Central Italy’s best-kept secret, Abruzzo, is seeping with authenticity and old-world charm. Just two hours outside of Rome, and largely unknown to international travelers, this crown jewel of Italy is filled with nostalgic Italian villages that have remained preserved throughout time and offers visitors everything that they are looking for in an authentic Italian experience.
The region’s cuisine, landscape, heritage, and wines depict one of the last old-world destinations in Italy. Abruzzo’s remarkable variety of flavors and aromas, reaped from the produce of its uncontaminated mountainous areas, offer a diverse cuisine that appeals to the most discriminating taste buds.
Destination Abruzzo in Central Italy
This stunning destination welcomes travelers with rich, wild landscapes filled with olive grove draped hillsides, rolling acres of vineyards, the vast white sandy beaches of the Adriatic Coast, and awe-inspiring peaks of the Apennine Mountains. Prepare to uncover these breathtaking landscapes of some of the most charming and idyllic villages of Abruzzo, Italy, where nature converges with a rich history, ancient traditions, and unparalleled flavors.
Central Italy is where Abruzzo is located, making it the perfect home base to explore other regions of this picturesque country. The region of Abruzzo has a medieval atmosphere and covers a vast area with plenty to see and do. You can explore medieval villages perched atop rocky cliffs, drive through the pristine countryside filled with vineyards and olive groves, or enjoy the stunning Adriatic Sea. The top of Abruzzo is dominated by the jagged peaks of the Apennines, which are perfect for hiking or skiing, while its coastline offers miles of beautiful beaches and seaside villages to visit. Travelers will always find what to do in Abruzzo no matter how many days they spend exploring this wonderful region.
Wander through the narrow alleyways of one of Abruzzo’s most beautiful hilltop towns. With an expansive view of the Adriatic Sea, the town brims with medieval architectural wonders that date back to 15th century Italy.
Take in the views where the crystal blue waterways of the Adriatic meet warm golden beaches with a backdrop of medieval structures, art, and cultural centers, and even a palace. Visit the Palazzo d’Avalos palace, which houses a quartet of museums including the Museo Civico Archaeologica. After looking at ancient bronzes and glasswork as well as 19th-century art, make sure to immerse yourself in the beauty of the nearby Neapolitan-style garden.
Descend on the charming town of Sulmona located at the foot of the majestic Majella National Park. This lovely village is one of the most famous of Abruzzo’s villages, made popular for its sugary coated almonds, commonly known as “confetti.” The quaint streets bustle with vendors who boast vibrant bouquets and artfully sweet arrangements available in a wide array of succulent flavors. Learn all about the traditions of throwing confetti at weddings that were born here. Despite a devastating earthquake that hit the historic village in 1706, you’ll find medieval architecture and a spirit throughout the village that has stood the test of time.
Piazza Garibaldi in Sulmona
Visit Abruzzi’s capital of vibrant ceramics known as “majolica,” which were collected by the elite of Europe for hundreds of years. Select some magnificent pottery and bring part of nostalgic Italy back home. Sealed with clear colored glazes, brightly colored hand-painted adornments, and a signature color palette, these works of art are certain to get your attention. Travelers can even take a cultural tour of the area and learn how to make their very own “Majolica” masterpiece.
Enter into the pages of a fairy tale when you arrive in the scenic, magical hill town of Scanno. Take a canoe adventure through Scanno lake, which formed when a landslide from the mountainside blocked the natural course of the river than ran through it. This enchanting medieval town is known for its magnificent crystal blue lake and its precarious alleyways, baroque architecture, and its costumed inhabitants. Take home a special memento of an intricately laced pattern embroidered on pillows made within the village borders.
Lago di Scanno, Abruzzo, Italy
Sneak into the tiny village of Villalago and discover the sacred, small church, The Hermitage of San Domenico. Unlock access from the outside, stroll past the altar and climb a few steps and discover the hidden sanctuary. Find your zen and connect with the world at this peaceful spot surrounded by serene views of the bluest waters and the pure beauty of nature.
Take a trip back in time to the 16th century with an excursion to the medieval village of Roccascalegna. Seemingly frozen in time, this medieval castle stands elevated on a gravity-defying ledge of limestone. This is only one of the more than fifty awe-inspiring castles that will amaze you on your journey through Abruzzo.
Castello di Roccascalegna
Civitella del Tronto
Travel to the site of the largest Italian military fortress and experience the wildly breathtaking panoramic views that peer over three majestic mountain ranges, a charming village, and the vast blue reachings of the Adriatic Sea. Explore the architecture and venture down the hillside and stroll through the streets and winding alleyways of the beautiful village that it oversees.
Fara San Martino
Discover pasta in Italy’s kingdom of pasta, Fara San Martino! Look no further for extraordinary pasta and Italian cuisine. This producer of the highest quality pasta brands prides itself on its distinctive flavors and ancient pasta-making techniques. Gaze at the wide, beautiful valley of the Verde River, whose waters combine with other special ingredients to make the world-famous pasta. Enjoy your dinner with wine from the region.
Explore the village’s stunning Canyon of St. Spirito. Once inside, stretch your arms out and touch two distinct mountains as you hike to the 13th-century Monastery of St. Martino in Valle along beautiful terrain.
Santo Stefano di Sessanio
The mountain village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio is one of the most charming in all of Abruzzo. This medieval village, located in the province of L’Aquila at 1250 meters above sea level, is within the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga national park. The village has been abandoned for many years, but recent restoration efforts have brought new life to the town. There are now several restored buildings, including a hotel and vacation homes. The village hosts a festival each year in September celebrating its delicious lentils. If you’re looking for a charming and off-the-beaten-path village to visit in Italy, Santo Stefano di Sessanio is a great choice.
The Climate in Abruzzo – What is the best time to visit?
The climate in Abruzzo is largely Mediterranean, which means that summers are very hot and winters are mild. Spring and autumn are the most popular times to visit an Italian village in this region because the temperatures are comfortable enough for long walks along the beach, checking out a hiking trail through the mountains, or enjoying some Italian dishes or lunch with wine outside. The average high temperature in July is around 86 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average low in January is around 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Although it does not rain as much as other regions in Italy, October and November can be very wet months.
There is no perfect time to visit Abruzzo because every season offers something different and beautiful to see and do. Travelers who want to enjoy the best of what the region has to offer should plan their vacation during either spring or fall when there are mild temperatures and less crowds. Summer is an ideal time for those who want to be surrounded by the warm sea and sunshine of Italy’s coasts.
Accommodations in Abruzzo
There are plenty of unique accommodations in this central Italian region. You can stay in beach hotels, farmhouses, cute villas, or even a 17th-century castle.
Abruzzo offers a wide range of accommodations to fit any budget and preference. Whether you want to enjoy a luxurious stay in the Italian countryside, or live like a local and spend their nights tucked away in an agriturismo (Italian for “farm”), you can find it all in Abruzzo. With so many options available, it can be difficult to choose where to stay in Abruzzo, but no matter what travelers decide, they’re sure to have an amazing and unique experience.
Finding the best places to stay in Abruzzo is easy with this form because you can sort through hundreds of properties and choose the ideal one for your needs and budget.
Getting Around in Abruzzo, Italy
One of the best ways to get around Abruzzo is by car. The roads are winding and the scenery is gorgeous, so it’s the perfect place to take a leisurely drive. If you’re not comfortable driving in Italy, there are also plenty of buses and trains that will take you around the region.
If you’re looking for a more adventurous way to travel, Abruzzo is a great place to go hiking or mountain biking. There are trails for all levels of hikers, and the views from the top of the mountains are absolutely incredible.
Books about Abruzzo
If you’re looking for a deeper understanding of Abruzzo, its history, and its culture, there are several books that we can recommend.
Counting Castles in Abruzzo: A Journey Through the Land of Enchantment is an excellent resource that covers everything from the region’s history, art, and architecture to its food and wine.
Walking in Abruzzo is a must-have guidebook for trekking in Abruzzo, especially in the Maiella and Gran Sasso national parks as well as Sirente-Velino regional park.
Italy Abruzzo (Bradt Travel Guide) is the best English-language guidebook to this beautiful and increasingly favored part of Italy. It covers all of the major destinations in Abruzzo, from the bustling city of L’Aquila to the stunning medieval villages in the National Park of Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga. The guidebook also includes information on where to eat, what to see and do, access details for how to get around the region, as well as background on Abruzzo’s biodiversity, culture, history, traditions, cuisine, literature, and landscape.
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