ABRUZZO - THE HIDDEN GEM OF ITALY:
Point of Interest in Abruzzo
The first time I went to Italy was in 2014, from there, I made my way up north until I reached Venice. Without any doubt, these two cities in Italy are both very rich in culture. Rome offers such remarkable history while Venice will serenade you with its beauty. All these amazing features of these two cities bring so many tourists in one place resulting in a very crowded place. I did have a great time, however, the massive crowd set me off.
Until in the summer of 2018, I was invited to go to Abruzzo, a region in Italy just two hours east of Rome. Without any expectations in my head, I was very curious about what it has to offer.
Abruzzo has four provinces; L'Aquila, Teramo, Pescara, and Chieti. Abruzzo has a lot of things that almost no one is aware of, from points of interest, Italian food with a touch of their own style, the wine that will make you drink up the bottle as it taste so good – I am really surprised how come a lot of tourists in Italy didn't know about this hidden gem.
In this article, I will discuss not only why this place is perfect for your road tripping, food tripping, the hunt for the best wine. I will also show you where to go, places that are must no miss, how to get here, and of course where to stay.
HOW TO GET TO ABRUZZO ITALY
There are cheap flights directly to Pescara with Ryanair. You can also fly to Rome, from here you have these options:
- Bus: 3.5 hours from Rome, buses can be found right at the airport. I highly recommend Flixbus
- Train: you can also take a four-hour train with Italia Rail
- Hire a car: which I highly recommend, this will give you so much convenience especially when you start exploring Abruzzo. The drive is about 2-hours with amazing scenery along the way. You can take road A24 then change to E80.
- Fly: Ryanair fly directly to Abruzzo region; Pescara province to be exact
WHERE TO STAY
Like I mentioned above, the best is to head to Pescara, one of the cities in Abruzzo. Pescara will not far from everything you want to see in the region. Also, it's a very young and lively beach city with so much to offer and more budget-friendly than the other major destinations in Italy.
POINTS OF INTEREST: Where to go and what to do in Abruzzo
Abruzzo is definitely for every type of traveller. There are so many things to do for all ages; family travellers, solo tourists, couple travellers, and whatever kind of activity you are looking for, Abruzzo will have your back. I will give you some ideas, and in my upcoming posts about Abruzzo, you will get to know more about different places to see, food to try, wine to taste, and so much more in a more detailed way.
Water Activities in Abruzzo
If you are into water activities just like me, Abruzzo can cover that too with their 140 kms coastline. If you head to Pescara, you can enjoy the Adriatic sea which is facing directly Croatia. From the classic chill on the beach or some more active outdoor things to do, there are plenty to choose from, here are the few things you can do:
- Canoeing – head to Bussi where you can do canoeing in the nature park reserved located in Tirino. The town called Bussi Sul Tirino is a good place to start for this activity. I highly recommend the experienced tour company II Bosso
- Rafting – rafting fans can also enjoy this activity at Marina di Pescara. You can explore the adventurous path of between Mount Campli, or Mount Fiori or Mount Aventino which is the eastern slope of Majella
- Swimming – get your swimsuit on, sunscreen and enjoy the beach side of Pescara; one the liveliest cities in Abruzzo
Castles in Abruzzo
A visit to Abruzzo is not complete without a visit to any castle, this region is also full of historical event whereas these castles carry them.
- Chiola Castle/Castello Chiola – the fun and well-location castle. Located at the hill of Loreto Aprutino, Chiola castle also now functions as a hotel and restaurant. If it's been your dream to sleep and dine in a castle, this is the place for you.
- Medieval Castle of Roccascalegna – it's definitely one of my favourite castles in Abruzzo. With a stunning view of Majella mountain, it will take you to another world. Inside the castle, you will find great information about its history and its town.
Other Outdoor Activities to Do in Abruzzo
Like what I mentioned before, Abruzzo is definitely an underrated holiday destination. The following outdoor activities are also possible to enjoy throughout the region:
- Horseback Riding and Horse Trekking – there are plenty of options to choose for this action; from beginner's level to advance that can last for hours
- Hiking and Camping – the best places to do these activities are in the national parks and the mountains. The top places are Mount Majella and Fara San Martino where you can also see wild animals that can only be found here in entire Europe.
- Mountain Climbing – Abruzzi is the only peninsular region (the Alps included), where you can enjoy a classic mountain climbing. Head to Gran Sasso for abundant options of walls to climb.
- Windsurfing – with a 130-kilometre coastline, Abruzzo is a great place for this exciting activity. You can also head to the other Abruzzi lakes especially Lake Campotosto.
- Paragliding & Hang-gliding – although there are limited options to choose from for take-off and landing, if you will head to the west slope of Monte Morrone (Sulmona Aq), north-eastern slope of Tocco da Casauria (Pescara), Villa Santa Lucia (L'Aquila), and other areas around L'Aquila, you will be able to enjoy this activity.
Skiing- There are about 16 winter downhill skiing resorts in the entire Abruzzo, which offers all levels and all types of skiing. The most popular ones are Roccaraso and Campo Felice.
CHURCHES AND HISTORICAL PLACES
- Spoltore and San Panfilo Fuori Le Mura
- Moscufo: Santa Maria Del Abbey
- San Clemente a Casauria Abbey
FOOD AND WINE OF ABRUZZO
It's not Italy if there is no wine and great food, is it? Abruzzo can live up or even go beyond your expectation for Italian food and wine. Have a set, let the locals suggest what are the best food to try and wine to taste, they can never go wrong.
Wines to Taste
The wine industry of Abruzzo is massive, it's one of their producing products. The classic style of Italian can be found here where you literally can drink glasses to glasses without any bitter aftertaste – which gives you the opportunity to enjoy it well. Chieti, another city in Abruzzo makes up 65% of their product from wine.
Check out the top wine that I tried and enjoyed:
- Duchi di Castelluccio - Cerasuolo D'Abruzzo
- Divus – Montepulciano D'Abruzzo (Ciavolich)
- Colle Moro – Trebbiano D'Abruzzo
- Duchi di Castelluccio – Centacri' Biologico
- Granaro – Trebbiano D'Abruzzo (Chiarieri)
- Birrificio Agricolo e Agripub Golden Rose (Ariib Arrib'A)
Food to Try
- Cheese – Abruzzo is well-known for their cheese production and it's also one of the main product they sell throughout Italy and abroad
- Salami/Ham – If you love tapas just like me, Abruzzo offer
- Olives – Abruzzo is also rocking the production of olives which mostly ends up as olive oil but if you visit farms and shops, you can get the best olives, you will most likely to bring some home
FACTORIES TO VISIT
Abruzzo is not only just a place to explore, the big companies that Italy is very proud of are also located in this region. You can come to visit their farm/factory and buy (best deals) their products:
- Delverde – this is a pasta factory where no pasta will be wasted. If the pasta didn't make it up to the standard, these rejected ones will be sold to companies who make pet/animal food; location is in Fara San Martino where you can also visit a natural reserve.
- Chiarieri – a farm and factory where they make not only wine but also jams and olive oil - which of course I remembered to buy and enjoyed at home!
- Rustichella d'Abruzzo – this one has my heart because they also make bio-organic products, they are located in Pianella
I can honestly make an endless list. Ipersonally think Abruzzo will be an amazing holiday destination for any type of person. I will definitely swap my Rome or Venice trip to a more relaxing but exciting place like Abruzzo - definitely one the best places to visit in Europe if you have a limited time.
If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I'd be happy to assist or answer.
DISCLAIMER: I would like to send my huge thank you to the Regional Tourism Board and Chamber of Commerce of Abrruzo. This trip and discovery of such hidden gem would not have been possible without your help.