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  • The allure of Abruzzo

The allure of Abruzzo

For hundreds of years the region of Abruzzo has been one of Italy's most isolated – and the signs are there to see.

The region couldn't be more different from Rome, despite being less than a couple of hour’s away by car. In Abruzzo, gone is the frantic pace of the Eternal City, to be replaced by a the slow, deliberate heartbeat of the countryside. Gone too are the enclosed streets and in their place, open spaces often as far as the eye can see.

In Abruzzo, nearly a third of the landscape is given over to natural parkland, as the sprawling plains, scenic valleys and towering mountains are broken up only by beautifully preserved medieval towns and villages.

Abruzzo was absorbed into the then Kingdom of Southern Italy in the 1100s and flourished for some four centuries or so until it fell under the ambit of Spain in the 1500s. The Spanish held sway until the early 18th century, when they were replaced by the Austrians and after them by the Bourbons.

The region began to flourish economically in the 1970s, thanks to agriculture and increased tourism, which tends to be focused on the coast.

Inland, the 375,000-acre Gran Sasso National Park is the most popular part of Abruzzo. It includes the Gran Sasso mountain whose peak Corno Grande peak is the highest point in the entire Apennine mountain range and the sprawling plateau that is Campo Imperatore, a mecca for everyone from tourists to shepherds to movie-makers (the 1987 Sean Connery flick The Name of The Rose was shot here).

Abruzzo National Park lies further south, one of Italy's great wildernesses. More than 100 types of flora and fauna are to be found here, as are wolves and bears. This mountainous, heavily wooded area is very popular with hikers as it offers hundreds of memorable walking trails, many of them reachable from medieval towns such as Pescasseroli and Sulmona.

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