Abruzzo is a fantastic region with much to offer to the discerning tourist. Its scenery is incredibly diverse, comprising high peaks to rival with the alpine regions and beautiful beaches, green hills and as quasi-desertic stretches that reached worldwide fame as the original settings of most “spaghetti western” movies. This region was severely hit by two major earthquakes in 2009 and 2016, but it is rising again thanks to the proverbial resilience of its residents. If you travel through central Italy, either while visiting Rome or on your way to a business event in the north, we recommend you stop by and explore the many wonders of Abruzzo, its beautiful natural landscapes, its history, and its ancient and fascinating traditions. We particularly recommend Abruzzo as a hiking destination. Check out our top 5 hikes for this year!
Hidden treasures: what makes Abruzzo so fascinating for international tourists?
1. Alba Fucens
If cultural hikes are your jam, you should visit the archaeological site of Alba Fucens. This gem of nature and history is located near Avezzano and it comprises the extraordinarily well-preserved remains of an ancient Roman colony dating back to the year 304 b.C. and discovered in the 50s. The whole city, enclosed in a perfectly preserved wall, can be visited independently or with guided tours. Explore all the areas in which the daily life of an Ancient Roman settlement took place, from the forum to the abattoir, from the famous baths to the inevitable amphitheatre. Once you have explored every nook and cranny of this ancient village, treat yourself to a hidden gem and hike your way to the nearby church of Santa Maria in Valle Porclaneta.
2. Rocca Calascio
This spectacular fortress is located 1464 metres above sea level, in the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park and it dates back to the X Century. You will reach it after a beautiful hike, along narrow – but not to steep – paths that wind through the rocks and the woodland. This spectacular castle, which looks like it was wished into existence by a fantasy writer’s imagination, featured in famous movies such as The Name of the Rose and Lady Hawke. Historically, the castle’s position made it easy to defend and granted the occupants a position of dominance, allowing them to survey the whole region from a vantage point. Immerse yourself in Abruzzo’s spectacular landscape and its history through the magic of Rocca Calascio,
3. Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park
If you visit Rocca Calascio, take some time to explore the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park. This is the third-largest national park in Italy and home to some protected species that can only be found here, such as the Apennine wolf and the Pyrenean chamois. In winter, you will be able to ski in the renowned Gran Sasso winter sports facilities, while adventure sports enthusiasts will find plenty of engaging activities in the Gran Sasso Adventure Park. The park extends from the main peak (Gran Sasso), which is particularly impressive in winter and autumn, when the beech tree forests turn bright red, to the Laga Range, which reaches the height of its beauty in spring when its numerous streams and waterfalls melt and shimmer through the trees.
4. Scanno Lake
Winter sports enthusiasts in Italy are familiar with Roccaraso, a popular skiing station in the mountains of Abruzzo. Hiking enthusiasts and birdwatchers, however, usually travel one our farther to get to the Scanno Lake: a beautiful natural spot located next to one of the quaintest and most beautiful villages in Italy. This heart-shaped lake was formed after a landslide, breaking off from Mount Genzana, blocked off the Sagittario Valley. As a result, a brand new ecosystem was created and is now a popular tourist destination. The nearby village, after which the lake is named, is famous for its bobbin lace tradition – one of the most ancient textile techniques in existence and still used by local artisans.
5. Stiffe Caves
Italy is famous for its unique karst formations, and the Stiffe Caves, near L’Aquila, are among the most impressive. They date back over 600.000 years ago and they offer a unique spectacle to those who dare venture through their 700 metres of mystery. An alien world, with statue-like formations and black lakes, stalactites standing like pillars and stalagmites hanging down like dragon teeth, rumbling rivers flowing in the dark and unexpected rays of light filtering down to illuminate a fantastic and unreal scenery. Make sure you wear something warm and water-resistant, even in the summer: the magic universe of the Stiffe Caves doesn’t abide by the normal seasonal rules of the upper world!