This wild, untamed and hauntingly beautiful region is fairly close to Rome and yet is surprisingly infrequently explored by foreign tourists. Get off the tourist bandwagon and explore this exciting area on foot. This is the perfect part of Italy for a hiking holiday, whether you are looking to scale the Apennine Mountains, follow trails between idyllic, hill-top villages, or simply take a gentle stroll in a beautiful valley or through fragrant wild-flower meadows. The scenery, friendly locals and outstanding trails of this region will make for a memorable holiday. If you are thinking about visiting Rome but have been put off by the summer crowds, why not visit this region for some time as well, combining a hectic city visit with a more laid back countryside vacation?
Whether you walk independently or take a guided tour, there is much to see and do here. This region does, after all, boast not one but three national parks! There is the Gran Sasso, which contains many of the Apennines’ highest peaks, the Majella National Park, another dramatic mountain range, and the National Park of Abruzzo, which is an important place for the preservation of native flora and fauna, which includes bears, wolves, chamois and wild boar. Throughout Abruzzo you will find a large number of exemplary mountain hikes and valley trails to suit most fitness levels, though this is a rugged region with more steep gradients and challenging walks than gentle rambles.
The dramatic peaks of Gran Sasso offer the greatest challenges to mountain walkers in the area. These are a bulky massif comprising two parallel mountain chains flanking the Campo Imperatore Plain that stretches for 27km at over 2000m above sea level. The National Park has a huge number of hiking trails that allow you to explore this dramatic region.
In the Abruzzo National Park you can base yourself in the central village of Pescasseroli, which will allow you to strike out on one of the trails that radiate out from this hub. Get away from the tourist village and you will swiftly find yourself in the glorious scenery of the Apennines.
In the Maiella Mountain Range there are about 500km of walking trails to be enjoyed. Here you can also see the cave paintings in the Grotta Sant’Angelo and you can explore the one of the deepest natural caverns in Europe that is open to the public, the Grotta del Cavallone. You can also ascend to the highest peak of the massif, Monte Amaro, which is 2793 m high.
There are many dramatic landscapes to be experienced in the varied and wild region of Abruzzo. Be sure to bring a camera to capture the sublime and breathtaking views you will get from high in the mountains and of course always be sure to arm yourself with the right gear and a good map – as is usual in Italy, signposting can be patchy and it can be easy to miss an indication. That said, even if you do get lost once in a while, you are sure not to mind when you are surrounded by such natural beauty.