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Abruzzo & Molise

Bisected by the spinal Apennine mountains, Abruzzo and Molise make up Italy’s forgotten quarter, blessed more with natural attractions than cultural colossi. A major national-park-building effort in the 1990s created an almost unbroken swath of protected land that stretches from the harsh, isolated Monti della Laga in the north to the round-topped Majella mountains further south.

Dotted in their midst are some of Italy’s most unspoiled mountain villages. Sometimes, a visit here feels like a trip back to the 1950s – a world of wheezing trains, ruined farmhouses and poppy-filled pastures. All this is good news for prospective walkers, who share the region’s ample paths with sheepdogs, mountain goats, abundant bird life and the odd, rarely sighted, human being.

Sulmona is the best base for mountain excursions, Pescara on the Adriatic coast satisfies those with traditional beach urges, while diminutive Molise hides vestiges of the Roman past.

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