Abruzzo is one of the twenty regions of Italy and located, centrally, half way up the ‘boot-shaped’ peninsular of Italy. Approximately 70 miles to the east of Rome it shares borders with Lazio, Umbria, Marche and the little known region of Molise. At its eastern border lies the Adriatic Sea. The historic city of L’Aquila is the regional capital of Abruzzo.
Abruzzo is further divided into four separate provinces, these are: L’Aquila, Teramo, Chieti and Pescara (the provinces take their names from the towns that serve as their capitals, such as the capital of the Teramo province is the town of Teramo). These four provinces are further divided into 305 communes (or municipalities).
Given that the Apennine mountain range cuts through the heart of this region, it is no surprise that nearly two-thirds of the region is mountainous, and is home to the tallest peak of the Italian peninsula - the Corno Grande at 2912m.
The restless internal forces that have shaped the landscape, remain restless to this day and the region has suffered a number of major earthquakes over its history. The most recent major quake (or Terremoto in Italian) hit the regional capital of Aquila in 2009.
Abruzzo's rugged and dramatic landscape also makes it a magnet for skiing, climbing and hiking enthusiasts. Sprinkled among the breath-taking hills and mountains are dozens of medieval castles, ancient villages and monasteries.
Abruzzo is rich in national and regional parks; these protected areas are the natural habitat of many rare flora and fauna including the chamois antelopes, Apennine wolf and Marsican bear.
The major parks are:
- Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della
- Parco Naturale Regionale Sirente-Velino (Sirente Velino Regional Park)
- Parco Nationale d’Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise (The Abuzzo National Park
- also Lazio and Molise) and Parco Nazionale della Majella.
Abruzzo is reached by air directly into Pescara (from Stansted, UK via Ryanair ) on the Adriatic coast, or by either of the two Rome airports (Ciampino and Fiumicino) from a variety of starting points in Europe and the States.
Once in Abruzzo, the most convenient way to explore is by car, this ensures that you access all areas including the beautiful mountain villages. The A25/A24 autostrada (toll road) that cuts through the heart of Abruzzo is modern, kept in good repair and is generally very light on traffic. The country and mountain roads, however, vary in quality, especially on the high peaks, so watch out for potholes.
If a car isn’t an option then there are regular trains from Rome and Pescara into the heart of Abruzzo.
Several bus networks also traverse the region, but make sure you check locally when these arrive/leave. Tickets are usually purchased at one of the nearby 'tabacchi' ( tobacco shops, but generally where you would buy bus tickets, top up your mobile phone, etc. so very handy even if you don’t smoke – usually easy to spot as they have a large white ‘T’ on a sign outside). After buying a ticket, you will generally have to validate (time stamp) it in the machine inside the bus.
If, however, you do happen to get lost, the people of Abruzzo, who are invariably friendly and gracious, are sure to help you along your way.