Abruzzo, Molise, Le Marche
Abruzzo, Molise, and Le Marche all comprise the middle of Italy's Adriatic (Eastern) coast. Each offers its own culture, cuisine, and natural beauty.
A mountainous region just northeast of Lazio, contains the charming city of L'Aquila (which was hit by an earthquake and hosted the G8 in 2009) and the beautiful Gran Sasso National Park (the highest point in Italy outside of the Alps).
- Rocca Calascio - near the Gran Sasso, this ruined castle is very evocative; see this page for more about the surrounding region
- Santuario di San Gabriele Dell'Addolorata (Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows) - near the Gran Sasso, this shrine gets 2M visitors a year (!)
- Navelli Plain - known for growing some of the best saffron in the world; there is a festival in August and the harvest is in October; more on this page
- Parco Nazionale della Majella - beautiful park
- Hill Towns
- Santo Stefano di Sessanio - one of the top destinations on TripAdvisor, “fairytale village in the mountains”
- Castel del Monte (not the Puglia one) - was in The American with George Clooney
- Pacentro - cool double-towered Castello dei Caldora
- Chieti - provincial capital, perched between the mountains & coast
- Scanno - overlooks a lake
- Pietracamela - near imposing Gran Sasso
- Teramo - larger provincial capital, near Gran Sasso, nice medieval square
- Anversa degli Abruzzi
- Loreto Aprutino - cute town, one guy online rec’s Florano (part of the B&B Loreblick), New Evo, La Bilancia
- Penne - nice town near Lago di Penne with stunning views of Gran Sasso
- Nearby in Picciano, good Slow Food restaurant = Font’Artana
- Capestrano, Abruzzo - nice
- Mascioni - on lago di campotosto
- much of Abruzzo's coast is pretty boring (someone called Pescara an “Italian Miami”) but the southern part is more interesting
- Ortona has a cool castle
- just S in Rocca San Giovanni: Trabocco Punta Isolata and various other trabucchi offer food
- Vasto looks nice
Molise has similar scenery and climate to Abruzzo and is the site of the San Vincenzo Abbey service project.
It's one of the most overlooked regions in Italy (it only split from Abruzzo in 1970, and there's an internet meme "Molise non esiste" or "Molise doesn't exist"!).
The coastline of Molise (also parts of Abruzzo and Gargano in Puglia) is known for Trabucchi, a kind of fishing pier that looks very interesting; some have been converted into restaurants.
Campobasso, Molise: Matese Mountains look beautiful
Also referred to as "Marches", Le Marche is named after the historic March of Ancona, and is actually quite hilly. Just east of Tuscany and Umbria, it features some excellent hill towns, like its neighbors, but few of the crowds.
- Urbino - the most famous Marche hill town, rec'd by Rick Steves for its Ducal Palace
- Locanda della Valle Nuova - nearby agriturismo rec'd by Travel and Leisure
- Ascoli Piceno - southern provincial capital, with charming medieval center
- Other Hill Towns
- near Monte Sibillini: Amandola, Montemonaco and Montefortino
- other good ideas in this tripadvisor forum discussion
- "Most Beautiful Towns in Italy"
- Montefiore dell'Aso
- San Ginesio