Framed by the Adriatic and the Appenines, Abruzzo is one of the most mountainous regions in Italy, famous for the monasteries and castles that seem to cling to every clifftop. Historically relatively cut off, the pace of development in Abruzzo has been slower than elsewhere in Italy, and life here follows a traditional pattern despite the fact the region’s western borders lie only 50 miles east of Rome. Here, in little-visited hilltowns and villages, some virtually unchanged in centuries, Sunday markets groan with local produce, and family-run trattoria produce unassuming but exquisite feasts. Though Abruzzo’s 80-mile coastline boasts some of the finest Blue Flag beaches in Italy, it is Abruzzo National Park in the rugged mountainous interior that draws many visitors to the region. Criss-crossed by ancient shepherd tracks, covered almost entirely by centuries-old beechwood forest still sheltering wolves and bears, the 190-square mile park is the oldest in the Appenines, offering fantastic walking either through its forests and flower-filled meadows, or up among its 7,000ft granite summits. A beautiful yet little visited region boasting the most southerly glacier in Europe and the highest peak on the Italian peninsula, Abruzzo is an unassuming, enchanting delight which is an ideal holiday destination.
Medieval castles abound, with Pescina, San Pio delle Camere, Celano and Ocre merely some the most spectacular; wandering the winding streets of the dramatic castletowns of Castel di Ieri and Fontecchio; Maiella National Park, with its 40 hermitages and chapels, wild-flower valleys and forests, and Gran Sasso (9,554ft), the highest summit on the Italian peninsula; the ski resort of Pescocostanzo, complete with 16th century palaces and 11th century churches; Ovid’s birthplace, Sulmona, a pretty medieval town in the shadow of Gran Sasso, with a 13th century aqueduct still supplying water to the town’s fountain, a stunning 11th century cathedral with Byzantine-style reliefs; 1st century Roman ruins of Alba Fucens; Gole di Celano, a 2,000ft gorge, with a twisting, dramatically narrow, well-marked track at its base; Ovindoli, a charming hilltop village and wonderful base for hikes and rides into Velino-Sirente Regional Park, where visitors can walk alongside an underground river at Stiffe past spectacular rock formations, giant stalactites, stalagmites and spectacular subterranean waterfalls; Castelli, another classic hilltown with vast views over the valley below Gran Sasso, famed for its contemporary art shops; the 9th century cathedral of Atri and its magnificent Renaissance frescoes; an abundance of monasteries clinging to the cliffs, including the baroque churches and 15th century cloisters of San Giuliano overlooking L’Aquila.
We include a hire-car with all our holidays to Abruzzo.You could spend a lifetime driving the minor roads that branch off the A24 between L’Aquila and Colledara. Littered with monasteries and castle, hilltowns and Roman ruins, the area offers rich pickings for anyone with a hire-car.
By air: Daily flights to Rome with British Airways from Heathrow and Gatwick, or daily flights to Rome with Alitalia from Heathrow. Collect your hire-car on arrival. By rail: You can take the Eurostar to Paris and then the overnight sleeper to Rome. Perhaps stay in Rome first and then collect your hire-car for your stay in Abruzzo. Self-drive: With your own car we recommend at least two overnight stops in each direction, possibly three one way at least, perhaps in Alsace, the Italian Lakes and Tuscany. Let us advise you on an itinerary and make the arrangements for you. In addition to holidays by air and by car, you may also be interested in holidays by rail (including the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and an overnight sleeper service from Paris to Italy).
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CapitalRome AirportThere is a very good scattering of international airports in Italy, with the main ones being Venice, Pisa, Milan, Rome, Bologna, Naples, Genoa, Turin and Bari; on Sicily, Catania is served by several airlines from the UK and on Sardinia you fly to Cagliari or Olbia.CurrencyEuro (£1 = Euro 1.30) SizeItaly is roughly 650 miles long, but only about 100 miles wide Population60 million Average temperatureItaly's temperature varies dramatically, from about 4 degrees in Turin in winter to 33 degrees in Sicily in summer, with snow year-round on the summits of the Pyrenees and Alps National holidays in Italy Some tourist attractions as well as banks etc may close on the following days: 1 January 6 January (Epiphany) Easter Monday 25 April (Liberation Day) 1 May (Labour Day) 15 August (Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary) 1 November (All Saints) 8 December (Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary) Christmas Day Boxing Day There are a number of local feast days that can affect conditions locally. In addition to the above days, museums are often closed on Mondays in Italy.
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