Reasons to Visit the Abruzzo Region
Tuscany. Chances are you’ve heard of this particular bit of Italy. Filled with cities like Florence and gorgeous landscapes, it’s a part of Italy that is well known, and well visited.
The Beautiful Villages
Abruzzo is a mountainous region, which means that arable farming land is precious and hard to come by. This has resulted in the majority of the towns and villages being built on the tops of hills and mountains, with the rich valley soil given over to farming.
These hill top villages were also far more defensible in times of war, and many of them are fortified. For the visitor, they are wondrous mazes of tiny streets and cobblestone alleys, a jigsaw puzzle just waiting for you to put together.
You’ll never get too lost as they’re so small, and every now and again you’ll emerge from the medieval walls to a gorgeous view of the surrounding landscape. Top tip: don’t miss Castel Del Monte, rated one of Italy’s most beautiful villages.
The Stunning Landscapes
The Abruzzo region has fantastic landscapes, happily rivalling anything you’ll find in Tuscany or indeed, elsewhere in Italy. A third of its territory is given over to national parks, and it has everything from gorgeous coastline and beaches through to the towering mountains of the Abruzzi Appennines, which are nearly 10,000 ft in height.
Between coastline and mountain you’ll find wildlife, forests, open valleys, waterfalls and more – something for everyone really. And if landscapes aren’t your thing, then there are more than enough pretty villages, towns and cities for you to explore, including L’Aquila, a beautiful little city that was badly damaged by an earthquake in 2009, and which would love for you to visit and say hi.
The food. Of course.
Obviously the Abruzzo region isn’t alone in Italy when it comes to spectacular food, but just so you know, the food here is just as good as any you’ll find throughout Italy.
Local specialities include an egg-based pasta dough, “maccheroni alla chitarra”, as well as spicy sausage and polenta. The food is often spicy, with chillies being a mainstay of many dishes.
Up in the mountains, sheep and goat are popular meats, coated in home grown olive oil, rosemary and garlic (hungry yet?) whereas on the coast you’ll be wanting to fill up on fish, with the fish soups being a particular highlight.
Whilst many of the villages are indeed castle-like in their construction, the Abruzzo region is also home to some impressive actual castles.
My favourite of these is Rocca Calascio, a 10th century building that sits at nearly 5,000ft above sea level, and was voted by National Geographic as one of the top 15 castles to visit in the world. That level of elevation naturally offers sweeping views in all directions, both along the valleys and of the surrounding mountains.Rocca Calascio isn’t the only castle in this part of the world though. Abruzzo is home to some fine examples for the castle buff, with particular note to be given to the Aragonese castle of Ortona, Piccolomini Castle of Celano and Caldora Castle of Pacentro.
And that briefly sums up the Abruzzo region! I hope it has persuaded you to add it to your list along with some of Italy’s other more well-known regions – if you do, you definitely won’t be disappointed!