The Province of L'Aquila is in the heart of Abruzzo, surrounded by the Provinces of Teramo (north), Pescara and Chieti (east), Molise (southeast) and Lazio (west).
The Province of L'Aquila, the largest of the four provinces of Abruzzo, is the only one with no access to the sea. Due to its dimensions, it presents a great variety of customs and traditions, history and dialects, but an underlying thread runs ever through them. Because of such diversity, the people of Avezzano and Sulmona have long expressed their desire for independent provincehood.
The territory of L'Aquila is the Region's most mountainous, and the most absorbed in its charming landscapes, plunged into the silence of its cities and picturesque villages clinging on mountains or lying on tablelands and valleys. The visitor is enchanted by a succession of images that mutate with the natural surroundings.
The history of the Province is the history of the region, apart from its peculiar religious history in the 15th Century, when the first Franciscan Saints appeared in l'Aquila. Modernity did not damage the cities of Abbruzzo until the earthquake of April 2009, when L'Aquila, situated in the center of the Aterno Valley and dominated by the Gran Sasso mountain, was almost completely destroyed. At present, restoration is in progress. The Province preserves significant natural endowments, including the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park, the oldest park in Italy.
Among the Province's 108 comunes, 13 are counted as the "Most beautiful villages in Italy": Castel di Monte and Navelli are just two of them.
Beyond the Abruzzo National Park, the L'Aquila Province boasts several natural treasures, such as part of the Maiella National Park, with Mount Amaro (9, 170 ft), the second-tallest mountain in the Apennine Range; and the Sirente-Velino Regional Park, with the Aterno River, regarded as the coldest in Italy. Finally, the "Zompo lo Schioppo" Natural Reserve boasts the most enchanting waterfall in the Apennines.
The city of L'Aquila, also known as the Florence of Abruzzo or the Salzburg of Italy, is determined to quickly recover from the 2009 earthquake: security and restoration of buildings and monuments began immediately after the tragedy.
Sulmona, hometown of the Latin poet Ovid, is bursting with monuments and artworks, as well as a thriving artians industry and its famous confetti (sugared almond confections).
Castel di Sangro, in the Province's very south, is dominated by the Collegiata dell'Assunta, a little 13th-Century architectonic jewel with two - one Romanesque, the other from the Renaissance - entrances. Tagliacotto, on the slopes of Mount Bove, is well-known for its ancient noble residences.
The territory of L'Aquila is dotted with ruins of ancient pagan temples and Roman settlements connoting ancient religious traditions, such as the many Benedictine monumental complexes of the Romanesque age: the Church of San Pietro in Alba Fucens, built on the ruins of a pagan temple and with its characteristic, 13th-Century mosaics; the Church of Santa Maria in Valle Porclaneta, in Rosciolo and at the foot of Mount Velino; the Santa Maria and San Pellegrino monumental complex in Bominaco, on the Navelli plateau. The Cathedral of San Pelino in Corfino is also sightworthy.
The beauty of art perfectly merges with the beauty of the valleys, mountains and tablelands. Don't miss the plateaus of Campo Imperatore del Gran Sasso, a few miles from L'Aquila, and the Tableland of Velino-Sirente.
Finally, the town of Scanno is a sight to see, with its lake and the famous Sagittario and Aterno gullets.
The Province of L'Aquila attracts tourists from all over the world thanks to its landscapes and artistic beauties.
Those who love nature should not pass up a visit to the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park to discover the different animal species saved from extinction: the Apennine wolf, the Abruzzo chamois – the so-called Rupricapra Ornata (a type of goat-antelope or caprdi), considered the most beautiful in the world – and the Marsican brown bear, all making for an awesome opportunity to take up a bit of nature photography.
L'Aquila and Avezzano offer numerous museums, and you can see Roman ruins in Corfinio and Alba Fucens, as well as an intriguing castle and museum in Celano. If you explore a little more, you'll stumble upon the sanctuaries, charming piazzas and borgoes of Tagliacozzo and Scurcola Marsicana, history-rich towns steeped in tales of the Swabian-Angevin and in the signs of the Ecclesiastical orders that dominated the social and political life of Medieval L'Aquila.
The most common sport is skiing, both cross-country and downhill skiing. Campo di Giove, Campo Felice, Campo Imperatore, Ovindoli and Scanno are the most famous ski resorts in the Region.
Thanks to its dimensions and richness, the Province of L'Aquila is the perfect destination for trekking, jogging and horseback riding. Many tourists love to cycle or mountain-bike along the valleys and slopes of the countryside. Experts scour the woods searching for epigeal mushrooms and truffles cooked on the spot.
The Province of L'Aquila often organizes open-air celebrations and folk festivals, typical and characteristic occasions that recall the old traditions and offer the possibility to taste traditional local products.
The typical products of L'Aquila speak of rural flavors, such as the white and summer scorsone truffle and pork sausages. A traditional dish is the lamb incaporchiato (covered). Historically, people ate meat only on special occasions, thus farmers cooked the lamb in a pot covered by another pot, and without spices or aromatic herbs so as not to arouse their neighbors' curiosities. While times have changed, the recipe hasn't.
One of the bases of traditional cooking is cheese, particularly pecorino cheese and marcetto, a riper pecorino fermented with milk. Since it is forbidden to sell marcetto in shops it is only made in private homes for family consumption.
Among the most famous spices of Abruzzo, do not miss out on L'Aquila's saffron.
Other typical dishes of L'Aquila are: maccheroni alla chitarra, gnocchetti with cheese and eggs, roast lamb, kid, and lamb with cheese and eggs.
The typical wines of the Province are the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and the Trebbiano d'Abruzzo.
And the most famous sweets are the confetti of Sulmona, the Ferratelle (sweet wafers with eggs and anise), the Castagnaccio and the typical chocolate torrone, from L'Aquila.