Abruzzo - The Hidden Italy

Journey to Abruzzo - The Hidden Italy that stretches from the heart of the Apennines to the Adriatic Sea on some of the most mountainous and wild terrain, often dubbed the "Green Heart of Europe". Abruzzo is still largely less-documented but its wine, cuisines, heritage and landscape represents one of the last old world of Italy that exudes a unique nostalgia. 

HIGHLIGHTS

Experience a less-trodden part of Italy without crowds

Enjoy stays in unique and boutique hotels

Experience exceptional wine and gourmet experiences

Enjoy an intimate Abruzzese experience with local characters

ITINERARY

DAY 1: ARRIVE ROME / ANVERSA DEGLI ABRUZZI / SULMONA / CASTEL DI SANGRO

Arrive into Rome Fiumicino Intl Airport where you will be met and then begin a pleasant drive greeted by the backdrop of the Apennines mountain range into the less-traveled region of Abruzzo with some of the most beautiful collection of mesmerizing hilltop villages, natural beauty, medieval and Renaissance architecture and scintillating lifestyle of the Adriatic Coast. Our first stop is the pretty hilltop village of Anversa degli Abruzzi, perched over the gorge of the Saggitario River where we enjoy a break and stretch our legs in the amazing surroundings of one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Enjoy an exploration of the town with its rich Norman past while taking in some of the most incredible scenery. Not far away, we continue to Sulmona, one of the most beautiful towns in Abruzzo with its distinctive Renaissance architecture and renowned as a market town for the Abruzzese people. Enjoy a tour starting from the Piazza Garibaldi, a focal point for local festivals while learning its tradition of confetti-making (sugar-coated almond sweets). Get to taste Italy's best saffron, lentils, garlic and the unmistakable porchetta and arrosticini mutton skewers before we make our way to the medieval city of Castel di Sangro and arrive at the stunning Casadonna Reale where we spend the next few nights. 

Overnight: Casadonna Reale, Castel di Sangro

Meals: NIL

DAY 2: CASTEL DI SANGRO (MAJELLA NATIONAL PARK & GEMS OF CHIETI & L'AQUILA)

We start the day with a pleasant drive to the village of Fara San Martino, nestled in the Majella National Park. These mountains have been known since ancient times as the Montagna Madre the grand protectress of shepherds, hermits, monks and place of ancient cults of worship by the pre-Roman tribes, the Italics. Enjoy a short walk into the gorge and see recently completed archaeological excavations come to light a 9th Century Benedictine monastery, the Abbazia di Fara San Martino. Thereafter, continue to the outskirt of the town of Roccamorice where we encounter Abruzzo’s most famous rock face hermitage, the Eremo di San Bartholomeo. A pleasant 45mins walk takes us up pass some of the most visually-stunning and alluring short walks (easy for all ages and physical conditions) to the hermitage chapel that preserves a distinctive spiritual aura while soaking in the mesmerizing views. Thereafter, we continue the second half of the day to the timeless village of Scanno, passing by with a brief photographic stop at its beautiful heart-shaped lake, the Lago di Scanno. Arriving in the town, we immediately begin an insight into this ancient town where the name Scanno is derived from the Latin word, "Scamnun", a term the Romans used to indicate the borders of a
conquered territory which has been divided and given to new owners. Walking through the town, you will discover the unmissable traditional dress worn by Scannese women which shapes the distinct character and atmosphere of Scanno which attracted world-renowned photographers such as Henri Cartier Bresson to document the charm of an old world. It is also here that you get to experience traditional crafts - the renowned lacework and crotchet work (blankets and tablecloths) as well as traditional pastries such as "mostaccioli", made with chocolate, almonds and cooked "mosto" (wine before fermentation is completed). This evening, we tuck into a sensational 3 Michelin star Dinner experience at The Reale Restaurant for an amazing gastronomic adventure of renowned Chef Niko Romito showcasing the finest Abruzzo cuisine. 

Overnight: Casadonna Reale, Castel di Sangro

Meals: Breakfast & Michelin Dinner

DAY 3: CASTEL DI SANGRO / TRABOCCHI COAST / CASACANDITELLA

We leave Casadonna Reale today and drive through the heartlands of Abruzzo to the magnificent medieval castle of Roccascalegna, a spectacular fortress overlooking the valley of the Rio Secco dating back to the 12th Century perched on a rocky outcrop that resembles a ship. From here, we then continue to the shimmering Adriatic Sea on the famed "Trabocchi Coast" stretching 70km from San Salvo to Ortona, dotted with "trabocchi", fishing huts that are built entirely of wood and arranged on platforms supported by stilts. Learn about the fishing heritage while having the opportunity to interact with the seasoned and hardened fishermen before a lunch experience is arranged in an active trabocco restaurant sampling fine seafood and wine to pair. We visit the coastal towns of San Vito Chietino and Ortona, two charming coastal towns that offers great views of the Adriatic and the passionate and warm lifestyle. Finally, we arrive in the village of Casacanditella where we will stay at the charming 17th Century Castello di Semivicoli, restored by the renowned Masciarelli wine family in a setting surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. 

Overnight: Castello di Semivicoli, Casacanditella

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

DAY 4: CASACANDITELLA / LORETO APRUTINO / SANTO STEFANO DI SESSANIO

A pleasant morning begins with a visit to the town of San Martino sulla Marracina, home to the renowned Masciarelli winery where we get behind the scenes to learn about the production of its signature wines and get a more in-depth understanding of its Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and the Trebbiano d'Abruzzo. Enjoy some tastings of its epic wines including the Villa Gemma before continuing on to the bustling and pretty town of Loreta Aprutino, renowned for is superb olive oil. Visit the Thursday market and learn more about its glorious olive oil-producing heritage, revered for its superior qualities where we will visit an olive mill as well as the ceramic museum which showcases some of the most incredible collection of ceramics since medieval times. 

After lunch, we then continue the second half of the day in the direction of highlands of the Apennines. Visit the ruins of Rocca Calascio, undoubtedly one of Abruzzo's most recognizable landmarks built in the 10th Century and one of the highest fortresses in Europe. Enjoy spectacular views of the mountain range before we eventually arrive in the fortified village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio to check in at the incredible Sextantio Santo Stefano di Sessanio, spectacularly restored by Swedish-Italian entrepreneur and philanthropist, Daniele Kihlgren where we enjoy an experiential stay. 

Overnight: Sextantio Santo Stefano di Sessanio

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 5: SANTO STEFANO DI SESSANIO (GRAN SASSO NATIONAL PARK)

Today, we enjoy an inspiring day in the highlands on a comfortable walk of the high plains, encircled by the peaks of the Gran Sasso National Park, undulating between 1,580m and 1,780m where the agenda of the day is to experience the magic of the mountain life, extraordinary mountain scenery and time for a picnic in a surreal setting. 

NOTES:

Walks are conducted flexibly at your own pace with a mountain guide. 

Overnight: Sextantio Santo Stefano di Sessanio

Meals: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner

DAY 6: SANTO STEFANO DI SESSANIO / DEPARTURE ROME

Our quintessential discovery of Abruzzo ends today where we transfer to Rome for your onward journey home OR consider an extended program of North Abruzzo to the wine regions of Teramo and Civitella del Tronto, the truffles-rich region of Marche near the scintillating city of Ascoli-Piceno. 

Meals: Breakfast

HOTELS

The Casadonna Reale, a 6th Century monastery, is an elegant exclusive boutique hotel perched on the hills of Val di Sangro in Italy, offering 6 comfortable luxury suites in beautiful surroundings and exquisite gourmet Abruzzo meals in its 3 Michelin star Reale Restaurant created by renowned Chef Niko Romito. 

Casadonna Reale, Castel di Sangro

Castello Di Semivicoli offers uniquely decorated rooms in the 17th-century castle of the Masciarelli family, famous winemakers. Enjoy a mesmerizing stay in an incredible setting dotted with vineyards and olive groves and close proximity to the Adriatic Sea near to the famous Costa dei Trabocchi. 

Castello di Semivicoli, Casacanditella

Santo Stefano di Sessanio nestles in the middle of Abruzzo and is one of the region's most striking hilltop towns. There, one finds the 30-room Sextantio Santo Stefano di Sessanio, lovingly and carefully-restored keeping authentic medieval principles and a passion towards restoring the slow life. 

Sextantio Santo Stefano di Sessanio

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