Abruzzo Mountains – Your Scenic Holiday Backdrop
Sit on the sun-terrace outside your Villa. In front of you, away in the distance, are the Monti Frentani and Monti Pizzi
To your right, much closer, is the Majella National Park. Drive towards neighbouring Guardiagrele and en route you’ll catch glimpses of Corno Grande in the Gran Sasso – at a little under 10,000ft, the highest in the entire Apennine chain that runs virtually the length of Italy.
Abruzzo is one of the most rugged and mountainous regions of Italy. Most of Abruzzo’s mountains lie in the region’s three national parks, which in addition to spectacular scenery, offer year-round leisure opportunities too.
If you’re a keen walker – or just fancy a stroll through the Majella National Park – we have hiking guides and maps you’re welcome to use. In the Majella – and Gran Sasso too – there’s a big network of safe, signposted hiking trails.
The best months for walking are late June (when the high meadows are a carpet of flowers) and July, when the last of the snows have finally gone. From late October until mid-May only the very lower reaches of the Majella are snow-free.
Walking in the Mountains with Your Own Personal Guide
Even better if you’re a keen walker is the availability of your own personal guide to accompany you on a walk into the Majella National Park.
Our guides are Giuseppe and his brother Nicola. Both excellent English speakers, they come from Fara San Martino at the very gateway to the Majella, and as former shepherds, they know the mountains intimately – better than anyone.
This is a unique opportunity to experience a guided tour through the Majella quite literally off the beaten track along age-old herding trails not on any map and unknown to regular visitors. Your walk with Giuseppe or Nicola can be for a full or a half-day, and as relaxed or adventurous as you’d like. Please ask us if you’d like to know more.
Majella National Park
You can also spend a day driving through the Majella National Park. A superbly scenic road links the southernmost point Pescocostanzo through the centre of the Park up to Scafo in the north.
Pescocostanzo’s a good starting point and certainly worth a stroll-round. Call in at the American Bar next to the Town Hall in the Piazza Municipio for a coffee and pastry to prepare for your drive.
Where the road divides, resist the temptation to swing left to Sulmona and instead go right, heading for Pacentro and the unique medieval twin towers of its ruined castle. The highly-rated Taverna de li Caldora restaurant is in Pacentro – George Clooney was a regular when making his film ‘The American’ which was shot around here.
North of Pacentro, the road passes Sant’Eufemia a Maiella and its unique botanical garden – open mornings only except in high summer – and the the spa town of Caraminico Terme.
Once you’ve finally reached Scafo, swing south-east down to Passo di Lanciano, Guardiagrele – and back to your villa !
The Gran Sasso
If you want a long day out, tour the Gran Sasso, north of L’Aquila.
Take in the uniquely redeveloped medieval mountain village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio, which can now perhaps be best described as a modern medieval hotel complex, with ancient dwellings hiding luxury interiors. It’s a curiosity – go and take a look.
From Santo Stefano, you can strike north up onto the huge Campo Imperatore plateau. From its heart, a scenic road will take you east towards Corno Grande. You can hike up to the summit and see Il Calderone, the southernmost glacier in Europe.
From Corno Grande, head further east and you’ll arrive at the mountain-ringed Lago di Campotosto at a height of some 1500m/5000ft. A road, again offering wonderful views, runs all the way round. Break your journey in the village of Campotosto itself, on the lake’s northern shore.
Incidentally, the Abruzzo National Park, the oldest in all of Italy – and wildest and most rugged of the three National Parks within Abruzzo’s boundaries – lies to the south-west of Sulmona. It’s crossed by just one major road and along this is the town of Pescasseroli, where you’ll find the Abruzzo National Park’s main Visitor Centre.