Lying quietly in the heart of Italy, Abruzzo is a paradise for people seeking a bit of calm and quietness. Mountainous heaven overlooking the Adriatic Sea, the region is one of the greenest in Europe. Up until now, those calm-seeking people have been few and far between. And primarily the Europeans, who descended upon the hilltop villages during the snow season. The area also provided some respite in between the trip towards Tuscany, Rome and Venice for others.
With little to no crowds to deal with, an excellent culinary tradition that changes from the mountains to the beach, an airport that offers easy access from major European and UK cities, there is no reason not to visit Abruzzo in your next available opportunity. From the history buffs to the shoppers and food lovers, the region has something for everyone. To that point, we discuss the ten best things to do if and when you visit Abruzzo below.
1- Start by Taking a Trip to Vasto
Many people consider Vasto to be the best town in Abruzzo. Then again, it’s a matter of perspective. Nevertheless, the ancient hilltop town overlooking the Adriatic Sea makes up for a perfect spot to begin your trip. It’s like a miniature version of Abruzzo, with the sea and mountains creating a divine atmosphere for the medieval buildings. The town is also known for many hidden gems like Beaches, Punta Aderci Nature Reserve and Loggia Amblingh promenade. Also, make sure to check out the lighthouse of Punta Penna – the second tallest in Italy. The seafood dishes are quite a treat, but more on that later.
2-Explore the National Parks
One of the most interesting activities would be living a unique experience such as discovering the national parks walking or by e-bike.
Abruzzo is actually one of the greenest regions in Europe with over 30% of the area protected.
So don’t miss the opportunity to visit the three national parks of the region, like Majella National Park that is one of the best preserved apennine ecosystems, made of nearly 100 square miles of immaculate mountains and canyons to enjoy.
3- Get Lost in the Trabocchi Coast
Not so far away from Vasto lies a 70km-long stretch of coastline. It is known as the Trabocchi coast, an ode to the area’s traditional use of Trabocchi. You see, Trabocchi is a fishing-net structure used traditionally by the fishermen living in the surrounding fishing villages. Although most of the nets are not in use anymore, the area still offers a close look into the rural lifestyle. You can also taste some authentic seafood made with fresh produce.
You can enjoy this experience also by bike, as there is a new bike path through which you can discover the entire coast of Trabocchi and admire the panorama of this wonderful landscape.
4- Taste the Taste of Abruzzi Cuisines
As promised, Vasto offers some of the most traditional Abruzzi cuisines. Blessed with both the farmlands and the coasts, you will get to taste both Brodetto stew and Arrosticini in its restaurants. Brodetto is a popular dish all along the coastline of Abruzzo, which gives the traditional fish stew a local twist. You have to taste it to know the difference. The Arrosticini, on the other hand, is very famous in the Abruzzo mainland. It is a delicious recipe for the thin mutton skewer, and the locals love to consume it in hundreds of pieces. The region has a 200-years history of making handmade pasta, too.
5- Take a Hike to the Gran Sasso d’Italia
Nicknamed as the garden of Italy, Abruzzo has some lush green mountains to take a hike. The top peak is the Gran Sasso d’Italia, some 2912-meters above sea level which is The highest peak of the Appnennines. There are some steep, wild roads along the way, but the effort certainly pays off with many stunning views across the region.
6- Sip in Some Thirst-quenching Drinks
While in Abruzzo, you can get thirsty after climbing up and down its mountainous roads and treks. There is nothing to worry about, though, as you can always quench it by taking a sip from limoncello or ratafia. The former is a lemon-flavoured alcoholic beverage, while the latter is an Monte-infused drink made with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine, alcohol, and dark cherries. You can always open a bottle of red Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine, famous for using a distinct Montepulciano grape.
7- Explore the Quint Town of Sulmona
While Vasto will fulfil your thirst for visiting an ancient Abruzzi town, it’s time to mix things up by travelling to its other quaint town Sulmona. The village is nestled amidst the Peligna Valley and was the birthplace of the famous Roman poet Ovid. It is also the birthplace of sugar-coated almonds, so don’t forget to munch in some of that.
8- Unleash the Adventurous You
The versatile landscape of the Abruzzo region offers many opportunities to get doses of adrenaline rush. You can go rural and indigenous by trying water rafting and horse trekking. You can also explore rural teen life by surfing kites on the coasts.
9- Ski Your Heart Out
If you need a ski fix but don’t want a crowd, the 386km-long ski slopes across Abruzzo would be the perfect getaway in the winter. The most attractive slopes here are in Roccaraso and Pescasseroli, and they are not known to most skiers outside Italy.
10- Shop for Some Deals
It is a must to conclude this experience with the purchase of one of the representative elements of Abruzzo’s heritage.
Among the typical products available you can choose wines such as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Pecorino or Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, sugared almonds, EVO oil, cold cuts such as ventricina, cheeses such as pecorino di Farindola or caciocavallo, that you can buy directly from producers or in the village markets, such as the one on Saturday in Vasto.
In addition to this you can also buy various handicrafts such as tombolo, presentosa or ceramics of Castelli.
Thanks to the recent shift in travellers’ mood, who now prefers lesser-known destinations more than ever, Abruzzo is on the verge of an international travel boom. More and more people are planning to travel to this relatively undiscovered region if they are not already travelling there. It has everything to offer, and you can make the most of it by booking an organized tour under the guidance of experienced locals. That way, you could focus on enjoying the experience and leave the worries to the professionals. To get more information about organized tours, please visit www.italiasweetitalia.com.