Last Updated: 23 May 2018

Abruzzo

Abruzzo

Abruzzo

The Abruzzo (or Abruzzi) is the Italian region covering the highest and wildest part of the Apennines, the mountain range that forms the backbone of peninsular Italy.

Abruzzo is in the central section of eastern Italy, stretching from the Central Apennines’ watershed to the Adriatic Sea, an arm of the Mediterranean.

As much of Italy, Abruzzi is mountainous and coastal at the same time.

The highest peaks of the Italian peninsula – excluding continental Italy in the north, crowned by the Alps which have Europe's tallest mountains – are indeed in Abruzzi: the groups of Gran Sasso d'Italia which reaches the altitude of over 2,900 metres, and Maiella at nearly 2,800 metres above sea level.

Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo

In the southern part of the region is the vast Abruzzo National Park (“Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo"), extending for about 50,000 hectares (over 123,000 acres), covered with beautiful beech forests. Founded in 1922, it is Italy's second longest-established national park and includes within its territory 25 towns.

It is home to rare species of large animals like the Abruzzi brown bear (Ursus arctos marsicanus), the Apennine wolf (Canis lupus italicus), the Abruzzi chamois deer (Rupicapra rupicapra ornata), the lynx (Linx linx), the most difficult animal to find, and the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). All in all this is the hanitat of over 60 species of mammals, 300 of birds and 40 of reptiles, plus innumerable insects and other invertebrates.

The Park is criss-crossed by numerous side valleys, and possesses a wide network of footpaths and mountain huts, all of which makes it highly suitable to walkers and climbers.

The Parco Nazionale can be explored on foot, horseback or bicycle.

The central point and hub of the Abruzzo National Park is the little town of Pescasseroli, located in a wide plain at 1,167 m. above sea level in the upper valley of the river Sangro, with a dry and healthy climate. This is where the Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo has its administrative headquarters. It makes a great base, a resort for both summer holiday visitors and winter sports enthusiasts, and is Ideal for active, nature-loving families. There are some 150 walking trails around Pescasseroli.

For a nice mountain stay, among the best-liked hotels in Pescasseroli are: the 4-star Grand Hotel del Parco, surrounded by unspoilt nature and wildlife at an altitude of 1,250 metres, close to ski slopes, ski schools and ski lift, with a swimming pool, gardens and rooms furnished in mountain style; the B&B Le Antiche Torri, with free private parking, free WiFi and a garden, not far from Pescasseroli's main square; the very good value guesthouse Affittacamere Prato Rosso, right in the town centre of Pescasseroli, with views of the village from the rooms, free parking and located 200 yards from bus stop to Rome and Naples. For self-catering holiday flats, the Appartamento Vacanze Pescasseroli has balcony, free on-site parking, free Wi-fi.

 

Marina di San Vito Chietino

Marina di San Vito Chietino

Abruzzo Beaches and Coastal Towns

Many pretty beaches and seaside resorts line the Adriatic Coast, and are generally a short distance from any part of Abruzzo.

From north to south these below are the main coastal towns and beaches in Abruzzo.

Martinsicuro is a little town on the Adriatic and ancient Roman colony. It has long beaches of golden, fine sand, very good for children, and a delightful seafront promenade lined by palm trees between the mouths of the river Tronto and the stream Vibrata, both of which reach the sea after having crossed the enchanting hills and mountains towering above their valleys. Martinsicuro, like many other seaside resorts in Abruzzo, is rich in tourist services, hotels, campsites, bathing establishments where you can rent a beach hut, umbrella and sun bed, but it also has stretches of free beach. You can also find sports centres to hire sailing, windsurfing and other water sports equipment. The Adriatic Cycle Route is a cycle path running along the coast for over 20 km.

Alba Adriatica, one of Abruzzo's and the Italian Adriatic coast's most famous and popular resorts, has a child-friendly, ample, over-3-km-long beach of fine sand. It is one of the best beaches in the Abruzzi region, and has been awarded for 13 times the Blue Flag, eco-label for European beaches, by the Foundation for Environmental Education, in recognition for the cleanest seaside resorts. It is known as the Silver Beach for the silvery hue of its sand, the loveliness of the coastline and the shallow and sandy seabeds. Majestic pines, palm trees and fragrant oleanders grace the seafront promenade. The town of Alba Adriatica doesn't lack trendy clubs, fashionable shops and various forms of entertainment, including late-evening dance floors on the beach and the summer carnival on the waterfront, displaying allegoric floats and colorful masks.

Tortoreto Lido, next to the little medieval hilly town of Tortoreto Alto, has a pretty seafront promenade: about 3,000 palms and pine trees framing the exquisite Art Nouveau villas, which have given the town the reputation of being aristocratic and elegant. The beach is 3 km of fine sand, winning every year since 1992 the coveted Blue Flag. It has also won the Green Flag destined to the best beaches for children, with its shallow seabeds. Tortoreto can be reached by a lovely cycling path along the coast.

Giulianova Lido has one of the best beaches of Abruzzo for a holiday with your dog. In Giulianova the beach is very clean, winning the seaside town the Blue Flag. It's among the winners of the Green Flag for kid-friendly beaches, and is on the coastal Adriatic Cycle Route.

Roseto degli Abruzzi, one of Abruzzo's best known resorts, long established for over a century, has a narrow, long sandy beach suitable for kids, winner of the Green Flag: its calm waters are ideal for families, as well as the golden and soft sand that slopes gently towards the sea, allowing children to play on the shore in tranquility. But the many facilities, shops and fashionable venues also attract a young clientele for a fun that continues in the evening hours. Roseto degli Abruzzi is famous for its clean sea. Also called "Lido delle Rose" for the great variety of roses, gardens and oleanders that traditionally have adorned its streets and balconies, Roseto Degli Abruzzi has a graceful seaside promenade, surrounded by green pines, palm trees and, you guessed it, bright-coloured roses. Roseto has both free beaches and well-equipped bathing establishments.

Near Roseto is one of Abruzzo's most beautiful beaches, Cologna Beach: it has no services, is free of crowds and full of nature, and is winner of the Blue Flag of Europe since 1999. The stretch of coast between Cologna Beach and Roseto itself is part of the Nature Reserve of Borsacchio, 3 km of wild coast free from built-up areas, which like Cologna Beach is dotted with centuries-old pine trees, oak trees and Mediterranen vegetation, all around a white sandy beach and a sea of turquoise blue. Ideal for those who want to swim in crystal clear waters away from the multitudes.

The town of Pineto (meaning 'pinewood'), considered one of the pearls of the Abruzzo coast, has another gorgeous Blue Flag beach, a wide, golden and almost 10-kilometre-long coastline, some of which is completely bordered by a fragrant pine forest with trees that come down to the coast. The whole area, with stretches of free beach alternating with beaches with many services, is well looked after, with crystal clear sea even during periods of many tourists. In the pine forest are many picnic areas, some of which equipped with games for both kids and adults. Pineto is near the little medieval town of Atri, where you can see a Gothic cathedral with lovely frescoes.

Abruzzo - Torre del Cerrano

Torre del Cerrano

Few km (8 minutes' drive) south from Pineto is not only an enchantingl beach but also a site worth seeing: Torre del Cerrano, a sixteenth-century coastal tower, housing a library and the Sea Museum. It stands in the Torre del Cerrano Marine Protected Area, which protects a stretch of sea of about 7 kilometres. It is one of the ancient coastal towers of the Kingdom of Naples. Located between Pineto and Silvi. Cerrano Tower, built in 1568, is one of the few intact examples that remain of the dense network of coastal fortifications of the Kingdom of Naples, which had the function of repelling the frequent attacks of Turks and Saracens coming from the sea. Torre Cerrano takes its name from the river descending from the hills of Atri, whose mouth is 500 meters south of the tower, in the municipality of Silvi. It dominates an evocative, sandy, soft beach. Not crowded, surrounded by pine trees, this is another recommended beach and winner of the Green Flag for child-friendly beaches, as well as of the Blue Flag for clear waters.

Silvi Marina, with a long and wide sandy beach good for children, which has earned it the Green Flag in addition to the Blue Flag, is recommended, along with Pineto, by guidebooks to the most beatiful seaside localities in Abruzzo. The coast here is equipped with plenty of accommodation and tourist facilities.

Montesilvano has a sandy beach well equipped for tourists and is near the mouth of the river Saline. It has won the Green Flag as one of the best beaches for kids.

Pescara, a bigger town, the main city of its province, has 6 km of child-friendly beaches of fine sand, reasonably large, winners of the Green Flag. With a population of 123,000 inhabitants, Pescara is Abruzzo's largest city and main port. No wild expanses here or secluded corners. This is an urban environment, with all its disadvantages and also advantages, such as ease of public transport. Tourist facilities abound.

Francavilla al Mare, well known, clean, quiet and relaxing, is suitable for young families, with long sandy beaches provided with umbrellas and sunbeds, but is also frequented by young people attracted by its cafes and pubs.

The coastline starting from of Ortona extends for about 20 km, with a succession of wide and sandy beaches (Foro, ai) that alternate with hidden coves, rocky stretches, bays, cliffs and headlands plunging into the sea, surrounded by a lush Mediterranean vegetation. Ortona has a small sandy beach within the town called Lido Saraceni, and another longer, narrow beach of sand and shingle 3 miles away, Lido Riccio. Ortona also has a ruined castle with lovely views,

Suggestive near Ortona, south of Lido Riccio, is one of Abruzzo coast's most gorgeous spots for its natural beauty, the promontory of Punta Ferruccio, dominating a pebble beach protected between two rocky peaks that plunge into the emerald green sea water: be warned that the beach is not easily accessible and also that here naturism is tolerated. The Punta Ferruccio beach, part of the Costa Teatina National Park, is just north of the Ripari di Giobbe regional nature reserve, which has another of Ortona's best Blue Flag beaches.

Another beautiful Blue Flag beach just south of Ortona is the Spiaggia di Punta Acquabella. In this part of Abruzzo is easy to find plenty of great tourist accommodation, with many bed & breakfasts offering good value.

Marina di San Vito Chietino, among the most picturesque seaside resorts of Abruzzo, a bit reminiscent of Cinque Terre villages, is at the foot of a rocky spur commanding the Adriatic Sea, dominated by the beautiful village of San Vito Chietino, placed on top of the spur. On its long shoreline, Blue Flag 2014, are both fine sand and pebble beaches and coves, lapped by a crystalline and transparent sea and overlooked by gigantic sandstone cliffs frequented by divers and snorkelers. The area is well equipped but not overcrowded with tourists.

On a promontory, between orange groves and brooms is the Eremo Dannunziano, a peaceful corner immersed in natural beauty, the Hermitage of the great early-19th-century poet Gabriele D'Annunzio, where he loved to spend long periods. Recommended is also in San Vito Chietino the wild and hidden beach known as Calata Turchino, so called for the colour of its waters reminiscent of the sky, with spectacular sea.

We are now on the southern coast of Abruzzo.

ones: we are talking about Rocca San Giovanni, San Vito Chietino and Francavilla al Mare all characterized by long sandy beaches equipped with umbrellas and sunbeds for tourists. The beaches of Rocca San Giovanni are two: that of gravel and pebbles located in the locality of La Foce and the more touristy, mainly sandy, located in the area of Trabucco and called Cavalluccio.

Rocca San Giovanni, a historic hamlet which is part of the Circuit of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy, stands on a rocky hill overlooking the splendid Costa dei Trabocchi riviera. Rocca San Giovanni, founded in the 11th century, has a long and important history, of which are many interesting memories in its churches, palaces, Norman walls built in 1061 even before the Normans conquered England in 1066, and other buildings, with an old town going back to the 1300s, worth exploring.

The village has a series of small beaches and countless coves with a turquoise and transparent sea. They are considered the most lovely on the Costa dei Trabocchi and among the best beaches in the entire Abruzzo region. Rocca San Giovanni was awarded the Blue Flag eco-label, as well as winning recognitions from the Italian environmental association Legambiente, for the purity of its waters.

Rocca San Giovanni's largest, most frequented and best equipped beach is in the locality Foce, and has a mainly pebbly shoreline that stretches for over 600 meters between the ancient village of Vallev˛, which also has a beach, and Punta Torre. The most evocative and best known is the Cavalluccio ('little horse') beach, mostly sandy, 30 metres long and 4 wide, with a high sea stack called the 'Scoglione' (big rock), similar to the more famous "faraglioni" in the island of Capri, and dominated by the imposing promontory rising up behind it and lining the whole bay.

To the north are the white pebble beaches of Vallegrotte and the Balena. The sea is everywhere very beautiful, blue, crystalline and with sloping and mostly sandy bottoms, ideal for swimming and diving. Further south is the Punta Punciosa beach. Reaching the beaches is easy by taking the Statale 16 road and then the Rocca San Giovanni exit.

The Costa dei Trabocchi, which is the maritime area of Rocca San Giovanni, as well as of Ortona, Marina di San Vito Chietino, Fossacesia Marina, Torino di Sangro and Casalbordino, is rich in hamlets and seaside resorts, and is characterised by a series of inlets and coves among cliffs, rocks and rugged shores. The charm of this stretch of coastline is also due to its scents, carried by olive trees, pines, brooms, oranges, medlars and wild fennel, typical of the area.

Nearby is the walled town of Lanciano, with its Sanctuary of the Eucharistic Miracle and a cathedral dating back to 1389.

Fossacesia Marina, awarded with the Blue Flag, is close to the Romanesque Basilica of San Giovanni in Venere, built before the 1200s.

Torino di Sangro Marina has a beach part of which is naturist, Lido Le Morge. 

Marina di Vasto, a child-friendly, long and ample beach of fine sand. Vasto itself is a historic town dating back to at least the 3rd century BC. Once a pirate stronghold, it has a perfectly preserved historic centre, with several notworthy churches, the 15th-century Caldoresco Castle, Roman baths and, in the cathedral square, the Palazzo d'Avalos, the palace of the ancient ruling family who turned Vasto into a garden city.

The Vasto area is home to many glorious, unspoilt beaches, the main of which is Vasto Marina, which is the hub of the Vasto summer tourism. Also known as the Golden Gulf, Vasto Marina has a fine and golden sandy beach that extends in the shape of a sickle, bordered by the mouth of the river Trigno to the south and the imposing statue of the Bather, called 'Sirenetta' (little mermaid) by the locals). With its equipped beaches, Vasto Marina is ideal both for families and for sports lovers, in fact there is no shortage of beach volleyball-soccer-tennis courts, not to mention all the pedalos, dinghies and canoes you can hire. A beach of that spreads like a scythe to delimit the now famous Golden Gulf of Vasto. Among the others is the small beach of Punta Aderci, the beach of the Libertines and the Mottagrossa coasts with rocks and pebbles, all surrounded by a wild nature and rich wild broom that are reflected in the amazing waters from cobalt reflexes.

Few miles from the Adriatic coast and set in the national park are many big and small farm estates for farm stays. Srrounded by vineyards, they are often made of of several holiday apartments in the converted stables and farm buildings, with a shared pool.

 

 

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Photo credits: Marina di San Vito Chietino by Giovanni Marcolongo at Visual Drone Service, Torre del Cerrano by Simone S. Taddei .

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