Mountains and Foothills

Overview of Itinerary

  • Santo Stefano di Sessanio
  • Campo Imperatore & Rocca Calascio
  • Penne & Loreto Aprutino
  • Sulmona
  • Pacentro & Pettorano sul Gizio
  • Scanno, Barrea & Pescocostanzo

Overview of activities

  • explore quiet ancient villages
  • scenic drives
  • authentic dinning
  • ancient forts
  • alfresco lunch in the alpine pasture
  • local artisan producers
  • ancient olive oil press
  • wineries
  • farmers market
  • follow the shepherds
  • agritourismo
  • cheese making


Rome > Santo Stefano di Sessanio Abruzzo


We meet at Fiumicino Airport or Rome Termini Train Station in Rome, board our comfortable minibus and enjoy the stunning countryside as we head into Abruzzo.

Our first stop is Santo Stefano di Sessanio, and it will be our base for the next two days. Spend time settling-in, rest from your journey, or explore this quaint medieval village, one of our favourite in Abruzzo. And don’t worry about getting lost, we will find you!

Santo Stefano di Sessanio has been voted as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and has drawn the attention of Lucio Dalla, the Italian singer/songwriter, and George Clooney, who starred in the movie “The American”, which was filmed here.

In the evening, we will make our way down through cobbled laneways and beneath ancient archways to the best restaurant in the village. In the dining room that has remained unchanged since primitive times, we will celebrate the beginning of our adventure together over local wine and meals re-created from original recipes.


Campo Imperatore > Rocca Calascio


This morning we leave Santo Stefano di Sessanio for the day and head into one of the highest pastures of Europe, the alpine meadow of Campo Imperatore, known fondly as Italy’s “Little Tibet”. Here, at 1800m above sea level, we can see the highest peak in the Apennines, The Corno Grande. Campo Imperatore is home to one of Italy’s oldest ski resorts and its hotel was once Benito Mussolini’s prison until he was found and freed by German commandos in 1943.

We will enjoy an alfresco lunch of Abruzzo’s most famous dish, arrosticini (sheep’s meat skewers).  While they cook over the coals, we can gaze at the shepherds and their maremma sheep dogs tending to their flocks, at the wild horses and the beautiful array of wildflowers out over the plateau.

In the afternoon we will visit the spectacular Rocca Calascio, one of the highest mountain top forts in Italy at 1460m above sea level. From here the views out over the valleys and mountains are vast.


Santo Stefano di Sessanio > Roccamorice


Enjoy coffee and cornetti for breakfast with the locals at the bar (cafe) in the piazza. We then have plenty of time to visit the local produce and craft stores, including a honey producer, a cheese, jam and salami producer, a handloom weaver’s store, where we can watch local women perform the ancient art of bobbin lace-making, and a local producer of wool, who spins and dyes their wool using ancient and natural techniques.

Seasons permitting we will visit a saffron farm during harvest time.

We leave Santo Stefano di Sessanio and make our way to our beautiful and charming accommodation in Roccamorice, which will be our base for the rest of the tour. From our accommodation we are able to see the mountains in one direction and the sea in the other. This is the romance of Abruzzo!

This evening, we will attend a festival where we will be able to enjoy mixing with the locals, sample the street food and listen and dance along to the live folk music.


Penne > Loreto Aprutino


Today we head into the foothills and an area that is all about the production of wine and olive oil. The scenery along the way is beautiful, with olive groves dominating as we get nearer to the lively towns of Penne and Loreto Aprutino. Penne, known as the ‘city of bricks’ is bustling with life. In the main piazza we will enjoy morning tea with friends and sit and watch the locals go about their everyday lives.

In Loreto Aprutino, we will visit an ancient olive oil museum and a museum of the renowned Castelli ceramics.

After lunch we will visit two local wineries that are well known in Abruzzo. We will learn about the production of the typical wines: Trebbiano D’Abruzzo, Peccorino and the renowned Montepulciano, and taste some exceptional examples of these varieties.


Sulmona > Pacentro > Pettorano sul Gizio


It’s market day in Sulmona, so practise your Italian on the locals if you like and look out for the local specialty, the aromatic purple garlic. We explore the town’s churches and museums, the Aqueduct, which has been supplying mountain water to the town since Roman times, and Piazza Garibaldi, where people come from all over Europe to see the jousting re-enactment festival which is held here every year.

We will also visit the Pelino factory in Sulmona, where the confetti (sugared almonds) are made. Confetti have been a gift-giving tradition since the end of the 15th century and Sulmona is famous for the sweets. The artistic design and arrangements are a fascinating age-old skill.

After lunch we explore two villages that, like Santo Stefano di Sessanio, have been voted amongst the most beautiful in Italy; Pacentro and Pettorano sul Gizio.

Pacentro has been a mountain retreat since Roman times and in these modern times it is famous for being the home town of Madonna’s grandparents. The majestic towers of Caldora Castle can be seen all the way from Sulmona as we wind our way up the mountain. We will visit Caldora Castle, a surprising church, and also a little house that has remained unchanged for hundreds of years and shows what it was like to live in a village like this before electricity and running water.

Take your time roaming the narrow alleys of Pettorano sul Gizio and enjoy a refreshment in the main piazza with a lovely view of the village below.

On the way back to Roccamorice we will visit the large and prominent Zaccaninni winery.


Anversa degli Abruzzo


Today you will have a truly unique experience! We will accompany the shepherds as they graze their sheep on the fields of the national park, breathe in the pristine alpine air and enjoy the splendid views of the mountains all around. These areas are rich in truffles and we will have a demonstration of how dogs are used to find them hidden beneath the ground, and hopefully we will find some to enjoy with our lunch.

Back at the farm is where the sheep and goats are milked to make first class ricotta and pecorino cheese. It’s quality is so revered, that it is used in the best restaurants in New York and even served at the Whitehouse! We will each get to make our own cheese, learning at the hands of these masters.

We will enjoy lunch in the farm’s own restaurant onsite, where they use only their own or local produce. We will sample the farm’s array of salamis and cheeses. Our favourite is the ricotta lightly smoked with juniper berries. The gnocchi made with wild boar and melted pecorino cheese is an experience in itself!


Scanno > Barrea > Pescocostanzo


Relax in our luxury minibus as we drive you through stunning scenery through the national park to the beautiful villages of Scanno, Barrea and Pescocostanzo.

In Scanno we explore the medieval village and its unique stores and learn about the trade that it is famous for, handmade filigree jewellery. Learn about the presentosa and watch a demonstration using age-old tools. You might find a special piece just for yourself!

Enjoy an aperativo overlooking Lake Barrea before driving back through the beautiful ski-resort village of Pescocostanzo.


Roccamorice > Rome


This morning we will have an easy start to the day and share a coffee and breakfast as we say goodbye to the friends we’ve made and to Abruzzo.

If we are sharing a tour of Sicily together, we will make our way to the train station in Pescara and we are bound for Catania and Mount Etna!

If we are parting today, we will board our minibus for the last time and head back to Fiumicino Airport or Rome Termini Train Station in Rome.

Buon Viaggio!

Abruzzo 8 Day Tour

This is an example itinerary, the composition of your tour is unique and may vary.

8 Day Tour Pricing
from $4,800 AUD per person twin share
from $4,000 USD per person twin share
from €3.200 EUR per person twin share

Single supplement
from $480 AUD
from $400 USD
from €320 EUR

Commences and departs at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport or Rome Termini Train Station.

Airport or train station transfers, transport, accommodation, meals and drinks with meals including table wine, entry fees and activities are all included.

Prices exclude airfares. Land cost only from Rome.

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