Punta Aderci, in the very heart of a nature reserve
Beaches lapped by a crystal-clear sea in a natural setting of great beauty: this is one of the most striking stretches of coastline on the Adriatic Sea, in Abruzzo, in the protected area of Punta Aderci. Here your holiday is complete, in an interesting mix of seaside relaxation and the discovery of splendid scenery. A varied coastline of sand, pebbles and headlands.
Environmental protection is a major strength
The Punta Aderci protected area, the first to be established along the coast of Abruzzo, stretches 285 hectares from the Port of Vasto to the mouth of the Sinello River. Including the entire outer area, there are a total of 400 hectares of untouched wilderness. Every aspect of the environment is protected. Visitors are therefore urged to respect the flora and every single inch of this magnificent place.
An amphitheatre by the sea
One of the highlights of the reserve is the Punta Penna beach. It can be reached via a terraced path and is a long strip of sand in the shape of an amphitheatre, bordered behind by fascinating dunes. The beach is public and free of charge, making it suitable for everyone, including families with children. The Adriatic, here, is perfectly clear and the seabed is sandy and sloping, ideal for pleasant and safe bathing.
With a stroke of luck, you might experience the thrill of swimming alongside sea turtles or even spot a dolphin in the distance in one of its spectacular leaps. After sunbathing, it is worth visiting the lighthouse. At 70 m high, it is the second tallest in Italy, after the Lanterna in Genoa. So, be patient and climb the 307 steps to the top. The effort is worth it: from up there, the view sweeps over kilometres of coastline and if it's a clear day, you can enjoy an immense panorama, from Ortona to the Gargano.
From beach to beach
Walking along the beach at Punta Penna, a pleasant stroll leads to another enchanted spot: Libertini beach. The fine sand gives way to pebbles, but the seabed remains sandy and shallow, speckled with small rocks.
Legend has it that the name originates from events dating back a century. Apparently, nuns from the nearby convent used to come here to enjoy the sun and fresh air, revealing their legs and arms slightly. Libertine behaviour indeed!
From here, up the steps, you reach the top of the spectacular cliff that protects the beach and then the headland of Punta Aderci, 26 metres above sea level. On the other side of the promontory is another charming little beach. Take a dip here, then continue on to Mottagrossa beach: the atmosphere here is one of perfect peace and quiet.
Along the paths
Starting at the pebble beach of Mottagrossa and ending at the mouth of the Sinello river, the boundary of the reserve, a wilderness area opens up, with 3 kilometres of scenic trails. You can travel on foot or by mountain bike, through cool pine forests, verdant valleys and broad stretches of Mediterranean scrub. It is best to take a map of the trails, which can be provided by the reserve authority. Towards the mouth of the Sinello river, you will come to the brick arches that once marked the route of the railway, and then the path that runs alongside the river begins.
The richness of the fauna and flora
Sea lilies, euphorbia, dune poppies, helichrysum and myrtle are the species that will accompany you during your stops by the sea.
Flamingos, grey herons, egrets, kingfishers, hawks and sparrow hawks fly over the dunes, which can reach a height of 10 metres. If you are a keen birdwatcher, bring along some binoculars to admire the circling birds. The kentish plover has been chosen as the emblem of the reserve, as on the Vasto coast it nests on the beaches, laying its eggs on the ground.
It is small, grey and white, and has a sort of black mask around its eyes and a small round head: you will see it wandering among the dunes in a display that is both tender and exciting. Don't disturb him as he patters about, pecking to feed on the small insects that he loves to eat.
These are very special structures, a kind of stilt-houses used for fishing, typical of the stretch of Middle Adriatic coastline between Ortona and Vasto. Gabriele D'Annunzio, the poet of Abruzzese origin, called them “colossal spiders”. Many have been restored and are dotted along the sea. Some of them have restaurants and offer delicious fish dinners, suspended over the water.