Nature parks and art towns… ski slopes and beaches… medieval churches, castles, and museums… there’s a whole universe to discover in Italy’s Abruzzo region.
Although its popularity has increased this past decade—among both tourists and foreign investors—Abruzzo remains one of Italy’s cheapest regions to buy a house.
Following are some more of the region’s top draws…
1. Well connected. Coaches and trains are comfortable and punctual. Crossing the Apennines on a bus to Rome is a particularly scenic ride. Naples and Florence are also on a regular timetable. Really, it’s possible to explore the whole of Italy from Abruzzo. And, from the airport in Pescara, you’ll find daily and weekly low-cost flights to major European cities.
2. A unique and varied landscape. From the Adriatic coast to the Apennines… from natural parks to rolling hills scattered with hamlets… take your pick. Bear in mind that the mountains tend to have snow in winter and cool summers. On the coast, winters are mild and summers hot. It’s always a pleasure to take a slow drive along the region’s narrow country roads surrounded by olive trees, fig trees, lemon and orange trees, cherry trees, and vineyards. Picking fruit from the trees to taste is not considered an insult and farmers will be happy to welcome you.
3. Uncrowded beaches. With golden sands, pebble beaches, and the placid Adriatic (in shades of green or turquoise), the coast of Abruzzo is anything but monotonous. On tourist beaches you can rent umbrellas and deck-chairs and enjoy entertainment in the form of beach volleyball, live music, dance or sport lessons. You’ll also find solitary wild beaches where it’s possible to spend a laid-back day walking the dog or reading a book.
4. Warm water. The water temperature of the Adriatic reaches a high of 80 degrees during summer. It’s possible to swim from the end of April to the beginning of October. Abruzzo offers one of the highest densities of Blue Flag beaches in Italy.
5. Hill towns to rival Tuscany and Umbria. Abruzzo boasts 20 of the most beautiful medieval and renaissance villages in Italy—second only to Umbria which has 22. The abrupt decline of Abruzzo’s agricultural economy in the early to mid-20th century saved some of the region’s most beautiful hill towns from the onslaught of modern development.
6. Ski the Apennines. Roccaraso, one of the best skiing resorts, sits 2,140 meters above sea level. Despite its altitude, you can drive back down to the Adriatic shore in 90 minutes. You’ll also find excellent ski slopes in Ovindoli and Passo Lanciano. And, Abruzzo is home to Calderone—Europe’s most southern glacier.
7. Green living. Abruzzo has been called “the greenest region in Europe”—one third of its territory is set aside as national parks and protected nature reserves. Popular activities include walking, trekking, bird-watching, canoeing, and horse riding. The natural parks and protected reserves ensure the survival of 75% of Europe’s living species—including rare creatures like the wading dotterel, golden eagle, Abruzzo chamois, Apennine wolf, and the Marsican brown bear.
8. Unbeatable seafood… and food in general. The Trabocchi Coast covers some 230 square kilometers, from the border with Ortona in the north down to the mouth of the Sinello in the south. Trabocchi are original fishermen stilt huts where it’s possible to dine on freshly caught fish cooked in a simple, traditional way. Perfect for a romantic, unforgettable evening, dinner at a trabocco, eating fresh fish and drinking excellent local wine, costs 35 euros (US$41) per person.
Everywhere in Abruzzo, it’s possible to taste traditionally made cheeses, cold meats, handmade pasta, bread, pizza cooked in wood ovens, and freshly made ice cream. Don’t miss the traditional sagre (local fairs)—not only a wonderful way to meet new people and get a better insight into life here, but you’ll be invited to taste whatever local products are in season. Fresh artichokes, cold meats, salami (look out for the renowned spicy ventricina), and the local specialty, brodetto di pesce—fish cooked in fresh tomatoes and peppers to be eaten with freshly baked bread… all accompanied by good, cheap local wine.
Over the past few years, Abruzzo has been paying greater attention to organic food—not just vegetables and fruit but also organic wines, olive oils, and pasta and bread made from locally produced flour.
9. World-class wine. Well-known Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is exported all over the world. White wines of the region are also respectable. A bottle of wine can cost from 1 euro (US$1.15) up to 15 euros (US$17) for a DOC wine. A glass of wine at a wine bar—served with finger food and appetizers—costs 4 euros (US$4.65).
Snowcapped mountains… rolling hills with medieval villages, vineyards, and olive groves… delicious local Italian food and wine… peaceful beaches lapped by warm water… Abruzzo is all of this and much more.
Now, come and experience this green heart of Italy for yourself…
Monia di Guilmi