Abruzzo, Italy is a region you've probably never heard of, overshadowed by more popular spots like Florence, Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast, and Rome. But make no mistake, Abruzzo is like the wild west of Italy – a beautiful, wild, and largely unexplored area.
Last May, I spent 5 days immersing myself in everything this stunning region has to offer.
Conveniently located just east of Lazio, which encompasses Rome, getting to Abruzzo was a breeze. We started our journey in Tivoli, a picturesque hilltop town. Here, we built our bikes, dined at a Michelin-starred restaurant amidst Roman ruins (because why not), and took a warm-up ride through the hills.
The next morning, we set off for Rocca di Mezzo, a small commune nestled in the rugged Apennines. The trip was an incredible mix of gravel, gravel+, some single track, and tranquil paved roads. Riding through, I couldn't help but think of it as a fairytale ride, as it felt like we were journeying through medieval times from hamlet to hamlet along old dirt paths.
From Rocca di Mezzo, we headed towards Santo Stefano di Sessanio, a recently revived medieval village, now offering authentically elevated accommodations amidst stunning scenery and, as you'd expect in Italy, incredible food. We arrived on cobblestone streets, weaving through narrow alleys to our rooms, which perfectly balanced modern comforts with traditional aesthetics.
The next morning was probably one of the most memorable days and burned in a new core memory for me. Upon departing, we weaved through the mountains to find ourselves approaching Rocca Calascio, the tallest fortress in Italy. The ride up to this relic is where the fairytale idea truly came from. Perched perfectly on top of a mountain, this fortress offered the best vantage point of the surrounding areas. It never ceases to amaze me the amazing architecture you find in what had to have been some of the hardest places to construct.
After leaving this fortress, we continued through one of the three national parks the region boasts, led by our noses to Ristoro Mucciante, an arrosticini restaurant/grill. Arrosticini, if you haven’t experienced it, is probably one of the most fun and best ways to eat. This place is more like a market where you arrive, order your fresh meat, which can be skewered or in the form of lamb pops, and then gather all the accoutrements like cheese, bread, olives, artichokes, beer, wine, whatever you please. Then, you go outside to their charcoal grills and cook your own lunch, seasoning it to taste. This experience will forever be ingrained in my memory as one of the most amazing ones found by two wheels.
The days continued on, weaving our way through the region, drinking their amazing wine, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, and unabashedly devouring pasta, pizza, cheese, and meats.
The trip finished with a stroll through Rome with our close friend and world-renowned archaeologist, Darius Arya. He is the founder of the American Institute of Roman Culture and is a preeminent expert on Roman history and culture. Walking around with him is like having an intimate window into the eternal city.
This trip was something that satisfies all needs for an amazing adventure: unfettered access to wild terrain, outstanding food and beverage, and a culture that is passionate about their quality of life.
I couldn't recommend getting to this region more, and exploring one of the lesser-known corners of Italy, Abruzzo.
Until next time,
Founder & Owner
Get Our Travel Guides
as They’re Released