Villalago
Orange Flag Tourism towns in Abruzzo
The following Italian towns and villages in Abruzzo are listed among the 'Orange flag towns in Italy'(a national tourist award): Palena, Roccascalegna