A Driving Tour in Abruzzo: Castelli to Pescara

Atri CathedralOnce you’ve mastered the art of driving in Italy, you’re ready for your very own driving tour. Guided tours and buses offer you many opportunities to see Italy’s finest, but nothing can compare to being able to explore on your own at your leisure. A driving tour between Castelli and Pescara in Abruzzo is a simple and fun way to experience some of the region you might otherwise overlook.

Beginning in Castelli, you have the opportunity to explore a classic hillside community complete with a plethora of artists. Castelli is an art haven for contemporary artists, but especially ceramicists. The Ceramics Museum will get you started as you explore the artwork of the city, but the real fun will come as you examine and buy some of the most beautiful modern art creations offered in Italy.

Bundle up your newly gotten wares and head back to A24. Take A24 down one exit toward Roseto degli Abruzzi. Look for the local road to Atri and take the side trip to see an exquisite cathedral and ancient Roman artwork. The 19th century cathedral is built on top of the ruins from a Roman bath. The dolphin mosaic from the bath is still clearly visible.

Some of the finest Renaissance work in Abruzzo, the frescos by Andrea De Lito are a point of interest in the cathedral as well. Outside the cathedral, in the main square, be sure to watch your feet. Thick glass protects Roman mosaics set directly into the pavement. As you finish exploring take a turn through Belvedere Garden to enjoy the view of the valley and sea.

After Atri, continue along the local road you took to Atri, but turn south on coastal route SS16. Keep an eye out for olive groves and unusual canyon formations as landmarks. Pescara isn’t a beautiful city or one with terrific cultural events other than the interesting story of its birth and most well-known inhabitant. Gabriele D’Annunzio, one of Mussolini’s strongest supporters, was born in what became the city of Pescara. He united two small villages into “Italy’s Youngest City” with Mussolini’s permission.

Be sure to visit D’Annunzio’s birthplace to see a typical upper class home from the early twentieth century. Spend plenty of time at the beach if you are there in the right season, and even if you can’t spend the day by the sea, at least enjoy the delicious fresh wares of the sea at any local eating establishment for dinner. The seafood in Pescara is outstanding.