There is this everlasting argument in Italy about "which region is the real Italy".
The North looks down on the South, whether none of the "terroni" (derogatory name of inhabitants of Southern Italy) would ever want to live in the North. Somewhere in between lies the region of Abruzzo, quite unknown among foreign tourists, not boasting any particular economic or industrial achievements, yet magnificently beautiful and interesting, intact and not spoiled by massive tourism.
And while millions of tourists head to Tuscany, Rome or Sicily looking for authentic Italy, let me tell you about Abruzzo, one of the least known and one of the most marvelous regions of Italy, I am lucky to be living in.
Do you love skiing? Than you should go to Abruzzo. Do you love sea and sandy beaches? Than you should g to Abruzzo. Do you love hiking? Do you love history? Do you love seafood? Do you love meat? Do you love sailing? Do you love surfing? ... I can go on like this forever and the answer will be the same: come to visit Abruzzo.
Port of Pescara
The region of Abruzzo (or Abruzzi as it is often called) stretches from the Adriatic coast to the heart of the Apennine Mountains, neighboring Lazio region with the Eternal city of Rome. So, basically, if you are in Rome, take a car and after a one-hour drive you will find yourself in Abruzzo. What will you see first? Endless mountains, green hills and snowy peaks. Two-thirds of the region are occupied by mountains and National Parks, and it is fairly named "the greenest region of Europe". It is a real heaven for those who are passionate about hiking, tracking, skiing or climbing. It is also the country of lakes hidden amid the mountains and countless tiny medieval "borgos" (small old towns) perching on hill slopes. In winter you will be surprised to see as much snow here as in Russia and in summer you will be looking for rescue in the sea from 35 degrees heat. Autumn is absolutely magical coming in October, when on the sea shore you still see ever green palm trees, green gardens and trees in blossom, while the mountain slopes are bursting with golden foliage and mountain peaks are already be covered with the first snow.
San Stefano di Sessanio
The region has been inhabited since Neolithic times, Romans have also left some traces here, and even Medici somehow reached those lands too. The city of Atri is said to be older than Rome, and numerous little towns hide medieval legends. The main enemy of all these historical treasures are earthquakes which happen here once in a while.
Abruzzo food deserves a separate post, here I will only tell you that it will satisfy both seafood and meat lovers, as well as wine and cheese connoisseurs with excellent local products.
And what about beaches? Well, I would not lie saying that it feels like Maldives here, but beaches are sandy, clean and mostly washed by very calm sea. The place is perfect for holidays with kids, and the main advantage is that it is popular only with Italian tourists who go to the sea only in August or late July. And in June and early July the beaches are empty and quiet, unlike many other Italian regions, and the water is already warm enough to enjoy swimming.
And for me the beauty of this region lies in its (still) low popularity. Attracting mostly local tourists (essentially Rome residents) it will show you real Italy, maybe not as washed as Tuscany or Veneto, not as famed as Sicily or Sardinia, with no world famous cities like Rome, Venice or Naples, but with real Italians living their real Italian life not adapted to tourists needs or stereotypes, with amazing and untouched nature, with reasonable prices and food of the highest quality.
See you in Abruzzo,