Abruzzo or the Abruzzi?
Let's clarify one issue first. Is it Abruzzo or the Abruzzi?
The name Abruzzo comes from the name 'Aprutium', a corruption of 'Praetutium', which means 'the land of the Praetutii'. The Praetutii were an ancient Italic people who lived in the area around present-day Teramo. The geographical area we know today as Abruzzo has had several names throughout history, including the names given to it by the Romans: Samnium and Picenum. It was not until the Middle Ages that the name we now know was used for the area that encompassed present-day Abruzzo and the Molise region. In the 17th century, the region was divided into three provinces: Abruzzo Ulteriore I (today's province of l'Aquila), Abruzzo Ulteriore II (today's province of Teramo) and Abruzzo Citeriore (today's province of Chieti). The designations ulteriore (further away) and citeriore (closer) must be seen from Naples. This division explains why the region is also called the Abruzzi or in Italian gli Abruzzi, a name that we still encounter in place names such as Anversa degli Abruzzi, and Tione degli Abruzzi. In Italian, the region is nowadays only referred to with the singular Abruzzo.
The green heart of Italy
If you were to draw a horizontal and vertical line through the center of Italy, they would intersect in the exact center of Abruzzo. This makes the region in the heart of the country. From Rome it is an hour's drive by car.
There are four provinces in Abruzzo. The province of l'Aquila is located in the mountainous west and covers more than 50% of the total area of the region. The other three provinces are to the east. From north to south they are Teramo, Pescara and Chieti. Each province bears the name of its capital. L'Aquila is also the capital of the region.
The coat of arms of the region (white, green and blue) precisely reflects the landscape: white represents the snowy peaks in the west. Green reflects the grassy plateaus and wooded gorges in the mountains and the hills with vineyards and olive groves east of the mountains. And finally, the blue is a representation of the elongated coast along the clear blue Adriatic Sea.
Abruzzo has no fewer than three national parks: the Gran Sasso-Monti della Laga (1413 km2), the Majella (628 km2) and Abruzzo (496 km2). The fourth major natural park is the Sirente Velino Regional Park (564 km2). By way of comparison: our National Park De Hoge Veluwe covers 55 km2. The highway that goes from Rome to the coast is therefore called 'la strada dei Parchi'. In addition, the region has many smaller nature reserves, including some of the World Wildlife Fund. It is not for nothing that the region calls itself the green region of Europe. It is actually one large nature park with towns and villages in it.
The Mountains, with the highest mountains in Italy outside of Italy, are home to beautiful and rare animals and plants. The slopes are home to popular ski areas and trails for hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders in summer. Centuries-old mighty broad, miles of trails of walking from the coastal plain of Puglia to the mountains in Abruzzo: the routes of the seasonal migration of sheep with their shepherds, which took place twice a year, the transumanza. The multitude of castles, mountain villages and old farms reflect thousands of years of history. And the echo of centuries of religious devotion resounds in the impressive abbeys, silent churches and secluded hermitages. The people are hospitable, respectful and proud of the beauty, history and cuisine of their region. It is neither south nor north Italy. It's Abruzzo.
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