Itineraries & Excursions

Atri : The first certain historical notice of Adria is the establishment of a Roman colony there about 282 BCE. In the early part of the Second Punic War (217 BCE) its territory was ravaged by Hannibal; but notwithstanding this calamity, it was one of the 18 Latin colonies which, in 209 BCE, were faithful to the cause of Rome, and willing to continue their contributions both of men and money. At a later period, according to the Liber de Coloniis, it must have received a fresh colony, probably under Augustus: hence it is termed a Colonia, both by Pliny and in inscriptions. One of these gives it the titles of Colonia Aelia Hadria, whence it would appear that it had been re-established by the emperor Hadrian, whose family was originally derived from hence, though he was himself a native of Spain.

The territory of Adria (ager Adrianus), though subsequently included in Picenum, appears to have originally formed a separate and independent district, bounded on the north by the river Vomanus (Vomano) and on the south by the Matrinus (la Piomba); at the mouth of this latter river was a town bearing the name of Matrinum, which served as the port of Adria; the city itself stood on a hill a few miles inland, on the same site still occupied by the modern Atri, a place of some consideration, with the title of a city, and the see of a bishop. Great part of the circuit of the ancient walls may be still traced and mosaic pavements and other remains of buildings are also preserved. According to the Antonine Itinerary, Adria (which may have been the original terminus of the Via Caecilia) was the point of junction of the Via Salaria and Via Valeria, a circumstance which probably contributed to its importance and flourishing condition under the Roman Empire.

After the fall of Rome, the region was subjected, along with most of northern and central Italy, to a long period of violent conflict. Ultimately, in the 6th century, the Lombards succeeded in establishing hegemony over the area and Atri and other parts of Abruzzo found themselves annexed to the Duchy of Spoleto. The Lombards were displaced by the Normans, whose noble Acquaviva family ruled on the town for decades from about 1393, before merging their lands into the Kingdom of Naples. The rule of the Acquavivas marked the highpoint of Atri's greatest power and splendor.

Castelli: Castelli is a comune in the province of Teramo, Abruzzo, Italy, included in the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park.

The medieval hill town lies beneath Mount Camicia on the eastern side of the Gran Sasso Massif. Castelli is best known for its maiolicas, a form of decorative ceramic, which were collected by the nobility of Europe for centuries and which were at their pinnacle from the 16th through 18th century and are still produced today by local artists. Castelli maiolica was a favorite dinnerware of Russian Tsars. One of the most valued collections of Castelli ceramics is now housed at the Winter Palace of the Hermitage State Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Castelli's main church is San Donato, which holds a maiolica altar-piece by Francesco Grue (1647) and a medieval silver cross of the Sulmona school. Its tiled ceiling is believed to have been decorated by the ceramics master Oracio Pompei or artists working from his studio.

Today, Castelli hosts an art institute and ceramics museum as well as many ceramics shops and studios.

Teramo : Teramo is the ancient Interamnia ( among two rivers) Praetorium. Administrative center of the Province, Teramo is a wonderful city of art. Its glorious past is testified by wonderful monuments that has to be absolutely visited. In the center of the city rises the Dome devoted to Saint Maria Assunta and to Saint Berardo, patron of the city. Numerous are the archeological places that testify the majesty of the city in Roman times, above all under the Adriano Emperor.

Parco nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga : The Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park is a natural park which was established in 1991 mostly settled in Abruzzo, Italy. It has an area of 2,014 square kilometres (778 sq mi) and it is mainly spread out across the province of Teramo, L'Aquila, Pescara and also in minor areas within the province of Rieti and Ascoli Piceno. The terrain is predominantly mountainous.

The park is one of the largest protected areas in Europe, the showpiece being the massif of Gran Sasso, which dominates the surrounding landscape; it rises vertically on the immense pastures of Campo Imperatore. On the east side, from Teramo, there is the majestic "Paretone" which is a part of the central Adriatic landscape. It is the kingdom of perennial snow, rocks and wind. The Calderone lies just beneath the Corno Grande and it is considered to be Europe's southernmost glacier. On the north there is the profile of Monti della Laga chain, where thousands of migratory birds stop on the shores of Lake Campotosto. This area is completely covered by woods of beeches, firs, turkey oaks and chestnuts. There are over 200 kilometres of horse trails that can be used to visit the park, which contains one of the most biologically diverse areas of Europe. The climate is borderline between that of the Mediterranean and that of Europe.

The park contains more than two thousand plant species, some of which are found exclusively in this area, such as Abruzzo Edelweiss, as well as fauna which are equally precious. Many species of wildlife inhabit the park, including rare animals such as the Abruzzo Chamois, as well as wolves, roe deer, wildcats, wild boars, foxes and squirrels. Notable birds include the Golden Eagle, the White-backed Woodpecker, the goshawk, the Common Buzzard and the peregrine. There are also insects, such as the Apollo Butterfly.