Mountains and Foothills
Marco and Katri will meet you this morning at Termini Train Station in Rome. Together, we will 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 three nights. 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 in this area.
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 for centuries, we will celebrate the beginning of our adventure together over local wine and meals re-created from original recipes.
This morning we are met by our local guide who will take us through the village and speak of the history of Santo Santo Stefano di Sessanio. We will visit the stores to meet the local artisans for a firsthand look at the wonderful crafts and food produced in the area. Most notably are the production honey, farro, chickpeas and a smaller version of brown lentil, for which this region is famous. The production of wool has been an important commodity on the area for thousands of years and we will meet local heros carrying on the traditional way of dying the wool using natural means.
At lunchtime, we will dine in a characteristic restaurant where we will taste the delicious lentil soup, amongst other typical dishes. After lunch, 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.
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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 in the plateau, of Abruzzo’s most famous dish, arrosticini (sheep’s meat skewers) at an old set used to film “Spaghetti Westerns”. 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 meet Marinella and Alessandro at their farm in Castel Del Monte. They will speak with us about their lives on their farm and their struggles to keep their flock and pigs safe from the Abruzzese Wolves. A short drive will take us to their store in the village where we will be served a selection of their salumi and cheeses and local wine.
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Today you will have a truly unique experience! We will wake early, leave the Santo Stefano di Sessanio and the Grand Sasso National Park and drive to Anversa degli Abruzzi, at the doorstep to the National Park of Abruzzo. In Anversa degli Abruzzo, we will be the guests at a Bio-Agritourismo (Bio-organic Farm). We will accompany the shepherds into the fields of the national park, to graze their sheep in the fields, breath in the 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 salumi and cheeses. Our favourite is the ricotta lightly smoked with juniper berries. The gnocchi made with wild boar and melted 12 year aged pecorino cheese is an experience in itself!
Tonight we will stay in our lovely accommodation in Barrea.
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Breakfast at our accommodation in Barrea will be in the garden, with a gorgeous view overlooking the lake. Today, our local guide will share her favorite village in Abruzzo with us, Pescocostanzo. Pescocostanzo is a ski resort village, also bestowed with the title of “I Borghi Piu Belli d’Italia” and is home to many important Renaissance and Baroque monuments. In one of Abruzzo’s most interesting churches, Basilica di Santa Maria del colle, we can see exceptional examples of the marble work that was once an important craft in this village.
This afternoon we will visit a reserve where we will have the chance to see the pack of Apennine Mountain Wolves, who live there.
During our stay in Barrea, we will be able to dine on the trout, caught locally in the mountain water streams.
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Today, we will depart Barrea and drive to the large town of Sulmona. In the spectacular piazza, Piazza Garibaldi, which is overlooked by mountains, we will enjoy the theatrics of the local farmer’s market and check out the local produce, such the renowned platted garlic, called Aglio Rosso di Sulmona.
We will be guided by our local English speaking guide, through the streets with confetti (sugared almonds) on display, and refill our water bottles from the main fountain near the piazza. The water is brought down from the mountains by the Aqueduct that was built back in Roman times.
After we have explored Sulmona, we will make our way to Pacentro. Pacentro has been a mountain retreat since Roman times and more recently, it is known for being the birthplace of (the singer) Madonna’s grandparents. We will visit Caldora Castle, with its towers that give the village its distinct silhouette, and a little house that has remained unchanged for hundreds of years.
In the afternoon we will reach our charming agriturismo accommodation near Roccamorice.
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Today, we will venture into the olive groves and vineyards. We will spend the morning in Loreto Aprutino, a charming hilltop village that is bustling with life. Loreto Aprutino, famous for its exceptional quality extra virgin olive oil, is where Marco and Katri have their home in Italy. Here, we will visit a museum to see the most extensive collection of Castelli Ceramics, and a centuries old fantoio (olive oil factory) with a distinct gothic facade.
During the month of October, we will travel just out of town to visit a local frantoio, to see how olives are collected and pressed to make olive oil. If you are like us, you will find the aroma intoxicating!
We will eat lunch like real locals today, by enjoying incredibly delicious porchetta panini, a type of sandwich made with crusty bread and filled with slow-roasted pork, flavoured with herbs and spices, from a local vendor in the main piazza.
This afternoon will be spent as afternoons should, sipping wine at a local winery. We will learn about the production of the typical wines: Trebbiano D’Abruzzo, Pecorino and the renowned red wine, Montepulciano, explore the grounds and taste some exceptional examples of of these varieties.
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This morning we will have time to pack, 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 Rome Termini Train Station in Rome.
Note: This is an example itinerary, the composition of your tour is unique and may vary.
8 Day Tour Pricing
from $4,500 AUD per person twin share
from $3,750 USD per person twin share
from €3.000 EUR per person twin share
from $450 AUD
from $385 USD
from €300 EUR
Commences and departs at Rome Termini Train Station.
Inclusions: Fully escorted tour, local English speaking tour guides, bus/train station transfers, private air conditioned minibus/van, charming and well appointed accommodations, all meals and drinks with meals including table wine, entry fees and activities.
Prices exclude airfares.