Italy is made up of 20 regions, each with distinctive characteristics. Here, you’ll get an overview of Abruzzo to get you started on planning a Abruzzo trip.

Abruzzo is an often-forgotten region, so close to one of the most-visited cities in Italy but usually ignored by travelers. It made the news in 2009 when a devastating earthquake hit the capital, but Abruzzo is about more than that. Much more.

Many Italians flock to Abruzzo when they want to get into the great outdoors, as fully one-third of the region is national park or nature reserve. The border of the region is only 50 miles from Rome, so it’s a popular retreat for Romans looking to escape the city. It’s not all green space, however, as Abruzzo has several of the kind of adorable hilltop villages we’ve come to love so much in Tuscany and Umbria – they’re in Abruzzo, too, including some inside national parks and therefore even better-preserved than they might be otherwise. And that long stretch of the region along the Adriatic is extremely popular with Italians on their summer vacations.

Rocca Calascio, Abruzzo || creative commons photo by Marco Bellucci

Rocca Calascio, Abruzzo || creative commons photo by Marco Bellucci

Abruzzo Basics

  • The name of this region is the same in both English and Italian, and it’s pronounced like the double-Z is a TZ – ah|BROOT|zoh.
  • The demonym for people or things from Abruzzo is abruzzesi (plural) or abruzzese (singular).
  • The capital of the Abruzzo region is L’Aquila.
  • Abruzzo is in the southern part of central Italy, surrounded by the regions of Le Marche, Lazio, and Molise, as well as the Adriatic Sea on the eastern side.
  • There are no UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Abruzzo – only one of four regions with that distinction – though there is a tentative site.

Abruzzo Travel Tips

creative commons graphic by Otourly, modified by me

creative commons graphic by Otourly, modified by me

Looking at a map, you might think that Abruzzo was in central Italy, if on the southern end of that area. Culturally and politically, however, it’s considered part of southern Italy. The landscape goes from the sandy or rocky beaches along the Adriatic Sea up to the peaks of the Apennine Mountains that run through the western part of the region. There are cities in Abruzzo, to be sure, but there’s a lot of wilderness, too.

And that wilderness can make it a little tricky to get around sometimes.

Getting to the main cities in Abruzzo by train isn’t hard, but getting to its smaller towns or into the great green spaces typically requires a car. You might be able to get by on regional buses to get into smaller towns and villages, but if you’re heading to the ski resorts in winter or the hiking trails in summer you’ll need to rent your own wheels or book a tour that’ll get you there and back.

Abruzzo is off the map for enough travelers that its high season isn’t terribly crowded – unless you’re talking about the beaches in summer or ski resorts in winter, which are busy. The cities and towns aren’t overrun, even in summer, and you’re likely to run into plenty of people who don’t speak English (it’s the perfect chance to practice your Italian!).

Intrepid travelers looking for a region that caters to the nature enthusiast and isn’t high on everyone else’s must-see list would be smart to head for Abruzzo.

Guided Tours in Abruzzo

These are affiliate links, which means I get a little something if you book one of these tours – but it won’t cost you anything extra.

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