Abruzzo Italy - Your Travel Guide to Southern Italy
Abruzzo in Italy was once famous for its witches and snake charmers, but now more known for its wild beauty, winter ski resorts, unspoilt coastlines and wildlife nature reserves.
This is an unspoilt area of Southern Italy that borders with Le Marche, Lazio, and the Adriatic Sea to the east. Mountainous and hilly Abruzzo is one of the least populated regions in Italy. However, it is home to one of the most stunning mountain ranges; the Gran Sasso that is spectacular when covered with snow and easily seen from the new highway that was recently built that opened up better communications to this area.
Investors who are looking to buy property in Abruzzo are often lured by low prices and seemingly incredible bargains. This is not an area you want to buy property in, and there is a reason for these cheap prices.
Abruzzo is a very active seismic zone and prone to earthquakes. L'Aquila is one of the 4 provinces that make up this area, and one cannot forget the devastating earthquake to the town of L'Aquila not so long ago.
However, travelers come here to experience a wild and remote Italy, untraveled, off the beaten track - a hidden part of Italy away from the hordes of foreign tourists.
And for those who take the time to explore this corner of Southern Italy they will be rewarded with sights of mountains and hills thickly covered with forests of chestnuts, beech and oak, pines and birch.
Castel Del Monte, Abruzzo
Picture taken by Brooke Nichols
The coast along the Mediterranean side is dotted with vineyards and olive groves.
There are many national parks in this area which are home to a few remaining bears, wolves, chamois, deer, martens, and wildcats, as well as many birds of prey.
Abruzzo has taken advantage of their mountains and good snow falls and in the winter there are more than 20 ski resorts operating in Southern Italy offering a cheaper skiing holiday than found in the more visited northern ski fields in the Alps.
In the spring these same mountains are carpeted with beautiful wildflowers and in the summer and autumn they are used by hikers to explore the area on foot.
For those travelers wanting to be part of ancient history still played out today, then visit Abruzzo. For years cut off from many parts of Italy due to the lack of roads and communications, the local people remained, by and large, untouched by modernity.
On many of the hills in the L'Aquila province stand nearly 100 castles watching silently, sentinels to times past. Ancient traditions are still practiced from the tradition of moving sheep from the mountains in the winter to lower, richer pastures of Agro Romana of Rome and the Tavoliere of Puglia. Ancient fishing contraptions called trabocchi are still used by the local fishermen of Venere. These are fishing platforms or huts on stilts from which huge nets are lowered in order to net fish from the surrounding sea.
Slow Travel Italy; Food and Wine in Abruzzo
Food here is rustic and simple, the red wine full-bodied and surprisingly good. One of my favorite Italian reds is Montepulciano Abruzzo - definitely worth a try and a lot cheaper than Brunello! For a good white wine from this region try the Trebbiano d' Abruzzo.
There are many traditional Italian dishes to try when visiting this region. If you like black pudding try the local equivalent; sanguinaccio which is a mixture of pig's blood and chocolate!
Being a coastal area you can get a good supply of fresh fish. Brodetto, a fish soup made here is often seen on the menus, along with scapece , fish placed in saffron vinegar, dusted with flour and then fried in oil.
Chickens, pigs, turkeys, goats and rabbits all find their way onto the menu. And you will undoubtedly come across chitarra a pasta dough that is made by pushing it through something that looks like guitar strings, hence the name.
We love scamorza, a local speciality made of curd cheese, served lightly grilled. Don't go home without trying the truffles, porcini mushrooms served in abundance, home-cured salsiccia and gnocchi, and centerbe, the local digestive liqueur made from 100 different mountain herbs.
Festivals in Abruzzo
For those of you who are interested in seeing a rather bizarre Italian festival, visit the mountain village of Cocullo , near Sulmona . Every year they have a religious festival which includes the use of live snakes. The festival is called the Procession of Snake Charmers (Processione dei Serpari) and has its origins in an older Pagan era.
The festival takes place in the first Thursday in May. This is the feast day of St. Dominic where a statue of the saint is draped with live snakes and paraded around the town. Devotees the follow, also draped with live snakes, completing the procession. Get there early. The festivities start at 10:00 a.m. and the procession starts at noon. There are other activities that take place after the procession into the early part of the afternoon.
Places to Visit in Abruzzo Sulmona is an interesting little town, famous for its wild garlic that has been used for years for it medicinal properties. Its other claim to fame is its confetti industry where it makes the sugared almonds always used to throw at the bride and groom at traditional Italian weddings. However, perhaps Sulmona is best known for being the birthplace of Ovid the Latin poet, considered to be one of the best poets of Classical Rome.
The main architectural attraction in Sulmona is the Palazzo dell' Annunziata on Corso Ovidio. Founded in 1320 the building consists of both Gothic and Renaissance styles and also houses the civic museum of interest.
In the main piazza; Piazza Garibaldi , a colouful market takes place on Wednesday and Sunday mornings which is a fun place to watch the locals and buy a couple of things yourself at good prices.
While you are in the piazza, don't miss the Fontana del Vecchio built during the Renaissance era as well as the medieval aqueduct that runs along the two sides of the piazza.
Sulmona is filled with ancient buildings and some of the best examples can be seen along the medieval Vial dell' Ospedale and the Vico dei Sardi .
Scanno , also in the province of L'Aquila is a well-preserved hill-top town of narrow flights of stairs, and alley ways, odd shaped courtyards often containing churches and a town where you can still see women sitting in open windows lace making.
During August Scanno hosts a classical music festival and in January the Fiesta di Sant'Antonio Abate is celebrated by the women in the town getting together to cook a large lasagna outdoors. This takes place outside the Santa Maria della Valle and the food is given to anyone who shows up, and is on a first come, first serve basis.
Skiing in Abruzzo
Not many people realize that you can ski in Abruzzo, but you can! Despite being in the south of Italy, the Abruzzo mountains gets more snow that the Alps some years.
The main ski area is Cinquemiglia a five-mile long, 1,200m-high plain that lies between the five historic towns of Pescocostanzo, Palena, Rivisondoli, Castel di Sangro and Roccaraso. The highest ski field is at 2, 000 meters and far cheaper than any ski fields in Northern Italy. In face, skiing in Abruzzo is 50% cheaper than skiing in the Alps .
Cinquemiglia has 100km of downhill pistes, 65 in total: 11 black, 27 red and 27 blue; plus two cable cars and 29 lifts. Although you could stay at the ski resorts the other towns are less than 20 km away and there is a ski bus that runs regularly from Roccaraso.
You won't find many foreigners here, because this is a secret the Italians keep to themselves! I am sure that you will not only appreciate this fact, but also because the crowds are skiing north and paying far more for the privilege!
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Through Booking.com you will find a number of Abruzzo hotels to choose from. In addition, there are also reviews of each hotel from independent travelers, which will give you peace of mind as you know that you will be booking a recommended hotel.
Travel Books on Abruzzo
Map of Abruzzo, Italy
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