With its rugged beauty and breathtaking panoramas, the Central Italian region of Abruzzo is a magical place that offers the chance to enjoy steep mountains, rolling hills and stunning beaches, all within short driving distances from one another. From the white peaks of its summits to the blue hues of the Adriatic sea, this area is a wonderland for those who like to explore and discover places that are off the beaten path: a car is the ideal way to get to know the region, and a road trip through Abruzzo can be the vacation of a lifetime.
ROCCA CALASCIO. A stunning medieval fortification, Rocca Calascio is perched on a summit at 1464 meters above sea level (about 4500 feet) and offers unforgettable and unparalleled views of the region. Surrounded by the beautiful nature of the Gran Sasso National Park, it can be reached by taking a picturesque path that climbs up the hill to the peak, where time seems to stand still: no wonder this place was chose as the set for the classic movie The Name of the Rose!
CASTELLO DELLA MO-NICA. Absolutely unique under every aspect, the Castello della Monica is easily the most recognizable and bizarre building in the city of Teramo. Built to be the personal residence of local artist Gennaro della Monica, an architect and sculptor that lived between the 19th and 20th centuries, it presents a very peculiar style, similar to that of Gaudì in Barcelona and is now being refurbished to be brought back to its old splendor.
STIFFE CAVES. This amazing caves, in the province of L’Aquila, are about 600,000 years old and are a wonderful place for those who like to live adventurously during their vacation: impressive stalactites and stalagmites are surrounded by pitch black underwater lakes and creeks that give the caves an out-of-this-world look. Just remember to dress accordingly, as the temperature can be as low as 40°C degrees.
CASTELLO ARAGONESE. If you like spectacular views, don’t miss out on the chance to enjoy those that can be seen from the Castello Aragonese in Ortona, province of Chieti. Built in 1492, this impressive fort has been refurbished in 2001 and offers some incredible panoramas of the Adriatic Sea. History buffs can also enjoy a free visit to the Castello, while those who prefer nature will definitely be charmed by the lush gardens in and around the fort.
LAGO DI SCANNO. Tall, green mountains reflected in the blue waters of the lake and a picture perfect village make the area of Scanno a wonderful place to spend a day. Wander through the narrow alleys of Scanno, browse the many stores selling gold jewelry and crochet artifacts and try the “pan dell’orso”, a traditional local sweet bread: this little gem of a village is all about relaxing, while taking in the views of the lake and the wild nature that surrounds it.
ALTOPIANO DELLE ROCCHE. It doesn’t matter if you visit the Altopiano delle Rocche in the summer or in the winter, this region, located between the summits of Mount Sirente and Mount Velino are a sports enthusiast paradise. In the summer hikers and mountain bikers enjoy the amazing green lushness of the altopiano, while in the winter the area is known for good skiing and snow walking. Year round, visitors can enjoy great local cuisine such as homemade spaghetti alla chitarra with mushrooms and sausage – a real mountain delight!
COSTA DEI TRABOCCHI. A scenic stretch of coast in the province of Chieti, the Costa dei Trabocchi has beautiful sea views, long pebbled beaches and crystal clear waters. The “trabocchi” are the unusual and quite unique stilt houses that are typical of the area, most of which are used as fishing shacks by local fishermen; some have been turned into small restaurants, absolutely ideal for a romantic dinner with a view and to savor some great seafood dishes.
ALBA FUCENS. An impressive archeological site, Alba Fucens is an ancient Roman city at the bottom of Mount Velino and an absolute must-see for those who enjoy history and ruins. The city is almost perfectly preserved and, to this day, visitors can admire the walls, the market square, the thermal baths and the amphitheater. The site becomes even more suggestive as the sun goes down and the sunset colors the stones and the surrounding mountains of hues of orange and pink.