Historically, the Abruzzi is part of southern Italy and is the northernmost region of southern Italy; geographically, Abruzzo is more in the centre of Italy and is only densely populated along the 150 km long Adriatic coast. From the Middle Ages until the 19th century the region belonged to the dominion of Sicily and later Naples and was economically and culturally connected to the regions of lower Italy.
With a population of just under 1,306,000, Abruzzo is one of the least populated regions in Italy. One reason for this is certainly the morphology of the area, about two thirds of which is characterised by the Abruzzo Apennines.
About one third of the surface of Abruzzo is protected. Of all the Italian regions, Abruzzo has the largest number of protected areas, including the oldest in the Apennines: the Abruzzo National Park in the south. The capital of Abruzzo is L’Aquila and is located in the north, surrounded by the large Gran Sasso National Park; further south is the Maiella National Park and to the west is the Sirente-Velino Regional Park with its unspoilt nature.
The Abruzzo National Parks are still home to brown bears (Martian brown bear), chamois, deer, golden eagles, lynxes, otters and wolves. In total, the National Parks are home to about 60 species of mammals, 300 birds, 40 reptiles, amphibians and fish, and numerous insects.
In addition to the still largely intact mountain world, Abruzzo is also home to a rich and varied history dating back thousands of years, the traces of which can be found in all parts of the region. These include caves from prehistoric times, archaeological finds and excavations from Roman and pre-Roman times, Romanesque churches and towns from the Renaissance, numerous castles and palaces and countless picturesque mountain villages and magnificent towns.
Today’s agriculture in Abruzzo is characterised by many small producers of high quality products for a special clientele. The steep slopes of the Abruzzo mountains have been used for centuries as grazing land for sheep. Until the 17th/18th century, grazing culture in particular contributed to the prosperity of this region. Today the region is famous for its Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and produces one of the highest quality olive oils in Italy.
Abruzzo’s cuisine is characterised above all by the freshness and value of the products used in its dishes, most of which are home-made. This guarantees the excellent and genuine taste of these dishes. In many of its dishes, Abruzzo’s cuisine combines the flavours of the sea and the mountains. The combination of legumes with seafood, or seafood is not uncommon here.
Abruzzo’s cuisine often combines the flavours of the sea and the mountains in one dish (“Mare e Monti”). It is not rare to find combinations of seafood and pulses in the form of soups and stews. But it is above all the freshness of the products (mostly home-made) that characterises Abruzzo’s cuisine as a genuine and tasty delight for the palate. Other highlights of the Abruzzo cuisine are the “Pallotte cace e ove”, “Spaghetti alla chitarra”, “Arrosticini”, “Zuppa di pesce alla vastese”, “Porchetta”, “Ventricina”, the peperoncino, the saffron and the truffle (black and white) of Abruzzo.