Like other regions in Southern Italy, Abruzzo,
except for a relatively few intrepid souls, has
yet to be "discovered" by English-speaking
travelers. That is changing, as new
highways, linking Abruzzo's principal cities to
Rome, Bari, and the cities of the Marches,
Umbria and other points north have penetrated
the region and made it more accessible.
Word of Abruzzo's abundant cultural,
geographical, natural, architectural, and
culinary riches is now reaching the
Campania, in Abruzzo you will find an Italy
quite out of synch with the sophisticated
northern cities. It is an "old Italy"
slowly moving into the modern era. There
are wolves, bears and cougars at large in the
mountains; shepherds mind their flocks as in
time immemorial; castles and monasteries stand
on precipices guarding or protecting, as the
case may be, valley passes and vast tracks of
empty land. It is charming, curious,
interesting and compelling all at once, but also
perhaps, a bit slow, and sometimes frustrating
to people used to a faster paced life.
Appenines, where you will find the highest
peaks in the range, run through central and
western Abruzzo. In the Gran Sasso,
the Appenine's highest mountain, Monte Corno,
reaches 9560 feet, while Monte Maiella
and Monte Velino-Sirente are almost as
high. Throughout the mountainous regions
one finds rugged canyons, forests, rivers and
lakes. All the land that can be farmed is
farmed, particularly in the eastern foothills of
the Appenines that taper off to the long and
sandy beaches on the Adriatic coast.
The earliest italic tribe known to occupy
Abruzzo were the Picenians. Starting in the
3rd century BC, due to its proximity to
Lazio Roma - or Latium - the region came
under increasing domination by the
Roman Empire, who
established firm control by about 90 BC.
The With the decline of the
empire, some 600 or so years later, the area
broke into a number of often warring feudal
fiefdoms. A measure of control, and unity,
was restored when most of the territory came
under the control of the
Duchy of Spoleto during the 6th Century AD.
the 12th Century, the area was conquered by the
Normans. It was
later conquered and merged into the Kingdom of
Sicily under the rule of
Frederick II. The Kingdom of Sicily
may have changed hands throughout the succeeding
centuries, but Abruzzo remained more or less
within it (Napoleon asserted control from 1799
until he was routed) until Italian unification in 1861.
Given the political history and
geography of Abruzzo, it should come
as no surprise that the traveler
will encounter ruins and extant
architecture that dates back to its
earliest tribal days through the
Romanesque, Gothic and, to a limited
extent, Renaissance periods.
The principal cities have churches,
museums and other public buildings
which house important collections of
art and artifacts.
Economically, the area continues to
struggle, but there is economic and
industrial development, particularly
around Pescara, and from Chieti to
the Adriatic. There is some large an
medium sized farming on the eastern
side of the region, mostly of wheat,
grapes, olives, and potatoes.
Licorice, saffron and tobacco are
Many of the rivers have been
harnessed to produce hydro electric
power that is fed into the main
grids serving all of Italy.
Bauxite is mined in some locales;
methane gas is trapped and
distributed on a commercial basis.
If you are a traveler looking for an
authentic Italian experience, you
will do well to make your next trip
a trip to Abruzzo. It is, in
many ways, a step back in time.