Abruzzi Attractions Abruzzo
The Abruzzi, the wildest and highest part of the Apennines in the east of Central Italy extend from the watershed of the Central Apennines to the Adriatic and take in the four provinces of L'Aquila, Pescara, Chieti and Teramo. On the north they are bounded by the Marche, on the west by Latium and on the Southeast by Molise, with which they have been combined since 1963 to form the administrative unit of Abruzzi e Molise.The heart of the Abruzzi is formed by three mighty mountain chains, the most easterly and highest of which contains the highest peaks in the peninsula, in the Gran Sasso d'Italia group (Corno Grande 2,912m/9,610ft).
Gran Sasso d'Italia
Between the Gran Sasso d'Italia group lie the central uplands of the Abruzzi, in which the longitudinal valley of the Aterno, the high valleys of L'Aquila and Sulmona and the wide and fertile Fucino basin form substantial indentations. The northeastern part, beyond the Gran Sasso massif, which is occupied by an upland region traversed by numerous rivers, slopes down gradually towards the Adriatic. Along the coast are many fine seaside resorts.PopulationThe population is concentrated in the towns of the region - L'Aquila, Chieti, Lanciano, Vasto, Teramo, Pescara, Sulmona and Avezzano. The rest is only thinly populated.AgricultureWith the exception of few areas, especially in the south and in the lower regions, the largest part of the Abruzzi is sparsely wooded, has partly karstic areas, a harsh climate, an abundance of snow and an infertile soil. Arable farming is possible only in the valleys and depressions, particularly in the Fucino basin; the mountain regions are good only for grazing land.Winter sportsSupplementary to agriculture the development of tourism is of great importance. Particularly in the Gran Sasso, which has been equipped with facilities for winter sports (cableway to Campo Imperatore; 2,130m/7,029ft).
Abruzzi National Park
The southernmost part of the Abruzzi is occupied by the Abruzzi National Park (Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo) with its beautiful beech forests. It covers an area of some 400sq.km/154sq.mi in the valley of the upper Sangro and its numerous side valleys. With its network of footpaths and its mountain huts it is ideally suited for tourists; another 200sq.km/77sq.mi belong to the nature reserve. The park was established in 1921 as a nature reserve to protect the landscape, flora and fauna of the Abruzzi; among the mountain animals which can still be seen here are the Abruzzi brown bear (Ursus arctos marsicanus), the Abruzzi chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra ornata), the Apennine wolf (Canis lupus italicus) and the golden eagle.
Pescasseroli, Abruzzi National Park
The central point of the park is the village of Pescasseroli (1,167m/3,851ft) in the Sangro valley - visited both by tourists who enjoy a summer vacation and winter sports enthusiasts - with its enclosures in which animals can live in natural surroundings; botanic garden and museum on the natural history of the park. The philosopher Benedetto Croce (1866-1955) was born here. About 5km/3mi southeast is the village of Opi, starting point for the rewarding climb of Monte Marsicano (2,242m/7,398ft).
In the northern Abruzzi lies Teramo (265m/875ft; pop. 51,500), the capital of the province of the same name (a road tunnel runs from Teramo to L'Aquila). In the center of the town is the Piazza Orsini with the Town Hall, the Bishop's Palace and the cathedral (12th century), which was restored in 1932. The cathedral has a Gothic doorway of 1332. Its interior is furnished in both Roman and Gothic style; worth seeing are a silver altar frontal by Nicola da Guardiagrele (1433-48) and a great polyptychon (1450) by Jacobello del Fiori. Southeast of the cathedral are the remains of a Roman amphitheater.The west front of the cathedral faces on to the Piazza dei Martiri della Libertà, from which the Corso San Giorgio, the town's main street, runs to the municipal park.
Above the Pescara valley, in a situation affording extensive views, is Chieti (330m/1,089ft; pop. 55,000), capital of the province of the same name and the see of an archbishop. In Piazza Vittorio Emanuele are the Town Hall (collection of pictures) and the Gothic cathedral of San Giustino, with a Baroque interior. From the rear of the Town Hall the town's principal street, Corso Marrucino, runs southwest, passing near a group of three temples (to the right, first century), to the municipal park and the Villa Comunale (views!).
National Museum of Antiquities
In the Villa Comunale is the National Museum of Antiquities (Museo Nazionale di Antichità), containing a remarkable collection of prehistoric and Roman material. Just below Strada Marrucina, which flanks the east side of the town hill, is a large rock-cut Roman cistern, with the remains of the baths which it supplied.
On the Adriatic coast, astride the River Pescara which reaches the sea here, is the provincial capital of Pescara (6m/20ft; pop. 132,000). The town was badly damaged during the Second World War but has been rebuilt on an impressive scale. In Piazza Italia, on the left bank of the river, is the imposing Palazzo del Governo. On the other side of the river, stands the Tempio della Conciliazione, built 1935-38 to commemorate the Lateran treaties. On the Corso Manthonè is the house where the poet Gabriele D'Annunzio (1863-1938) was born; inside (open to visitors) there are many relics. In the Museo Ittico (Via Paolucci), close to the Porto Canale, can be seen the skeleton of a sperm whale.
Resorts on Adriatic Coast
Along the Adriatic coast is a whole series of resorts, some of them with beautiful beaches. From north to south: Martinsicuro, Alba Adriatica, Tortoreto Lido (5km/3mi west, the medieval town of Tortoreto Alto), Giulianova, Roseto degli Abruzzi (formerly Rosburgo), Pineto (11km/7mi west, the little town of Atri, with a Romanesque-Gothic cathedral dating from the end of the 13th century, contains fine frescoes), Silvi Marina, Montesilvano Marina, Francavilla al Mare, Ortona (ruins of a castle, fine views), San Vito Chietino (12km/7.5mi southwest, the walled town of Lanciano with the Gothic church of S Maria Maggiori which was rebuilt in the 18th century, with a campanile dating from the 12th century), Fossacesia Marina (near which is the Romanesque basilica of San Giovanni in Venere, eighth-13th century) and Vasto, with several interesting churches and, in the cathedral square, the Palazzo d'Avalos (18th century).