Zoo d’Abruzzo – located in Rocca San Giovanni
Lanciano – is an ancient town approximately 10 minutes from Rocca San Giovanni. Given the surrounding towns and
villages, it’s quite large and is the commercial hub of the area. What is truly spectacular about the town is its rich art and architecture. It’s also an important religious destination in Italy, as the San Francesco (1258) church hosts the famous Eucharistic Miracle. In addition, there are secret passages to be visited, and an old roman bridge that is truly beautiful. The town hall with a 17th century bell-tower is another delight to see.
In addition, the shopping in Lanciano is extensive with lots of great name brand stores all within the town centre. Couple this with the fine restaurants and bistros, Lanciano has that hip young vibe in a ancient world setting. It is definitely a must see.
Roccascalenga Castle – often referred to as the `Castle in the Sky’, Roccascalenga has an imposing past befitting of it’s appearance. Legend has it that Baron Corvo de Corvis, a cruel and evil man who some say practice in the dark arts, imposed a law of `jus primae noctis’, latin for `the right of first night‘. An old feudal custom he enacted in his mid 40’s, deeply offended the people of the village and enraged the Priest at that time. Not to be undermined, the Baron had the Priest killed at the entrance to the village, serving as an example of what would befall those who likewise protested his laws.
Many years later, on a cold a wintery night, a young bride was brought to him on the night of her wedding for the jus primae noctis. Unable to think of betraying her husband, the bride had a plan. As the Baron lay beside her, she slipped out a knife hidden in her dress, and stabbed him squarely in the heart and ran quickly out of the room and the castle. Clutching his chest, the Baron screamed out a curse to the young bride then reached up to the wall of the bedroom and left his bloody hand print stained on the bedroom wall.
It is said that the crimson hand print remained there until that tower of the castle fell into ruin in January of 1940, taking the bedroom and the hand stain with it. Stories abound, of the hand print, with villagers saying that no matter how many times it was scrubbed away, the blood red stain returned.
No matter what you believe the castle is a must see! A word of caution, it’s not for the faint of heart nor the walking challenged as the hundred or so steps up the mountain side to the castle were carved into the limestone rock centries ago and are now narrowed and well worn.
Casoli – a lovely little town situated at the base of the Majella mountain on one of it’s foothills. The trip up to Casoli is experience all in and of itself. The road circles around the foothill much like a ride at the carnival and as you get closer to the top of the town the roads become narrower and narrow
er – obviously not built in a time when cars or two lane traffic were considered. If you are afraid of heights or driving 2 lanes on a 1 lane capacity only road, park the car at the base and tour the town by foot. There are steps certainly leading all the way up (about 10 streets up to be more precise and more then 100 steps) but I would take the more leisurely route by walking and stopping….. repeatedly
At the very top of the town is the Castello and some amazing views of the mountain and surrounding countryside can be seen.
Golfing – the first golf course built in Abruzzo is the Miglianico Golf Course. The course was designed by one of the most famous architects of American golf, Ronald Kirby. The golf course is also the first course to be managed entirely by a public body (e.g. the City of Miglianico). The course is designed to meet any level, from beginner to professional. The course maintains that due to the moderate climate and proximity to the sea, it is playable 365 days a year.
Horseback Riding – is available throughout the Abruzzo region, may riding clubs are associated with country houses and day long excursions can be booked. However the Miura Club Equestrian Centre Tourism in Ortona offers a variety of horse riding experiences for everyone from the novice to the experienced rider.
Skiing – Abrruzo offers a variety of ski areas with 21 in the region forming a total of 368km of pistes. The best skiing is from January till April.
- Roccaraso is well regarded as being the premier resort. The region (Appennini) also has a well organized cross country skiing tradition and a special guides can be requested from the tourism offices.
The pistes (trails) range from 1650m to 214 m in altitude and are comparable with many Alpine resorts and often have more snow than the Alps. They combine to form 60 km of runs.
For those who find the downhill runs too timid after the Alps, why not try the range of cross country circuits which are usually close by. But remember, the mountains here contain wolves and bears!
- Pescocostanzo is located in the Appennini region and is a small ski resort with just 4 ski lifts ( 1 chair lift, 3 surface lifts) but it does boast a respectable 500 metres (1640 feet) of vertical descent. Pescocostanzo has 6 pistes. Pescocostanzo is best suited to beginner skiers and snowboarders but there is some terrain for both expert and intermediates. Cross country ski trails can be found Pescocostanzo. The nearest train station to Pescocostanzo is at Rivisondoli-Pescocostanzo.
- Palena – On a gentle hill in the Aventino valley, Palena lies at the far end of the Majella, with mounts Porrara and Coccia in the west, and artificial lake Sant’Angelo in the east, and comprises a very rugged territory, overlooking the upper Aventino valley. The name has no certain etymology, though shares the same origin of the ancient name of “palenus” given to the Maiella, mountain sacred to Jupiter palenus. On the route of transhumance, Palena was well-known in past times for its woolwork.
- Campo Felice-Rocca di Cambio in Italy (in the Appennini region) is a large resort with 13 lifts (7 Chair lifts, 6 surface lifts) that offers skiers an impressive 700 metres (2296 feet) of vertical descent. Campo Felice-Rocca di Cambio has 19 pistes with a total length of 30 kilometers (19 miles). Campo Felice-Rocca di Cambio is only really suitable for beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. There are 10 kilometers (6 miles) of cross country ski trails at Campo Felice-Rocca di Cambio. About one quarter of the pistes at Campo Felice-Rocca di Cambio are covered by snowmaking. The nearest airport is at Rome and the nearest train station to Campo Felice-Rocca di Cambio is at L’Aquila.
- Ovindoli is an attractive town in the Apennines, below the Magnolo summit, offering extensive skiing for all abilities to 2223m. Lower down at Ovindoli, the pistes run between the trees and there is extensive snowmaking. The top third of the ski area of Ovindoli is above the tree-line and contains off-piste possibilities in 3 wide bowls.