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10 must-see places in the Abruzzo

With its capital L'Aquila, Abruzzo rises between the Adriatic Sea and the central Apennines. Called the 'green region', because of its abundant nature, it is a region that will make you fall in love! Let’s discover the amazing region of Abruzzo!

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10 must-see places in the Abruzzo

Abruzzo is home to real gems! With a splendid nature, the region is in the heart of Italy and offers us several interesting attractions: from a natural point of view and from a historical and cultural point of view. Today I will tell you which are the 10 must-see places in Abruzzo. Here at  Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patricia  you make the trip of your dreams !!! ALSO: see our  “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”.

Enjoy this video with a brief view of Abruzzo.

Our introduction

Abruzzo is an Italian region located east of Rome, between the Adriatic and the Apennines. The region is predominantly surrounded by parks and nature reserves and for this reason is called the ‘green region’.

Abruzzo is also home to medieval and Renaissance villages and its capital is L’Aquila, which is a charming city surrounded by old walls. L’Aquila gained worldwide fame due to the violent earthquake that destroyed the city in 2009, but it already shines as brilliantly as before the disaster. The region’s coast is also impressive and its beaches are magnificent!

A little history

The region has been inhabited since prehistoric times and several peoples such as the Sabini, Marsi, Marruccini, Frentani and Sanniti passed in the territory. It became a target of Rome with the Second Samnite War, in 326 BC, and during the imperial period the region stood out for its great economic development, which came from grazing sheep. The industrial and commercial area also gained strength, and took the attention of several peoples full of ambition such as Lombards, Franks, Normans and Aragonese.

Abruzzo went through significant changes in its politics and in its commerce, which started decadence in the entire regional area. Over time, Abruzzo has gone through several crises, battles, migratory cycles and two world wars. Its splendor returned in full force in the second half of the 20th century and, since then, Abruzzo has remained firm, strong, and beautiful!

But, after all: what are the 10 must-see places in Abruzzo? Let’s find out now!

Note:

  • The list is not in order from ‘best to not so good’; it’s just a reference.

1) 10 must-see places in the Abruzzo: ROCCA CALASCIO (Calascio, province of L’Aquila)

It is impossible not to start the list with one of the postcards of the Abruzzo: Rocca Calascio. The region’s symbol is on a rocky spur in the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park. There you will find the magnificent Castle of Rocca Calascio, which is a construction that seems to ignore the passage of time. It was built entirely in white stone, which dominates the Tirino Valley and the Navelli plateau, and is located at an altitude of 1,500 meters. This castle is one of the tallest in all of Italy and is truly a must see. The castle is listed by National Geographic as one of the 15 most spectacular castles in the world. I don’t even need to say that the view from there is unique, right?! No wonder it was the scene of famous films and, among them, we can mention Lady Hawke and the Name of the Rose. Also read: Ten castles to visit in Italy

Fun fact

  • There is an old legend related to the Baron Corvo de Corvis, a member of the family that owned the castle in the 1600s. The legend says that the Baron used a rule called “Ius Primae Noctis” which, basically, consisted into force all women in the city to spend their wedding night with the Baron, not with their husbands. This absurd practice was changed by a young woman who, upon marrying and accepting the Baron’s proposal, she simply stabbed him to death and, upon leaving the room, “stamped” her bloodied hand on a rock in the tower.

2) 10 must-see places in the Abruzzo: SANTO STEFANO DI SESSANIO (province of L’Aquila)

In the Gran Sasso National Park, which is even close to Rocca Calascio, you will find the beautiful village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio. This place is an architectural gem and enchants its visitors. The design of a large part of the city is by Daniele Kihlgren, a young Swedish entrepreneur who acquired part of the abandoned houses in the historic center and organized them into a hotel harmoniously integrated into the medieval aesthetics of the village. The best way to explore the place is walking! So: put on comfortable shoes and be sure to see Porta and Piazza Medicea, Casa del Capitano and Palazzo delle Logge. If you feel like it, head to the beautiful church of Madonna del Lago.

3) 10 must-see places in the Abruzzo: LAKE SCANNO (Villalago / Scanno, province of L’Aquila)

Some people see this lake in the shape of a heart, but the fact is: Lake Scanno is one of the most mythical and romantic in all of Italy. There are several legends about its origin and formation, and today it is another postcard of Abruzzo. Located within the Sagittarius Valley, Lake Scanno is surrounded by impressive nature! It is a super quiet place and ideal for those who want to escape the big tourist centers. Once there, be sure to visit the historic center of Scanno. The craft shops are full of charming and unique pieces.

4) 10 must-see places in the Abruzzo: STIFFE CAVES (San Demetrio ne ‘Vestini, L’aquila)

One of the most different and beautiful places in the entire region is the group of caves in Stiffe. In the municipality of San Demetrio ne ‘Vestini, these caves present us a unique splendor! The caves are located in the Sirente-Velino Regional Natural Park and are ideal for those who enjoy nature and quieter destinations. The place is vast and has several caves full of beauty. The visit can only be done with a guide and you can enter three rooms of the main caves: Silence Room, Waterfall Room and Concrete Room. In addition to the caves, you can observe the Canyons, the beautiful lakes, the waterfalls and the various stalactites and stalagmites – which sometimes have very different shapes.

5) 10 must-see places in the Abruzzo: ROSETO DEGLI ABRUZZI (province of Teramo)

We cannot talk about Abruzzo without mentioning the incredible Adriatic coast. One of the most beautiful maritime locations in the region is Roseto degli Abruzzi. Despite being a “new” city, it emerged in 1860, the city has several roses planted throughout the territory, hence the name. In Roseto you can spend a very pleasant, peaceful day by the sea.

6) 10 must-see places in the Abruzzo: HERMITAGE OF SAN BARTOLOMEO IN LEGIO(Roccamorice, province of Pescara)

The countryside of the Abruzzo region is another beautiful territory! There you will find the different Eremo di San Bartolomeo in Legio (Hermitage of San Bartolomeo) which is literally inside a rock. The rock is 50 meters high and stands at a height of 700 meters above sea level, in other words: the view from there is exceptional! To get there you can use the stairs carved into the rock itself and enjoy an incredible rocky balcony. The Eremo di San Bartolomeo in Legio is one of the stages of the “Way of the Spirit, which is a 70 km trail located within the Majella National Park. The entire route can be done in 3 or 4 days and is a fantastic experience! 

7) 10 must-see places in the Abruzzo: COSTA DEI TRABOCCHI (province of Chieti)

Another impressive maritime location! In fact, it is considered the most beautiful part of the entire coast of Abruzzo. The coast passes along the SS16 Adriatica, and goes from Francavilla al Mare to San Salvo, passing through Ortona, Fossacesia, San Vito Chietino and Vasto. The stretch of Abruzzo starts in Ortona, and it is here that you will find beaches protected by cliffs and a blue sea that seems to want to hypnotize us.

But what are “trabocchi”?

Trabocchi are wooden constructions similar to stilts, and were often used for fishing. You can see them scattered along the coast of Abruzzo and the Costa dei Trabocchi corresponds to the most beautiful stretch of them. In this stretch you will also find several regional nature reserves and, among them, I suggest you a visit to the Punta Aderci Regional Nature Reserve and the Lecceta di Torino di Sangro Regional Nature Reserve. It’s hard to say which one is the prettiest! What about a Costa dei Trabocchi Cruise? Click here to know more

8) 10 must-see places in the Abruzzo: EUCHARISTIC MIRACLE OF LANCIANO (province of Chieti)

Lanciano is a small town that breathes history! Here is a very special Sanctuary: the Sanctuary of the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano. The Sanctuary houses a reliquary that contains the hosts and wine from the year 700, and according to tradition, during the mass, the monk saw the elements transforming into flesh and blood. All the researchers who analyzed the relics confirmed that, in fact, the event took place and it is something unique in the world. The relic is also considered the oldest miracle known to current Christian history, that is, it really is something not to be missed! Know more about Lanciano and the Eucharistic Miracle.

9) 10 must-see places in the Abruzzo: FORTRESS OF CIVITELLA DEL TRONTO (Civitella del Tronto, province of Terame)

With 25,000 square meters and 500 meters long, the Fortress of Civitella del Tronto is one of the largest and most majestic fortresses in Europe. There you will be able to see the squares of arms, patrol walkways, barracks and much more! The structure dominates the village of Civitella, in the town of Val Vibrata and, inside this fortress, there is also the Historical Museum of Arms and Ancient Maps.

Tip:

  • After visiting the fortress, head to the city! There you can pass through one of the narrowest streets in the world and the narrowest in Italy: the famous Ruetta d’Italia. With its 43 cm wide, this little street was ideal for soldiers to pass without being noticed. A photo there is almost obligatory and you will have a lot of fun!

10) 10 must-see places in the Abruzzo: BASILICA OF SANTA MARIA DI COLLEMAGGIO (L’Aquila)

One word defines this place: majestic! The Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio is located in the region’s capital, L’Aquila, and was commissioned at the end of the 13th century by Pope Celestine V. It is a true work of art! A beautiful place that is worth visiting. This construction is full of details and its facade is of an almost inexplicable beauty, all ordered with white and pink tiles that, together, were the background of three rose windows and some portals. Inside the church it is possible to observe the influences of the different peoples who passed through there such as Byzantines, Arabs, Sicilians and Tuscans. The structure was severely damaged by the 2009 earthquake, but has been fully restored and is now in its glorious original form.


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Conclusion

10 must-see places in the Abruzzo! Of course that when we talk about a region like Abruzzo is not easy and it would be impossible to list ALL the beauties that this region has to offer us, but be sure that Abruzzo is a charming region and, although it is not so chosen for tourism, it is worth considering some places to include in your itinerary. Abruzzo is incredible and offers us the best of all worlds: mountains, beaches, history, culture, architecture and really, really special places! Organize your trip and include Abruzzo in your itinerary: you won’t regret it!

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