Travel to Abruzzo, Italy – Episode 791

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Travel to Abruzzo, Italy (Podcast) - Hikes, National Parks, Beaches, and Food

Hear about travel to the region of Abruzzo in Italy as the Amateur Traveler talks to Jackie Parsons from about an area where she leads hiking and culinary tours.

Jackie says, “Abruzzo is between Rome and the Adriatic coast. Surprisingly, it is only two and a half hours from the Capitol, yet it is a different world. I think Abruzzo is a region to discover, if you are looking for a region that is authentic, something that isn’t overrun by tourists, somewhere if you love nature,  somewhere that is unspoiled if you love animals, wildflowers. It also has beaches as well. It has something for everybody. The people are genuine and really welcoming. And the food and wine is amazing.”

Jackie starts us in little town of Sulmona, which is in the valley surrounded by the Apennine Mountains. It is a beautiful market town. It’s known nowadays for its confetti, which what the Italians call the sugared almonds that they will hand out at weddings. These are displayed as flowers, bees or animals. Above the town there is a hike to the ruins of a castle, Rocca Calascio, with views of the tallest mountain in the Apennines, Gran Sasso.

From there she recommends visiting one of the 4 national parks in Abruzzo. Her recommendation is the Campo Imperatore in the Gran Sasso d’Italia. Campo Imperatore (field of the Emperor) is often referred to as little Tibet, because it is flat, surrounded by mountains and a real feeling of wilderness. In the springtime, when we are often there is carpeted with beautiful wildflowers. During WWII in 1943, when Mussolini was deposed from power, he was sent up to this area to the Hotel Campo Imperatore where he was imprisoned until liberated by the Germans and put back into power.

Jackie recommends staying in the small mountain town of Santo Stefano di Sessanio which is an albergo diffuso, a “dispersed hotel”. Instead of staying in a hotel room, you stay in one of the small houses.

For some time at the beach, Jackie sends us down to the Adriatic Coast to Ortona. In WWII, this was on the Gustav Line, the line of fortifications built to stop the Allied advance up Italy. 

We also talk about the other 3 national parks in Abruzzo: Maiella National Park, Abruzzo  National Park, and Parco del Sirente. These can be great places for hiking, swimming in a mountain lake or seeing some of Abruzzo’s big 5 which includes brown bears, wolves, wild boar, chamois and golden eagles. Jackie recommends a tour with the guides from Wildlife Adventures to see some of the local fauna.

We learn about the local cuisine which includes lamb dishes like “arrosticini” skewers, truffles, mushrooms and spaghetti alla chitarra. And since this is Italy, it also includes local wines like Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Pecorino.

Hear about this under visited corner of Italy and see if you may want to add it to your next Italian itinerary.

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Show Notes

Guided Gourmet Walking Holidays, Italy & Australia | Hedonistic Hiking
Gran Sasso d’Italia
Campo Imperatore
Hotel Campo Imperatore
Gran Sasso raid
Santo Stefano di Sessanio
Sextantio Albergo Diffuso
Albergo Diffuso
Albergo Diffuso
Gustav Line (WWII)
Maiella National Park
Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park
Wildlife Adventures
Parco del Sirente
Spaghetti alla chitarra
Blitum bonus-henricus
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
Castle of Rocca Calascio
Ladyhawke (film)
The American (film)
Trans-Siberian Train
Corno Grande
The Wilds of Abruzzo


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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

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