If you’re a repeat visitor to Italy and are looking for something less touristy and more ‘off-the-beaten-track for your next trip, Abruzzo might just be the slice of authentic and traditional Italian life you’re looking for.
Abruzzo boasts dramatically changing landscapes-from ancient mountains and wild forests to pristine beaches-and a rich cultural tradition that has lingered even as other places have given way to modernity. For example, the women of the hillside town of Scanno (who are considered by many as the most beautiful in Italy) continue to favour traditional garb over modern clothes. That’s not to say that Abruzzo is backward and desolate though-in fact it’s just the opposite! You’ll find plenty of luxury Italian vacation accommodation in the local beachside villas to serve as a base for the exploration of this fascinating province, or you could head to the mountains to enjoy the natural wonders in one of its three national parks, which collectively cover 3,350 square kilometres of wilderness. If peace and quiet is what you seek, some smaller towns even offer religious retreats.
Below, we list three of the most popular attractions in Abruzzo.
Parco Nazionale della Majella
Of the three national parks in Abruzzo, Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise, is the oldest and in fact the largest in Italy. However, with more than two million visitors each year, it may not exactly fit the ‘less-touristy’ bill. Much smaller and located at a higher altitude (more than half the park is over 2,000 in elevation), Majella offers fewer crowds and over 500 kilometres of hiking and cycling trails, giving visitors the opportunity to spot Marsican brown bears, chamois, Apennine wolves, and, very rarely, lynx.
For the best view of the stunning surrounding woodlands, you can hike up Monte Amaro, which at 2,793 metres is the second-highest peak in the Apennines. There is plenty of Italian vacation accommodation around the Majella area, with the bonus that you’re just minutes away from the beaches once you’re ready for a bit more sun.
If you love the nostalgia and beauty of hillside villages, Scanno will no doubt take your breath away. The sturdy stone houses make great Italian vacation accommodation, and even better photographic fodder-as evidenced by the many photographers who have immortalised the scenes in magazines and travel books. The traditionalism of the town goes beyond the architecture and is echoed in the locals’ way of dress and life. Women here continue to wear traditional garb-black, wide-sleeved, woollen dresses and their hair in plaits tucked behind a fez.
If you want a lazy day on the beach, Abruzzo has plenty to choose from, with 22 Blue Flag Beaches. The largest city, Pescara, seems to be the default destination, perhaps due to its airport and the large seaside resorts. If you’re looking for something quieter but with equally enticing beaches and luxurious Italian vacation accommodation options, Ortona, a lovely nearby market town, may be an interesting choice as well.