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A rich, fertile land lies between the Apennines slopes and the waters of the Adriatic. Its features are countless: a vast range of ski slopes and beaches, nature parks and art towns, medieval churches, castles and museums. There is a whole universe to be discovered between the Apennines and the sea. Easily reached from most parts of Italy,Abruzzo nonetheless remained at a distance, a little withdrawn, for a long time, but little by little it is very rightly being rediscovered. The beaches and the cliffs line 130 kilometres of the Adriatic coast and they are probably the best known part of the region. Previously, the coast was a favourite with families, but younger people and international visitors have started to discover the area thanks to its marinas, sports facilities and many events.
At the same time, thousands of visitors from Italy and Europe have begun to move inwards to the splendid hinterland, seeking out the art towns and old centres, visiting the castles, the churches and the abbeys.
Ski enthusiasts from all over Italy enjoy the snow-covered slopes that have now also begun to attract foreign skiers thanks to international connections through Abruzzo Airport. Gourmets can rediscover the authentic flavours of regional produce, wines and olive oils, and those who want to focus on wellness will enjoy the spas at the foot of Mount Majella and in theVal Roveto woods. For centuries, writers and guidebooks have referred to Abruzzo as “strong and amiable”, but local residents would find this definition somewhat limiting.One thing is certain though: the oversimplified description is based on truth.
Those seeking sports in the region will not be disappointed by the delight of trekking through the snowy canyons of Majella and Sirente; by the soft grassy slopes that provide perfect take-off and landing spots for paragliders and hang gliders; by the sheer rocky faces of Gran Sasso, where Francesco de Marchi wrote one of the first pages in European mountaineering history, as long ago as 1573.
This is where generations of rock climbers, from the end of the 1800s to the present day, have been entranced by the appeal of the “Abruzzo Dolomites”.
For those who prefer culture and history,Abruzzo holds equal appeal in the shape of the Marsican, Samnite and Picene settlements and burial sites strewn throughout the Abruzzo countryside.Over recent years archaeologists have finally begun to excavate and, as is fitting, Abruzzo’s public authorities have begun to valorize these burial grounds.Museums now display vases, sculptures and elegant beds with bone decorations. However, the real spirit of the warlike ancient tribes who peopled Abruzzo can be understood by their swords, their discarmour, and their shields. The turreted castle profiles are also strong: survivors of Abruzzo’s dark Middle Ages and built to protect the borders and the ancient wool and transhumance routes.
On the other hand, the undulating slopes of the hills are “amiable” in comparison, as are the frescoes in the medieval churches, the endless seduction of local food and wine, the beneficial effects of the spa waters, and the long golden ribbon of beach that marks the eastern edge of Abruzzo for over 100 kilometres. The monuments that embellish Abruzzo could also be considered “amiable”, standing as reminders of the only two periods in which the area knew some peace. Through April and May the mountain peaks iced with the last of the winter snows make a surprising, amiable backdrop to the vineyards, olive groves, orchards and colourful flowering of the hills. Nonetheless, the “strong and amiable” label is far too restricting for the Abruzzo of the new millennium. In addition to the strength and amiability of the countryside, history,monuments, flavours, this region is capable of offering a captivating condensation of old and new to residents and visitors alike.
Alongside its unspoilt parks – and what could be more “traditional” than uncontaminated nature? – there are many scientific research and technological excellence centres using cutting-edge expertise, there are sophisticated methods for environmental management of the “Abruzzo of the Parks” – a great “experimental biodiversity laboratory”. Side-by-side with the reassuring, familiar embrace of the beaches are the marinas, swimming pools, aqua parks and the numerous accommodation, sporting and recreational facilities that the Abruzzo coast offers the most active holidaymakers.