Abruzzo - The mountainous region


Abruzzo is one of the 20 italian regions. It is in central Italy. It faces east on the Adriatic Sea and bordering Marche to the north, Lazio to the west and Molise to the south. It is divided into the provinces of Chieti, L'Aquila, Pescara and Teramo, the regional capital is L'Aquila. The region was once called the plural (Abruzzi) because it included three administrative subdivisions, but the subsequent dominance of the principle of regional unity has also led to the current use of the singular. About the origin of the name Abruzzo not all scholars agree, from the more is done Aprutium derive from an ancient Lombard duchy roughly corresponding to today's province of Teramo. The Abruzzo region, which has an area of ​​10,795 km2 and has a population of about 1,326,000 inhabitants, it is relatively small and sparsely populated, the density is well below the national average (117 inhabitants per km2 versus 190). The physical limits are well defined to the north by the river Tronto, on the south by the river Trigno and west by the mighty chain of the Apennines of Abruzzo.


Like the neighboring Marche, Abruzzo also has plains, but, while the Marche region is hilly, the Abruzzo is mostly mountainous (over two thirds). No other region of peninsular reaches such high values ​​of mountainous. The morphological complexity is relevant. The region can, however, be divided into two distinct areas: inland Abruzzo, which belongs to the skeleton and the central main Italian peninsula, from limestone peaks steep and high and massive enclosing vast basins, and Abruzzo outside, from soft hills, interrupted by gravel beds of rivers, gradually slope down to the sandy coast. The Apennine system manifests itself in Abruzzo with its more imposing, and there is also present, in contrast to what typically occurs in the surrounding regions, evident traces of glacial modelling. The findings follow three lines roughly parallel, north-west to south-east alignment most powerful is the one facing the Adriatic Sea, in turn divided into three groups of mountains. It begins with the group of the Laga mountains (Mount Gorzano 2455 m) on the border with the Marche and Lazio, here the pace of Montereale (1015 m), which separates the valley of the Velino river (a tributary of the Tiber and then the Tyrrhenian Sea) from the Aterno-Pescara, Abruzzo main river marks the boundary between the Umbria-Marche Apennines and the Apennines of Abruzzo.


Continuing south, beyond the marked depression above the river Vomano, stands the imposing Gran Sasso of Italy, a very appropriate name for this mountain range, the highest and extended the Apennines, which reaches 2,912 m height in the top of the Big Horn (whose slopes welcome the small Calderone glacier, the only one in the whole Apennines). Finally, almost equally impressive, is the southernmost massive external alignment, the Maiella (Monte Amaro, 2795 m). The Aterno valley, which follows a marked depression and which is the geographical heart of the Abruzzo mountains (Aquilana Conca, Conca of Sulmona), separates the alignment of the outer beam from central mountainous, it includes Mount Velino (2,487 m ), on the border with Lazio, the most isolated Sirente mountain (2349 m) and an imposing massif, the mountains of Meta (Petroso mountain, 2247 m) on their side of the Bocca di Forlì (998 m) is conventionally referred to as the boundary between the central Apennines and Southern Apennines. Another basin, that of Fucino, finally marks the transition to the third alignment mountainous, the innermost of the Abruzzi Apennines and fragmented; extends to the border with Lazio and includes short chain Simbruini, which slightly exceeds the 2,000 m. Vast and arid plains, often littered with rock debris, extend between massive and solid, even at high altitudes (to Campo Imperatore, for example, in the Gran Sasso, is about 1800 m). The Conca del Fucino was originally occupied by a large lake (had an area of ​​155 km2 and was then the largest of the Italian peninsula) it was completely dried up in the second half of the nineteenth century, and the territory was gradually converted to agriculture and settlements.


Widespread throughout the mountainous Abruzzo are the karst phenomena. Impressive are the underground karst events, witnessed by an extensive resurgent movement of water and the presence of numerous caves.


Completely different instead morphology of the hills, which is attenuated near the coast. We have triumphed clay soils and sandstone-marl, inconsistent, easily eroded by water and just as prone to landslides; therefore have rounded shapes, stretched out, in stark contrast to the harshness of the Apennines, although the slopes are nicked by the thick incisions of gullies, locally called “scrimoni.” The coast, low and uniform, about 170 km long, sandy beaches almost everywhere rather narrow, with an average width varying from 50 to 100 m, interrupted by the mouths of rivers. The rivers are influenced in their course, by the fact that the line of watershed of the Abruzzo region does not correspond to the most impressive reliefs which, as has been said, are those close to the Adriatic. Therefore barred from the mountains of Laga, Gran Sasso, the Maiella, they play a large part of their course at the foot of these hills, and then in direct parallel valleys to the coast. The circulation of groundwater, which has already been mentioned, plays a very important hydrographic role, because of the many springs balance (or make it less erratic) the system of waterways, which in other regions of central Apennines are generally only streams. The rivers of the region are numerous but short, among those that directly affect the Abruzzo, the main ones are the Sangro (117 km), part of which runs at the foot of the mountains of Meta, then through the entire hill south Maiella, and especially the Pescara (which is 145 km long and has a catchment area of ​​3188 km2 well, which is rather high for a river in peninsular Italy). It was born with the name of Aterno the mountains of Laga crosses the entire Conca Aquilana, where bathes the city of L'Aquila, carrying out a long path that follows the inner slope of the Gran Sasso, received its largest tributary, the Sagittario, assumes the name of Pescara, finally crossing the Apennines with a narrow gorge and to the Adriatic Sea at the town of the same name.


Insufficient lakes of a certain size, after the draining of the Fucino, however, is interesting, in southern Abruzzo, the small lake Scanno (1 km2), because it is among the most remarkable examples in Italy of the lake basin formed as a natural barrier, following the fall of a landslide from Mount Genzana. Instead it is the largest artificial lake Campotosto (14 km2), made with the damming of the river Fucino.

Climate and environment

The altitude so markedly differentiated, the opening to the Adriatic Sea, the powerful alignment of the outer Apennine mountains, which form a real barrier to the movement of air masses coming from the west, ensure that you have in Abruzzo two different weather situations. The east end, by the weak increases hills, is typically Mediterranean, with hot summers and warm winters in general (although the Adriatic, which is a shallow sea, mitigate temperatures, at the same latitude, less the Tyrrhenian Sea). The mountain section presents hot summers but very cold winter temperatures. In fact, the average summer resort on the Adriatic have 24 ° C, and Scanno, at 1050 meters above sea level, in the Conca Aquilana, reaches 20 ° C. Much more pronounced are the differences between the mean winter around 8 ° C on the coast and around the 0 ° C to a thousand meters above sea level (-5 ° C to Campo Imperatore). The dam exercised by the findings also affects precipitation. These come mainly from the Tyrrhenian Sea, at the westernmost end of the Apennine chain by Simbruini to the mountains of Meta, you have up to 2000 mm of annual rainfall, which descend to 1,500 on the mountains further east. The rainfall is frequently snowy and give rise to a rather prolonged snow: for example, in the Gran Sasso massif takes about two months for just 1000 m above sea level, while all year long on the Corno Grande. Drier (with precipitation which are around 1000 mm per year, but also lower) are the internal basins: in Avezzano the values ​​decreased to 800 mm. However, the minimum rainfall are uniform throughout the band maritime and are around 600 mm per year. The rainfall recorded anywhere up in November-December, and a minimum summer, usually in July.


The region includes some of the most interesting environments Apennines and in good measure has taken steps to protect them. Date to 1923 the establishment of the national park of Abruzzo (although the active protection measures are much more recent) in 1991 was established the National Park of Gran Sasso-Monti della Laga (shared by Lazio and Marche) and the regional park of the Maiella, which must be added the natural park Velino-Sirente. In fact the interest is growing in Abruzzo for tourism development in mountain areas, for a long time neglected in favour of the coastal ones.

Flora and fauna

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Even the vegetable mantle shows clear differences between the Abruzzo Apennines, which is still the best-preserved area, and the hill, where the crops have profoundly altered the original landscape. However, despite the profound transformations undergone by the environment, the region retains a vegetation of particular interest. Not so in the coastal area, where only a few remaining strip of the Mediterranean (mastic, myrtle, heather) resists the advances of crops and settlements (the pine forests that dot the coast at times have been planted by man); equally scarce are, on the hills, the office hours of the vast oak forests that once covered the slopes facing the Adriatic. But already in the basins, which at low and medium altitudes are widely cultivated, the landscapes are done characteristic. For example, quite unexpectedly grow there typical Mediterranean species, including the olive and almond trees, interspersed with oaks. At higher altitudes the forest is the most widespread of beech trees (sometimes mixed with the rarest white fir), which from 1000 to 1100 m above sea level goes up to 1800-1900 m. On the Apennine areas of high altitude, above 2000 m, it is widely known as the “prairie pseudoalpina,” which here includes many species very rare if not unique: the edelweiss of Abruzzo (Leontopodium snow), the alpine orchid, called slipper Madonna (Cypripedium calceolus), and other species typical of the Alpine (mountain juniper, bilberry etc..). Also for the natural fauna, although it has been greatly reduced by man, Abruzzo is a region of particular interest. It is argued that represents the extreme southern limit of some species typical of northern environments, come so far with the ice ages, and who would later partially modified to adapt to changing climatic conditions. The most representative example is undoubtedly the brown bear saved from extinction in the Abruzzo National Park, as well as the chamois. Many are the wolves, foxes, wild cats, otters, etc.. Among the many species of birds, overlooking the majestic golden eagle.


Abruzzo has recently made significant progress in the economic field, but it ranks well below other regions of central Italy, and to a level below the national average. Additional data (for example, the profitability of the agricultural sector, or the index of consumption) lead to define in terms of production Abruzzo as the poorest area of ​​central Italy, although significantly above the south. Despite the positive changes of recent decades - the development of tourism, increased industrialisation, greater rationalisation in the agricultural techniques - have led to an accentuation of differences as a counterpart that has long distinguished the two subregions, without being able to resolve them. On the one hand there is the Abruzzo coastal and sub-Apennine, most populous, rich and dynamic, with a small metropolis, Pescara, Chieti conurbation with its neighbour, and on the other side, beyond the rampart formed by the Gran Sasso and the Maiella, there Abruzzo is the internal, historically, culturally and artistically important, with the regional capital, L'Aquila, that is hard, however, to retain its inhabitants and is economically depressed area.


Even by number of employees in the agricultural sector - higher than the national average, but lower than that of southern Italy - Abruzzo confirms its position intermediate between the Centre and the South only in a few areas the soils are suitable for cultivation, in the hollows internal prevails extensive cereal (with some areas of intensive horticulture in the plains of Fucino and Sulmona; in Aquilana of the Basin there is the production of saffron), combined with the cultivation of potatoes and sugar beet, while in the plains and hilly outer bands were successfully developed the most profitable crops of olive, fruit trees and vines, also with production of quality wines.


On the decline, but still quite important, is pastoralism, the ancient activity, best suited to the mountain pastures of the region, carried out a time with the practice of transhumance, which consisted in transferring the flocks from summer pastures in the highlands of Abruzzo in the winter of the plains even in the lowlands of Puglia or in the countryside of Lazio, following ancient tracks.


The industrial sector is lacking. The big propulsive factory is missing, while many companies are relatively small and medium-sized, mostly concentrated on the coast, with the exception of the food sector, more wide spread in the area. We have mainly textile, apparel, food and mechanical, it is still relevant and of good quality crafts work (lace, rugs, pottery, wrought iron).

Tertiary activities

In the service sector, tourism registered a significant increase: bathing (with several locations already known and widely popular as Silvi Marina, Roseto degli Abruzzi, Giulianova, all in the province of Teramo), and hiking and natural, practiced primarily in the Abruzzo National Park (whose main center is Pescasseroli, in the province of L'Aquila), and finally the one related to winter sports: Abruzzo is in fact the Apennine region with most of the resorts, especially for cross-country skiing (Campo Felice, Campo Imperatore, Ovindoli, Roccaraso, Rivisondoli etc..). The network of roads, here and there that understaffed and therefore serves predominantly the coastal strip, is a further element of separation between the inner and gravitating Abruzzo coast. Here they run the railroad, major roads and highways (Rimini-Pescara, Pescara-Bari-Taranto), ensuring easy connections with the regions of the Adriatic, either north or south. The real difficulty morphological contributed to isolation, often secular, many inland areas and, to some extent, the same regional capital (Aquila is linked by highway to Rome, but not with the Abruzzo coast). The most favored by the center lines of communication is Pescara. In addition to the trans-railway from the city is headed in Rome, a fitting connects the motorway Rome-Aquila.

Population and cities

After recording for several decades (from the fifties to the eighties) a strong exodus, the population is now stationary, even a slight rise. The improved economic conditions have resulted in a returning back of a number of immigrants from Abruzzo. If the entire region, with 117 inhabitants per km2, an average density is well below the national average, the differences between the areas, determined by the poverty and isolation, they are even more salient. It does not affect much the demographic diversity among the capitals (the same Pescara has only 120,000 inhabitants, while L'Aquila does not reach 70,000), as the density of the provinces. In Abruzzo urbanisation is a phenomenon not very common and the population is concentrated in small isolated centers, generally with an average below 10,000 inhabitants. Lower density is found in Aquila area (60 inhabitants per km2), but must also take into account the vastness of the province, amounting to half the area of ​​the entire region, and about 150 inhabitants per km2 are logged in Teramese and in the Chieti, while the the province of Pescara reaches 238. Among the non-capital centers, remember Avezzano, small “capital” agricultural and commercial Fucino, and Lanciano (graphic and textile industries), in the province of Chieti. This city, located a short distance from Pescara, with the latter form a small conurbation that is now the heart of the most dynamic regional section gravitating on the coast.


In the region there is evidence of human presence since the Lower Paleolithic, with important prehistoric sites to the Madonna del Freddo and Zannini Terrace, near Chieti, along the valley of the river Foro and above the site of the Fortresses of Peoples, in the basin Peligna. Some mines located in the latter made it possible to reconstruct the various stages of human Paleolithic in Abruzzo. For the neolithic period the most significant traces come from the village of Ortucchio in Fucino, where we find the first social organisations based on farming and fishing and, to a lesser extent, on the hunt. During the protohistoric a thriving civilisation took root, called Piceno, whose radius of influence extended to the south, to the border with Puglia, and inland to the mountainous area: the famous statue of a warrior, preserved in the museum of Chieti, is an expression of exemplary. At the dawn of history Abruzzo had a variety of people of different origins and among themselves divided into tribes. The Vestini, the Marsi, the Marruccini, the Equi, the Samnites were the most significant local populations, soon under the pressure of Rome and therefore subdued in the fourth century BC, but definitely only Romanized dawn of the Christian era. In the Augustan division of Italy, Abruzzo was part of the Regio IV, called Sabina et Sannium, this was the premise for the final entry in the system of Rome, sanctioned by the granting of citizenship (in first half of the first century AD). The Via Valeria was the main connecting route between the region and Rome, and it was added a network of coastal roads and transverse. The Lombards, who conquered the region, annexed the Duchy of Spoleto, when it was conquered by the Franks, was erected in the independent committee of the Marsi, or Marsyas, based in Celano. From 1140 he began the rule of the Normans, to whom we owe the embodiment of Abruzzo to the Kingdom of Sicily, maintained by the next dynasty of Svevia. A Tagliacozzo took place in 1268, the decisive battle, marking the defeat of Conradin, the Abruzzo assured to the Angevins, who joined him as a province of the Kingdom of Naples. Of the major events that involved this state, the Abruzzo lived alternations of regimes: the Aragonese domination first, then the Spanish, lasting from the beginning of the sixteenth century to 1707, the short stretch of the Austrian Government, and the Bourbon kingdom, between 1734 and the unification of Italy, except for the brief Napoleonic period. The modern age did not record sensitive cultural and economic progress of the region, which remained on the margins of life of the kingdom, with a production system centered on farming and urban centers with more prominent, L'Aquila and Chieti, overshadowed by the pre-eminence of Naples . After the unification, in Abruzzo work began drying up of Lake Fucino, who opened a vast and fertile agricultural land. The region was demographically impoverished by the great emigration to America in the late nineteenth century, which, in the Second World War, followed by a new exodus of peasants and mountain populations and direct in the northern areas of Italy and in northern European countries. The phenomenon was interrupted in the seventies, when it began to feel the signs of development arising from industrial and commercial area of ​​Pescara and the increase in coastal tourism.

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