Abruzzo is one of those mesmerizing Italian regions that has not (still) been hit by the mass-tourism radar. If you enjoy pristine landscapes, ancient villages, dramatic castles and artistic heritage, Abruzzo is the perfect destination for you. In fact, the region has succeeded at preserving its historic natural and man-made landscapes and many of the local original features. Let’s explore this Italian wonder a little bit better!
Nature is a safeguarded resource in Abruzzo: protected parks cover one-third of its territory, making it Europe’s largest nature area and the green heart of the Mediterranean. But what makes this region particularly special is the measured balance between the nature-dominated landscape and the stratified human presence with an astonishing 300.000 years of uninterrupted inhabitation!
Since prehistoric times, ancient peoples have identified ideal food and shelter conditions in Abruzzo: its complex mountain ranges were difficult to penetrate and offered great protection; the peaks and the coast provided a varied seasonal climate; the territory featured numerous watercourses, great forests with abundant fauna, and fertile plains.
A surprising way to explore this paradisiac setting is to walk through a sensorial path: blindfolded, you will experience the textures, smells and sounds of nature like never before! Remove the blindfold but also your shoes… and rediscover forgotten sensations by walking on the wooded parkland and noticing all the details that you never “see”: pine needles, a fallen branch, colored wood chips, paw prints…
Abruzzo is also the perfect location for eco-friendly sports throughout the year. During winter, you can enjoy classic mountaineering, free climbing, ski touring for different levels of expertise. During the other seasons, the choice is mind blowing: cycling, mountain biking, horse riding, paragliding, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, sport fishing, waterskiing, underwater photography, diving… you name it!
Ancient Villages & Castles
Wherever you travel in Abruzzo, you will notice a small village or a majestic castle watching over you, perched somewhere on the rocks. The territory is telling you its own history through the natural and man-made landscapes that you see: once the Roman Empire fell, the centuries of “Pax Romana” (peace) were replaced by a long period of instability, causing countless castles and enclosed citadels to be (re)built.
Almost all of Abruzzo’s inland settlements were built at least as early as the Middle Ages, but many of them are even older and date back to the Italic-Roman period. Brick and stone houses, tiny lanes, solid wood doors, worn-down steps, archways and smoke-blackened ceilings are the features that typically characterize the villages.
The village names often suggest what was behind their ancient origins; for example, a town name starting with Castro refers to a fortified settlement, Villa to a farming village, Civita to a township, Scerne to a rice paddy… The same goes for the castles, whose names refer either to the defensive nature or the location of the settlement: Rocca (fortress), Castel (castle), Penna (foothill), Pizzo (peak), Colle (hill).
Visiting an ancient village in Abruzzo is like traveling in a world suspended in time, cadenced by the ticking of the tower clock. The pace of life and friendliness of the locals allow you to rediscover forgotten pleasures throughout the seasons: in winter, you can appreciate the aroma of logs burning in the fireplace; during spring, you can admire the flower-laden balconies; in summer, you can chat with the old folk in the piazza next to the refreshing fountain; in fall, you will be bewitched by the color palette of nature. And, do we need to mention that your journey is accompanied by traditional dishes made with seasonal local produce? Mouthwatering!
Arts & Heritage
Abruzzo’s long history has left countless artistic treasures: monuments, churches, buildings and archaeological sites, as well as paintings, statues, jewelry and all sorts of art crafts.
To showcase its heritage, the region has created and promoted an amazing network of thematic museums, for example: the Museum of Sacred Art (Celano), the Museum of Pottery (Castelli), the Civic Museums (Sulmona, Penne, Lanciano, Vasto), the famous Museo Nazionale d’Abruzzo (L’Aquila), even a number of modern art galleries and archaeological museums – led by the Museo Archeologico Nazionale d’Abruzzo.
If these all sound like “standard” themes for museums, Abruzzo also offers surprising ethnographic museums that will surprise you. The most interesting is the Museo delle Genti d’Abruzzo, dedicated to the region’s peoples and the socio-economic and cultural history (image above). The town of Picciano hosts the Museum of Traditions and of Farmers’ Art, for you to discover the tools and trades of the local rural civilization. Other gems are the Wool Museum in Scanno and the Museum of Artisan Traditions in Tossicia.
Artisanal crafts can be explored directly in the botteghe, or artisan workshops – a unique and authentic way for you to learn about this magic world by chatting directly with the master artisans themselves! The artisans of Abruzzo create original and beautiful objects in pottery, iron, wood, stone, copper, precious metals, leather, textiles and yarns. You can “get your hands dirty” and join them in the production of your favorite items: touch and discover unknown materials, listen to the sound of tools and rustic machines at work, understand the dedication and passion passed down from generation to generation.
Recommended Special Occasion in Abruzzo: Green Meetings
Thanks to its diversity and versatility, Abruzzo is really a fantastic location for any special occasion. With the beautiful, inspiring natural and historic setting that Abruzzo provides, we particularly recommend it for an authentic green meeting.
Such an eco-friendly event will fit it perfectly with the environmental and social sustainability approach promoted locally. Furthermore, the never-ending basket of activities and attractions to be explored with the senses will boost the creativity and inspiration of the company employees or clients partaking in this sensorial journey!