This year we didn’t go too far for our summer vacations. My partner wanted to spend a few days at the beach while I would rather go for walks in the mountains… We managed to please both of us by choosing the Abruzzo region in central Italy as our destination. When you think of vacations in Italy, Abruzzo doesn’t often come to mind, and mistakenly so… Abruzzo is famous among lovers of less touristy places for its beaches, such as those along the Trabocchi Coast, for the unspoiled nature of two national parks that the region hosts, and of course for the fantastic food.
In this article, I will focus on the most beautiful beaches in Abruzzo, how best to visit them and what to do nearby.
THE BEST BEACHES IN ABRUZZO – THE TRABOCCHI COAST
The region of Abruzzo boasts 170 km of coastline on the Adriatic Sea. In Italy, there are many other regions that are taken by storm in the summertime for their beaches and Abruzzo is not one of them. Visiting Abruzzo’s beaches means enjoying Italy off the beaten path. This means having more space on the beach, finding parking more easily, more guarantees on the quality of services and even saving on accommodation.
We got to know the Trabocchi Coast almost by accident, during a day trip from Rome, which is about 2 and a half hours away by car taking the highway. The beauty of the coastline and the clean sea (all the beaches on the Trabocchi Coast are entitled a “blue flag“) enraptured us, as did the proximity of the mountains of the Maiella National Park. For €350 we rented an apartment for a week 2km from the sea in a tiny village full of vineyards and olive groves and explored the beaches of the Trabocchi Coast.
10 THINGS TO SEE AND DO ON THE TRABOCCHI COAST
Here are some activities we enjoyed on the Trabocchi Coast.
RIDE A BIKE ON THE CYCLE PATH TO EXPLORE THE BEST BEACHES OF ABRUZZO
The bike path or “ciclovia” (cycleway) that stretches 60 km from Ortona to Vasto is one of the most vital social hearts of the Trabocchi Coast. It was built with funds from the European Community as part of a much more extensive bike path that in a fairly unspecified future should connect the Veneto to Puglia regions of Italy.
This is where the locals meet a little before sunset when the sun of summer days drops a little of its intensity. Of course, renting a bike and riding along the bike path is also an ecological and fun way to explore some of the best Abruzzo beaches without parking problems.
You can rent a bike from the shop GUDA on the cycleway at the Cala Cintioni Beach near Marina di San Vito Chietino: a bike for a whole day costs around €25, but you can also rent it for a few hours. The most interesting stretch of coastline is from Marina di San Vito to Marina di Fossacesia.
BEACH OF FOSSACESIA – LIDO SIRENELLA
Among the beaches we have visited along the Trabocchi Coast, this is the one that has remained most impressed. The sea is blue and clean all along the coast, but here, at times when it is perfectly calm like early morning, it is even more crystal clear. This is due to the light color of the sand and the white, smooth, round stones that make up the beach. The beach is wide and it is practically impossible to find it crowded at any time of the day or month of the year.
The beach is bordered in turn by a lovely tree-lined avenue where you can eventually seek some shade and stroll. There are some small bars and restaurants on the beach and parking along the street costs about €3 for a whole day. We reached the beach by car but you can also do it through the bike path.
EAT SEAFOOD IN MARINA DI SAN VITO CHIETINO
One of the reasons we loved our trip to the Trabocchi Coast so much is the great food at affordable prices. Fish is the star of the region. If you go to the so-called “piazzetta” in Marina di San Vito, you’ll find two little fish restaurants, side by side where you can try some of these succulent local dishes, each for €6.
- Chitarrina allo scoglio | Homemade pasta similar to spaghetti seasoned with fish and shellfish
- Stuffed Mussels | Mussels cooked in tomato sauce and stuffed with a tasty mixture of bread and egg
- Stuffed Calamari
- Octopus salad with potatoes
- Mixed fried seafood
Trattoria di Mare La Piazzetta | Address: Via Feltrino, 11, Marina di San Vito Chietino
La Locanda del Mare | Address: Via Feltrino, 30
HAVE BREAKFAST AT PASTICCERIA IEZZI
We were able to have breakfast in our rental apartment until we discovered this cafe, which is very popular in Marina di San Vito. Here we had excellent croissants and other tasty desserts that even made us forget to get ice cream…
Pasticceria Iezzi | Address: Via Nazionale Adriatica, 6
VISIT THE “TRABOCCHI”
The trabocchi are the tilt structures on the sea connected to the mainland by long and narrow walkways that characterize the coast of southern Abruzzo. From the stilts, wooden arms lower into the sea large and thick fishing nets and pull them up loaded with fish.
This was how the fishing was done on the Trabocchi Coast until the middle of the last century, when other more profitable fishing methods became widespread.
It is not known exactly who introduced this ancient technique that was common on the coast of the Adriatic Sea from Marche to Puglia.
The word “trabocco” in Italian could mean the “trabocchetto“, the “trick” that is stretched out to fish or it could also mean “between the holes,” like the piles of pilings that are fixed in the spaces between the rocks.
Italian author Gabriele D’Annunzio spent a lot of time on the Trabocchi Coast, which he says inspired him to write one of his most famous novels. If you want a special view of the coast and these structures, make your way to the Eremo Dannunziano viewpoint.
You can also admire many trabocchi by taking a bike ride or a walk along the bike path.
Many trabocchi have been transformed into fish restaurants. Inside space is limited, so booking is highly recommended. Dinner on the trabocco costs about €30 per head.
STROLL AROUND THE COASTAL TOWN OF ORTONA
Ortona is a small and very ancient town that has been used as a commercial port since the 4th century BC. Today it is also a tourist port.
The city is divided into two parts, one adjacent to the port and one against a hill overlooking the sea. Once the two parts were connected by a funicular, closed in 1943 after the destruction brought by the Battle of Ortona in the Second World War. Today instead of the station in the hillside part of the funicular there is a cultural center that has transformed the spaces into art studios, there is also a cafeteria with many colorful outdoor tables, a cozy place to spend an evening during summer or spring.
Throughout history, the city has been destroyed twice: by fire by the Normans in the 11th century and during World War II.
However, the medieval structure of the city has been preserved, such as the walls of the Aragonese Castle built in the mid-15th century and the 16th century Farnese Palace. The four-story palace houses the Museum of Contemporary Art.
The nicest thing to do in Ortona in the summer is to take a walk along the Eastern Promenade, from which you can enjoy a view of the coast and where you can stop to eat the best ice cream around, or a Sicilian-style granita at the gelateria “Giogoloso“, address: Via Passeggiata Orientale, 28.
SPEND THE DAY AT THE BEACHES IN PUNTA ADERCI
The two beaches, Spiaggia dei Libertini and Spiaggia del Trabocco are two of the most beautiful beaches in Abruzzo and develop to the right and left of the promontory known as “Punta Aderci“, which for some years now has been appointed a protected nature reserve. You cannot reach the beach by car nor transit in front of the beach with motorboats. In particular, they want to protect the birds that breed on the promontory. These beaches are the only ones of the entire Trabocchi Coast included in a natural reserve.
To reach them, you must walk at least 30 minutes in the sun, after leaving the car at the free parking at the entrance of the reserve. There is a free shuttle bus that leaves every half hour from the entrance and reaches both beaches from June to late August.
If you want to spend the day in these beaches, bring everything you need to quench your thirst, have a snack and protect yourself from the intense sun, including a beach umbrella.
ADMIRE MONUMENTS IN THE HISTORIC CENTER OF LANCIANO
Lanciano is one of the richest towns in Abruzzo in terms of history and monuments. The town enjoys a panoramic position that, from the slopes of the Maiella massif, offers breathtaking views of the Trabocchi Coast.
Tradition has it that the city was founded by Solimo, a friend of Trojan Aeneas with the name of Anxanum, which during the Middle Ages began to be pronounced “Lanxanum”.
Among the points of interest to visit in Lanciano:
- The Archaeological Museum, which houses artifacts found at the site of the ancient Roman municipality of Anxanum and in the areas around the city.
- The Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, built in Romanesque style on the ruins of a Temple of Apollo at the beginning of the 13th century. Note the extraordinary portal designed by Francesco Petrini (1317).
- The Church of San Francesco, also known as the Sanctuary of the Eucharistic Miracle, because a monk, in the 8th century, saw the host turn into flesh while celebrating mass. The church overlooks the central square of Lanciano and has a massive bell tower.
- Fontana del borgo | An ancient fountain restored in the 16th century. It has a fountain with six masks of human faces from whose mouth water gushes out and a side washbasin with 12 openings.
TRY THE LOCAL WINES AT A WINERY
The characteristics of the territory of the Trabocchi Coast, scattered with hills sloping down to the sea, protected behind by high mountains, allowed the development of rich fields of vineyards and olive groves.
Cantina San Giacomo in Rocca San Giovanni has been producing organic white and red wines for many years and exports them to Europe, Canada, Australia and the People’s Republic of China.
It is possible to visit the winery by booking an appointment through email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: Contrada Novella 3, Rocca San Giovanni
Dora Sarchese Winery was born from the dream of two passionate walkers,who, haveing come across a “Wine Fountain” along the Camino De Santiago, decided to build one in Abruzzo as well. The winery sells fine wines and bulk wines, hosts parties and has recently realized the Nitae project: wine produced by one thousand Montepulciano d’Abruzzo vines which are cultivated without any mechanical help. The wine is pressed by the feet of customers and friends during a harvest festival held every October and then bottled in special ceramic bottles in which is set a Swarovski crystal.
Address: Contrada Caldari Stazione 65, Ortona.
ESCAPE IN THE MAJELLA NATIONAL PARK
If you feel like alternating your sea and sunbathing at the most beautiful beaches of Abruzzo with walks in the coolest mountain climate, know that the woods and peaks of the Majella National Park are waiting for you just a 45-minute drive from the Trabocchi Coast. With a day trip, you can visit small mountain villages and take nature walks that hide unexpected treasures like the Hermitages of San Bartolomeo and the Hermitage of Santo Spirito. In this area, you can do some of the best hikes of Italy.
Among the extraordinary places,we visited there are also the Orfento Valley and the Cusano Waterfall, both reachable by car plus an hour hike from the town of Roccamorice.
If you pass by Roccamorice, don’t forget to eat some traditional mountain dishes at the restaurant Osteria del Belvedere (address: Via Belvedere, Roccamorice).
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