Submitted by admin on 6 Sep 2012
Abruzzo is arguably one of the regions of Italy least known to foreign visitors. In spite of lying just one hour driving time to the east of Rome, the area is unspoilt and tranquil, home to stunning Apennine peaks, silent valleys and ancient villages. It is a walker's paradise and offers some of the most breathtaking scenery in all of Italy.
The region of Abruzzo is unusual for having three National Parks. The first is called the Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga and is one of Italy's largest. It is home to the highest peak in the Apennines, the Corno Grande, as well as to wolves, chamois and royal eagles. The area is beautiful, jagged and rocky.
The second is the Parco Nazionale della Majella, home to the second highest Apennine peak which is Monte Amaro. In the heart of this national park lies an unexpected Baroque masterpiece - the little town of Pescocostanzo. Almost unchanged in over 500 years the town played an important part on the "Via degli Abruzzi" - a main trading route in Medieval times connecting Naples with Florence. At an elevation of 1400 metres the historic town has wide views across the open green plains and mystical forests.
The third park, known as the Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise is the oldest of the three. Here you can still find a small number of Marsican brown bears, along with a vast number of bird species. This park's main town is Pescasseroli, wonderfully level and easy to navigate given its elevation of 1167 metres.
While these mountainous areas are not suitable for cultivating vines, the land towards the Abruzzo coast is famous for its red Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wines and its white Trebbiano d'Abruzzo. The high quality durum wheat which grows in the area means a thriving pasta industry, and the region has abundant vegetables and pulses. Lamb is perhaps the best loved local meat, often prepared in the traditional way in a copper pan in the open air, with basil, onion, sage and chilli. Sheep and goat milk cheeses are another staple of the region. L'Aquila, Abruzzo's capital, is famous across Italy for its high quality saffron.
Our brand new tour for 2013 runs from 22nd - 30th May and takes in all three of these parks over a 9 day hiking holiday staying in three very different hotels. The tour starts and ends in Rome, so it would be easy to combine a few days contrasting the bustle of the Eternal City with the haunting beauty of this remote wilderness.
Photos show the Gran Sasso National Park, the village of Santo Stefano in Sessanio, the small town of Opi, the Baroque centre of Pescocostanzo, a local herd and the town of Pescasseroli seed from it ruined castle.