Ancient Hatria Picena named in the pre-Roman period was the capital of the south Picena. In 290 BC it became Municipium Foederatum of Rome, an important commercial center with its ports on the Adriatic. It was the only city in the Adriatic to mint (cosa intendi can la parola “MINT”?) before Rome, and considered among the oldest, dating back to the fifth and sixth centuries BC. Its many monuments stand as historical references – like Palazzo Ducale, the Roman theatre and the Basilica Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral along with many more quaint and diverse churches located in the historic center.
Do not miss the natural wonder that is the Calanques. Often compared to Dante’s pits, the erosion of the clay soil, typical of the area of Atri is at its most impressive in all of Europe. Time and weather have worked hand in hand to carve sharp peaks and edges for hundreds of meters into the descending hills that are reminiscent of a lunar landscape. This area has recently become a Regional Natural Reserve called the "Calanques of Atri”, a protected area with varied natural flora and fauna ideal for nature walks, bird watching, hiking, mountain biking and for educational purposes.
Not to be missed is the storied tradition of "Faugni" which is celebrated every year at dawn on December 8. Bundles of dried reeds are intimately linked by the fire lit in the center square, and led by the sound of the Levie town band before the corteo.
...out and about
It’s difficult to select among the many places that should be seen at least once. Fortunately this region has diverse natural beauty deserving of an extended stay.
A must for those who love the mountains, the stage on Corno Grande on the Gran Sasso mountain, a scenic experience where you spend the night awaiting the break of dawn (be sure to bring warm clothes, even in the summer!). At an altitude of 2,433 metres, the Franchetti refuge with on-site accommodation is a must see, with both visual feasts and a feast for your taste buds with their famous polenta and farro soup. Lovely little villages dot the Apennine mountains, like Calascio, Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Castel del Monte, Farindola, Pretoria and others. Another gastronomical experience not to be missed are the locally grown meats both sold and grilled outdoors on-site at the plateau of Campo Imperatore. Artisanal butchers have expertly honed their craft to deliver the local delicacy of arrosticini - tender lamb skewers so flavourful, you’ll be hard pressed to eat just 1 or 10! As always, a robust Montelpulciano wine and some local perorino cheeses are always readily available and of the highest quality.
Do not forget to visit the other local towns and cities famous in the region, like the provincial capitals, L’Aquila, Pescara, Teramo and Chieti.