Italy’s Abruzzo National Park is located just over 50 miles east of Rome, and spans an area of over 190 square miles. The natural beauty of the park makes it popular year round and over 2 million people visit it each year. Filled with gorgeous mountains and plummeting valleys, Abruzzo is a popular winter vacation location, offering downhill skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and bird watching. The tallest, skiable peak is Mount Pratello, which stands at 7,350 feet. In the winter, the park is as cold as it is beautiful, so make sure to dress warmly. Renting a car is not a necessity, however, during the winter, it does make for a more comfortable visit.
There are many places to stay around the park as well as inside the park itself. From luxury condos to quiet bungalows, these hotels are available at a wide range of prices. A bungalow of two rooms and a kitchenette–heat included–runs between 50-100 euro for two people. Cabins that accommodate 6-12 people offer really good deals. These large, traditional cabins often have complete kitchens and living rooms with fireplaces. Weekly rates begin at 450 euro. If you are looking for a beautiful location to celebrate the Winter Solstice with a group of friends, this is an excellent option.
The most popular towns to stay in are Pescasseroli and Avezzano; both offer a wide selection of hotels and B&Bs. Two small villages that are worth a visit are Scanno and Barea. Each features traditional architecture and cuisine, and Scanno boasts a beautiful 13th Century castle.
The Abruzzo National Park offers two ski locations: Roccaraso and Rivisondoli. Combined, Roccaraso and Rivisondoli provide around 40 miles of trails. The trails accomodate skiers for all levels of difficulty, from expert to beginner. Downhill skiers and snowboarders can choose between trails on Monte Aremogna and Monte Pratello, which rise up to 7,000 feet. Cross-country trails take skiers through the forests of Abruzzo Appennines. A day pass at the Roccaraso ski resort costs 33 euro, while a one week pass costs 188 euro. Many hotels offer skiing packages that include lift tickets.
The nearby Majella National Park, which is also home to the Abruzzo Mountains, features the lesser-known Pescocostanzo ski slopes. This skiing location promises to never be overcrowded and offers classes for beginners.
And it is possible to visit the Abruzzo National Park without a car. Trains take visitors as far as the city of Avezzano, where buses regularly run into and through the park. Buses will also take you to the towns of Pescasseroli, Scanno, Barea, and other small villages.
One final note: Make sure to check snow conditions when planning your trip because snow sometimes comes late to the region.