The Abruzzo is one of Italy's hidden gems. Just a couple of hours from Rome, and 1 hour from Pescara on the east coast, you find yourself in a wild mountainous landscapes dotted with hilltop hamlets, deep forests, turquoise lakes, semi-Alpine peaks and wild flowers which persist right through the summer.
But it's not just the scenery which impresses: the people are among the friendliest in Italy. The food is the kind of hearty, rustic fare - almost always grown within a few miles - that tastes wonderfully wholesome and sets you up for an energetic day of sightseeing.
Linger for half a day in the main towns of L'Aquila (epicentre of a devastating earthquake in 2009, but fast being rebuilt) or Teramo (a provincial capital) and you'll find Renaissance-style palazzi and pretty piazzas with open-air sculptures and bustling markets. The perfect place to try a local speciality like spaghetti alla chitarra (square strands of pasta served with a tomato sauce) or baked scamorza cheese.
Abruzzo has some of the most evocative castles and Roman ruins in Italy. A favourite is
After exploring the interior head to the Adriatic coast - known for its stretch of alluring beaches, crystal clear blue waters, and shingle coves.
With thanks to Giovanni Di Gregorio and to "ste" for their photos