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Abruzzo & Molise

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602

Abruzzo & Molise
Straddling the central Apennines, Abruzzo and Molise offer some of Italy’s least-explored
countryside. And it’s this wild landscape of stark peaks, silent valleys and dark forests that’s
the real reason to visit. In few other regions can you find such solitude. But that’s not to
say that tourism has bypassed the area. It hasn’t. The Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo, Lazio e
Molise attracts two million visitors annually, while further east the heavily developed Adriatic
resorts swell with sun seekers every August. Inland, however, the pace is slower and the
infrastructure less obtrusive.
Abruzzo and Molise boast three national parks encompassing 3350 sq km of mountainous
terrain. Here a small number of wolves and bears roam free, and although you’re unlikely to
meet one, it adds an edge to know that you might. A vast outdoor playground, the parks
are a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts with wonderful hiking, skiing and mountain-biking.
Traditionally poor and neglected, neither region is as culturally rich as its more illustrious neighbours, but there are gems to be found. The Romanesque Basilica di Santa Maria di Collemaggio
in L’Aquila and the Byzantine frescoes of the Abbazia di San Vincenzo Volturno, northwest of
Isernia, are both striking examples of artistic expression. Isolation has also ensured the survival
of age-old customs such as Cocullo’s bizarre snake-charmers’ procession and the manic bull-race
in Ururi. In Scanno, you can still see elderly women wearing traditional costumes.
The two regions (known collectively as the Abruzzi until they were divided in 1963) are
among Italy’s most earthquake-prone. Most recently, a quake in 2002 killed 29 people in
the small town of San Giuliano di Puglia.
HIGHLIGHTS
„ Take in the views from Corno Grande

(p607), the Apennines’ highest peak
Corno Grande

„ Walk with the wolves in the Parco
Nazionale d’Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise
(p610)
„ Catch the snakes at Cocullo’s Processione

dei Serpari (p609)

ABRUZZO & MOLISE

„ Stroll the Roman streets at Saepinum (p614)
„ Drive the spectacular Gole di Sagittaro en

Cocullo
Scanno

Parco Nazionale
d'Abruzzo, Lazio
e Molise

route to Scanno (p609)
Saepinum

„ POPULATION: Abruzzo 1.3 million;

Molise 320,900

„ AREA: Abruzzo 10,794 sq km;

Molise 4438 sq km

lonelyplanet.com

A B R U Z Z O • • L ’ A q u i l a 603

lemaggio is one of the region’s most impressive buildings, it’s got a mean castle and the
magnificent Parco Nazionale del ...
ABRUZZO & MOLISE
Straddling the central Apennines, Abruzzo and Molise offer some of Italy’s least-explored
countryside. And it’s this wild landscape of stark peaks, silent valleys and dark forests that’s
the real reason to visit. In few other regions can you find such solitude. But that’s not to
say that tourism has bypassed the area. It hasn’t. The Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo, Lazio e
Molise attracts two million visitors annually, while further east the heavily developed Adriatic
resorts swell with sun seekers every August. Inland, however, the pace is slower and the
infrastructure less obtrusive.
Abruzzo and Molise boast three national parks encompassing 3350 sq km of mountainous
terrain. Here a small number of wolves and bears roam free, and although you’re unlikely to
meet one, it adds an edge to know that you might. A vast outdoor playground, the parks
are a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts with wonderful hiking, skiing and mountain-biking.
Traditionally poor and neglected, neither region is as culturally rich as its more illustrious neigh-
bours, but there are gems to be found. The Romanesque Basilica di Santa Maria di Collemaggio
in L’Aquila and the Byzantine frescoes of the Abbazia di San Vincenzo Volturno, northwest of
Isernia, are both striking examples of artistic expression. Isolation has also ensured the survival
of age-old customs such as Cocullo’s bizarre snake-charmers’ procession and the manic bull-race
in Ururi. In Scanno, you can still see elderly women wearing traditional costumes.
The two regions (known collectively as the Abruzzi until they were divided in 1963) are
among Italy’s most earthquake-prone. Most recently, a quake in 2002 killed 29 people in
the small town of San Giuliano di Puglia.
Abruzzo & Molise
HIGHLIGHTS
Take in the views from Corno Grande
( p607 ), the Apennines’ highest peak
Walk with the wolves in the Parco
Nazionale d’Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise
( p610 )
Catch the snakes at Cocullo’s Processione
dei Serpari ( p609 )
Stroll the Roman streets at Saepinum ( p614 )
Drive the spectacular Gole di Sagittaro en
route to Scanno ( p609 )
Scanno
e Molise
d'Abruzzo, Lazio
Parco Nazionale
Corno Grande
Saepinum
Cocullo
POPULATION: Abruzzo 1.3 million;
Molise 320,900
AREA: Abruzzo 10,794 sq km;
Molise 4438 sq km
© Lonely Planet Publications
602
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