Abruzzo (pronounced [a'bruttso]) is a region in Italy, its western border lying less than 50 miles (80 km) due east of Rome. Abruzzo borders the region of Marche to the north, Lazio to the west and south-west, Molise to the south-east, and the Adriatic Sea to the east. Although it is geographically more of a central than southern region, ISTAT (the Italian statistical authority) considers it part of Southern Italy, a vestige of Abruzzo's historic association with the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
The region is situated at the centre of the Italian peninsula facing the Adriatic, which it follows along 150 km of beaches and rocks. With an area of 10,763 km2 (4,156 sq mi), and bordered on the east by the Adriatic and on the west by the Apennines, it is one of the most mountainous regions in Italy (the Corno Grande in the Gran Sasso massif, at 2,914 m (9,560.37 ft), is the highest summit in the Apennines).
The Abruzzo region has two types of climate: the first is strongly influenced by the presence of Abruzzo's Apennine Mountain range-Central, dividing the climate of the coastal and sub-Apennine hills of the interior mountain ranges of the highest; while coastal areas have a Mediterranean climate with hot and dry summers and mild winters and rainy hills presenting the climatic characteristics of type sublittoral where temperatures decrease progressively with increasing altitude and precipitation with altitude instead. Precipitation also strongly affected by the presence of the Apennine mountain ridges of the region increases with the proportion being more abundant in the field and on the slopes exposed to the west, instead of decreasing towards the east and east-facing slopes. Often the Adriatic coast are sidelined rainfall from the west to the barrier effect of the Apennines undergoing the action of gentle winds descending from it (or Libeccio Garbino). The minimum annual rainfall, however, are found in some inland valleys, sheltered from much disturbance to the blocking action of mountain ridges, such as the Valley Peligna, or the valley of the river Tirino, which in some places (Ofena, Capistrano) showed barely 500 mm, and not along the coast where it never falls below 600 mm, for if the Teramo is relatively little watered by rain (Teramo less than 800 mm), the meter is exceeded in Chieti, reaching maximum levels in the Adriatic, while between Ortona and Vasto in Costa Trabocchi decrease again. The highest rainfall is found instead in upland places on the border with Lazio, are especially vulnerable to disturbances Atlantic, and are around 1500–2000 mm (Pescara in 2010 showed a value close to 2800 mm).
As with many Mediterranean regions, Abruzzo's vegetation is characterized by the presence of different Mediterranean ecosystems. The coast and the surrounding areas are characterized by the presence of typical plants of Mediterranean shrubland, such as myrtle, heather and mastic, while in the hilly areas other species grow, including olive, pine, willow, oak, poplar, alder, arbutus, broom, acacia, capers, rosemary, hawthorn, licorice and almond trees, interspersed with oak trees. Between 600 and 1,000 metres of altitude there is sub-montane vegetation, mainly characterized by mixed forests of oak and turkey oak, maple and hornbeam; shrubs include dog rose and red juniper. The altitudes between 1000 and 1900 m are dominated by beech trees. In the Apennines mountain are, above 2000 metres of altitude, species include alpine orchid, mountain juniper, silver fir, black cranberry and the Abruzzo edelweiss.
Natural environment and conservation
As with many Mediterranean regions, Abruzzo's vegetation is characterized by the presence of different Mediterranean ecosystems; the coast and the surrounding areas are remarkable for the presence of typical Mediterranean plants such as myrtle, heather and mastic, but in hilly areas other typical Mediterranean species will also grow, including olive, pine, willow, oak, poplar, alder, arbutus, broom, acacia, capers, rosemary, hawthorn, licorice and almond trees, interspersed with oak trees. Between 600 and 1,000 metres of altitude spans submontane vegetation, mainly characterized by mixed forests of Cerro, Oak, Maple and Hornbeam; very common among the shrubs are, specifically, Rosa Canina and Red Juniper. Between 1000 and 1900 metres of altitude, there appears a great deal of beech tress. has spread a lot of the beech. Higher still in the Apennines, above 2000 metres of altitude, we find the presence of the orchid species like alpine, mountain juniper, cranberry black and finally a unique species, perhaps as Edelweiss Abruzzo. To learn more, see the entries Abruzzo Chamois, Brown Bear and Marsicano Shepherd Maremma-Abruzzese. The fauna of Abruzzo are highly varied, and the animal symbol of the region is undoubtedly the Abruzzo Chamois that has had a remarkable recovery after risking extinction. Another animal typical of this region is the Marsicano Brown Bear, along with wolves, deer, lynx, roe deer, snow vole, fox, porcupine, wild cat, wild boar, badger, otters and vipers.
The natural parks of the region include the Abruzzo National Park, the National Park of Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga, the National Park Maiella and Sirente Velino which every year attract thousands of visitors due to their nature and rare species of wildlife such as Abruzzo chamois; also the region boasts many natural reserves and areas protect.
One third of the region is designated as national or regional parkland. The following parks lie, wholly or partially, within Abruzzo:
Abruzzo National Park
Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park
Majella National Park
Sirente Velino Regional Park
Lago di Barrea (Barrea Lake Wetlands)
The protected areas are environmentally unique and home to rare flora and fauna, such as the brown bear, the wolf and the chamois.
In Abruzzo the mountains have a variety of plants. Lower down on the slopes there are woods of oak, maple and ash. Further up, at about 1,000 metres, the forest becomes beech and mountain maple. Above 1700 metres, there are thick shrubs and pines. There are many wildflowers in the mountains, including Aquilegia of Majella.
Elsewhere in Abruzzo there are forests of beech and maple. There are two forests , Selva di Cortino and Bosco Martese, of white fir trees. Forest understorey in Abruzzo is thick with anemone, ranunculi, red lilies and martagons, belladonna, raspberry bushes and different species of wild orchids.
Humans have inhabited Abruzzo since Neolithic times. A skeleton from Lama dei Peligni in the province of Chieti has been radiometrically dated to 6,540 bp. The name Abruzzo appears to derive from the Latin "Aprutium", although in Roman times the region was known at various times as Picenum, Sabina et Samnium, Flaminia et Picenum and/or Campania et Samnium. This region was known as Aprutium in the Middle Ages arising from four possible sources. Many think it is apparently a corruption of Praetutium, or rather of the name of the people Praetutii, applied to their chief city, Interamnaes, now present day Teramo.
Until 1963 it was part of the Abruzzi region with Molise. The term Abruzzi derives from the time when the region was part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the territory was administered as Abruzzo Citeriore (Nearer Abruzzo) and Abruzzo Ulteriore I and II (Farther Abruzzo I and II ), that being nearer and farther from Naples, the capital of the kingdom. Abruzzo Citeriore is present day Chieti province. Abruzzo Ulteriore I comprised the Teramo and Pescara provinces; Abruzzo Ulteriore II is now the Province of L'Aquila. In this province is found the city of CORFINIO (known as CORFINIUM in ancient Italy), the chief city of the Paeligni, 7 m. N. of Sulmona in the valley of the Aternus. The site of the original town is occupied by the village of Pentima. It probably became subject to Rome in the 4th century BC, though it does not appear in Roman history before the Social War (90 BC), in which it was at first adopted by the allies as the capital and seat of government. It appears also as a fortress of importance in the Civil War, though it resisted Caesar's attack for a week (49 BC). These people were honored by Caesar as citizens of Rome. It is said that the name "Italia" came from this region because of ancient coins that have been found here that date from about the 1st century BC. These coins have the name "Italia" on them and are apparently proof of this fact. This theory of the origin of the name "Italia" is debated by scholars, archaeologists and history itself. There is much consensus however that the name "Italia" was originally given to the region of modern Calabria by the ancient Greeks during their foundation of Magna Graecia (Greater Greece) in southern Italy around the 8th century BC. It is also said by the Italian Government that Calabria was once called "Italia" by the ancient Greeks in honour of its inhabitants who were known as the "Itali". This occurred hundreds of years before the coins of Corfinio (Corfinium) were apparently minted. The late archaeologist Massimo Pallottino also claimed that the name was derived from the Italic tribes that settled in modern Calabria. But it was not until the time of the Roman conquests that the term was expanded to cover the entire peninsula.
Until a few decades ago, Abruzzo was a region of poverty in Southern Italy; over the past decades, however, it has developed to such an extent that it has escaped from the spiral of underdevelopment to become the 'first' region of the 'Italian Mezzogiorno'. This confirms its pivotal role in the national economic system. Since the 1950s, Abruzzo has had steady economic growth. In 1951, Abruzzo per capita income or GDP was 53% of that of Northern Italy, the nation's richest region. By 1971, Abruzzo was at 65% and, by 1994, per capita income was at 76% of Northern Italy's per capita income, giving Abruzzo the highest per capita GDP of Southern Italy and surpassing the growth of every other region of Italy. The construction of superhighways from Rome to Teramo (A24) and Rome to Pescara (A25) opened Abruzzo to easy access, state and private investment in the region increased, and Abruzzo attained higher per capita education levels and greater productivity growth than the rest of the South. As of 2003, Abruzzo's per capita GDP was €19,506 or 84% of the national average of €23,181 and well outpacing that of the South (€15,808). As of 2006, the region's average GDP per capita was approximately 20,100 EUR.
The 2009 L'Aquila earthquake led to a sharp economic slowdown. However, according to statistics at the end of 2010, it seems that the economy of Abruzzo is recovering, despite the negative data regarding employment. In fact, at the end of 2010, Abruzzo's growth was 1.47%, which placed it fourth among the Italian regions with the highest annual growth rates after Lazio, Lombardy and Calabria. In 2011 Abruzzo's economic growth was +2.3%, with highest percentage among the regions of Southern Italy. The region is also the richest region of Southern Italy, with a GDP per capita higher than any other region of southern Italy (€21,574).
Abruzzo's industrial sector expanded rapidly, especially in mechanical engineering, transportation equipment and telecommunications. The structure of production in the region reflects the transformation of the economy from agriculture to industry and services. Although industry has developed strongly, it retains weak points due to the existence of only a few large businesses alongside a huge fabric of small and medium-sized businesses. Both pure and applied research are carried out in the region, where there are major institutes and factories involved in research in the fields of pharmaceutics, biomedicine, electronics, aerospace and nuclear physics. The industrial infrastructure is spread throughout the region in industrial zones which have already been mentioned, the most important of which are Val Pescara, Val Sangro, Val Trigno, Val Vibrata and Conca del Fucino. A further activity worthy of note is seaside and mountain tourism, which is of considerable importance to the economy of the region. Agriculture, involving small holdings, has succeeded in modernising and offering high-quality products. The mostly small, agricultural holdings produce wine, cereals, sugar beet, potatoes, olives, vegetables, fruit and dairy products. Traditional products are saffron and liquorice. Most famous in the world is Abruzzo's wine Montepulciano d'Abruzzo; in the late 20th and early 21st century, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo earned a reputation as being one of the most widely exported DOC classed wine in Italy.
In the past decade, tourism has increased, in particular concerning internal and European arrivals. Abruzzo's wealth of castles and medieval towns, especially around the town of L'Aquila, has earned it in some quarters the nickname of "Abruzzoshire", by analogy with the "Chiantishire", nickname sometimes used to refer to the Chianti area of Tuscany, but Abruzzo is still off the beaten path for most visitors to Italy. The Times newspaper described Abruzzo as "the king of agrotourism". Abruzzo ranks fifth among the Italian regions by tourist arrivals after the Calabria, the Marche, the Sardinia and Trentino. In 2010, arrivals totalled 6,381,067 Italian and 925,884 foreign.