Abruzzo, Italy


Abruzzo is a region in Southern Italy covering an area of around 11,000 km2. Almost half of the region is protected through national parks and nature reserves. Giving it a reputation as the greenest part of Europe. There are three national parks, one regional park, and 38 protected nature reserves. The Abruzzo National Park is the spectacular highlight, the second oldest park in Italy and covered with ancient beech forests. The Gran Sasso and Monti Della Laga National Park is mountainous with alpine plains centred around the Gran Sasso massif. The land is rocky and receives large amounts of snow and wind. Majella National Park is centred on the Majella massif. Hydrocarbons have been extracted for thousands of years along the slopes of the mountain.

Together this incredible landscape hosts 75% of Europe’s animal species including rare wildlife such as the Apennine wolf, Apennine chamois, and Marsican brown bear, as well as roe and red deer, wild boar, and griffin vultures. Thanks to the vast scale of the area and abundance of wildlife, Abruzzo has become a focal point for rewilding in Europe and one of the stand-out places for wildlife watching. You can read more about the rewilding of Abruzzo and the changing attitudes to wildlife here.

Average rating: 5.0 (very good)

Average cost: entrance to most of the parks is free, although there are charges for entrance to specific visitor centres (for details see here). You can stay in hotels and B&Bs within the parks (see here and here for some ideas) or you could try an 8-day wildlife safari for around $2,000.

Best time to visit: you can visit this spectacular landscape year round. Summers are typically hot and winters are cold, so spring and autumn are usually the best times. That said, for the adventurous, there are some exciting wolf tracking tours available in winter!

How to get there: the easiest way to navigate this vast region is by car. Although there are public transport options to the main national park areas. Check out this helpful guide for details on getting to Abruzzo, Gran Sasso, and Majella National Park.

Typical activities: bird watching, hiking, wildlife watching, wolf tracking

Number of reports: 4

Last update: 2022


According to reports submitted to WildSide, the most popular species that can be seen here are:

wolf25% OF wildside users (1/4) REPORTED SIGHTINGS

wolf abruzzo wildside world wild webThe grey wolf has had a complicated relationship with humans for thousands of years. After heavy persecution across much of Europe, the Apennine wolf, a subspecies of the European grey wolf, was hunted to almost extinction. By the end of the 1960s, as few as 100 survived in the Apennine region. Thanks to changing attitudes and conservation efforts, the wolf has slowly expanded its area over the last 40 years. Today the population in Abruzzo alone is around 2,000, and numbers continue to increase.

Wolves can be found throughout the region. However, the ancient beech forests and high density of chamois and other herbivores make Abuzzro National Park the best spot for wolf spotting. These are large wild landscapes and wolves can move over vast distances, so taking a dedicated wolf-watching tour is highly recommended if you want a chance to spot one. Check out the European Safari Company for tours recommended by Rewilding Europe. You can also check out this nice guide to wolf trekking in Abruzzo. If you don’t have any luck spotting one trying listening out for their spine tingling howls. We heard them in the hills around the medievil town of Arsita and it was one of the most magical experiences we’ve ever had!

chamois – 50% OF wildside users (2/4) REPORTED SIGHTINGS

chamois abruzzo wildside world wild webChamois are an acrobatic goat-like antelope native to the mountains of continental Europe. The Apennine chamois is a subspecies endemic to the area. Nicknamed (somewhat ambitiously) the world’s most beautiful chamois they are slimmer and more elegant than other subspecies. In the early 1920s, there were only a handful of chamois left in the region after years of hunting. The Abruzzo National Park was set up to protect them and now numbers have rebounded. With chamois also being reintroduced to Gran Sasso, Majella, Sibillini, and Velino. If you are comfortable with a good hike, you can see them in key hotspots such as Rose Valley, Monte Amaro, and Monte Meta. If you have trouble you can always arrange a dedicated chamois tour.

red deer – 50% OF wildside users (2/4) REPORTED SIGHTINGS

red deer abruzzo wildside world wild webThere are plenty of red deer in the Abruzzo region – but finding them in this vast, mountainous landscape can be difficult. If you want to give yourself the best chance of seeing them a guide is a good idea. The autumn months of September and October are a great time to look for deer as they take part in the spectacular rutting season. During this time you can take a dedicated deer-watching safari. If you want a close encounter of a slightly different kind you can try looking out for Oreste, the friendly stag who visits the small village of Villetta Barrea in the Abruzzo National Park in search of treats!

wild boar – 50% OF wildside users (2/4) REPORTED SIGHTINGS

wild boar abruzzo wildside world wild webWhen exploring the region’s many hiking trails, wild boar are occasionally seen maruarding past on the lookout for seeds, tubers, and young plants to eat. Although wild boar are usually startled when coming across people, they can become aggressive, particularly when females have young. So make sure to keep your distance! Historic reductions in wolf numbers have led to continued rises in the boar population. Which is increasingly bringing them into conflict with farmers. New laws allow the hunting of boar in the area, although continued recovery of the wolf population may ultimately be a more sustainable solution.

Photo Credit: 18986 under a Creative Commons licence from Pixabay

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