Location: A region of Italy situated in the east-central portion of the Italian peninsula. It is bounded on the north by the Marche and a part of Lazio; on the east by the Adriatic Sea; on the south by Molise; and on the west by Lazio.
Name: The older, plural form Abruzzi is generally used when referring to the former combined region of Abruzzi-Molise. The exact origin of the place name is uncertain but appears to be related to either of two Latin terms: aper or apri = “boar” (referring to the animal still to be found in the region), or abruptus = “steep” (a reference to the abrupt, vertical slopes of the mountain which dominate the terrain).
Another theory suggests that the name derives from that of the Praetutii, an ancient people who once inhabited the area near the Adriatic coast.
The earliest known Italian reference to the area referred to it as Bruzio.
Area: 10,794 km² (4,168 mi²) (slightly smaller than the island of Jamaica or the state of Connecticut. slightly larger than the country of Lebanon).
Number of Provinces: 4 (Chieti, L’Aquila, Pescara, Teramo).
Number of Communes (Municipalities): 305.
Population: 1,309,797 (2007).
Population Density: 121.3/km² (2007).
History: Modern Abruzzo encompasses most of the territory of ancient Samnium. After coming under the control of the kingdom of Naples, the region was divided into two parts: Further Abruzzo (Abruzzo Ulteriore or Ultra) and Nearer Abruzzo (Abruzzo Citeriore or Citra), so named from their geographical relation to the capital city of Naples. For a time, Abruzzo Ulteriore was further divided into Abruzzo Ultra 1 (corresponding to the modern provinces of Pescara and Teramo) and Abruzzo Ultra 2 (the modern-day L’Aquila). Abruzzo Citeriore corresponds to the modern province of Chieti. In 1860, after the unification of Italy, the regions of Molise and Abruzzo were combined to form Abruzzi e Molise. In 1963, Abruzzo and Molise were again separated into individual regions.
Historical Population: 1,217,791 (1981); 1,249,054 (1991); 1,262,392 (2001); 1,273,284 (2003e); 1,305,307 (2006e).
Landscape: Abruzzo’s terrain is predominantly mountainous and hilly. The eastern coastal area includes some fertile lowlands. Much of the Apennine mountain terrain is barren of vegetation except for some isolated meadows and sparse woods. In the lower hilly districts, the ground is far most fertile and includes many green meadowlands, watered by rivers and streams.
Although the region has a coastline of about 80 miles in length along the Adriatic Sea, it lacks any natural harbors capable of holding anything but small vessels. Because of this, fishing and sea commerce have never played any significant role in the history or economy of the region.
Terrain: Abruzzo’s topography can be broken down as follows: Mountains: 65.1%; Hills: 34.9%; Plains/Lowlands: less than 1%. Its highest elevation is the summit of Corno Grande (2,912 m (9,554 ft); and it has an average elevation of 824 meters (2,703 feet).
Employment: In 1951, 60% of the employed were in agriculture, 22% in industry and 17% in services. In 2001, those figures had dramatically changed to 61% of the employed in services, 33% in industry and 6% in agriculture. The unemployment rate for Abruzzo in 2001 was 5.7%, compared to 9.5% for the entire nation.
Agriculture: Abruzzo’s climate and rugged terrain prevent most of the land from being cultivated. In spite of this, however, agriculture remains important to the region’s economy. Among the most important products are figs, carrots and grapes. In the flatlands that exist, crops like wheat, potatoes, beets and tobacco are cultivated. Fruit orchards, vegetable gardens and olive groves are also important. Around the town of Atri liquorice is an important product, while in and around L’Aquila saffron is heavily produced.
Livestock: Livestock breeding has historically been centered on sheep-herding. While still predominant, sheep are slowly giving way to cattle.
Fishing: Owing to a lack of good harbors, fishing is not an important economic factor.
Industry: Abruzzo remains industrially under-developed but is growing at an increasing rate. Still, much of the industry that does exist tends to be local in nature, based on the production of foodstuffs, textiles, and furniture. Larger industries, based primarily on metallurgy and mechanics are centered around Chieti and Pescara. The basins of Campotosto and Barrea provide electric power for much of the region. The areas around Alanno and Vasto have become very important for the chemical industry. Bauxite and aluminum are mined in the area around Bussi.
An increasing number of large firms have established their presence in Abruzzo. These include SIV (glass), Magneti Marelli (car batteries and starter motors), Honda (motorcycles), Sevel (vans), Montefluos (chlorine), Italcementi (cement), Fater (Pharmaceuticals), Pirelli (transmission belts), Italtel (telephones), Selenia (electronics and aerospace), Texas Instruments (digital circuits) and Fiat (car components).
Traditional handicrafts are still produced throughout Abruzzo. Among these, the most important include ceramics, carpets, laces, woodworking, metalworking (copper and iron) and knife-boxes.
Tourism: Tourism has become an increasingly important a considerable factor for Abruzzo. The Apennines are the home of a number of popular resorts for winter sports, while areas along the Adriatic coast have become popular summer getaways. While tourism has importance, Abruzzo has tried to limit, or at least partially control, its growth in order to protect many of its natural treasures. These restrictions, however, have been only moderately successful and Abruzzo’s delicate ecology has become increasingly threatened as the level of tourist development grows.
Climate: The proximity of the Adriatic gives Abruzzo a generally mild Mediterranean climate especially in the eastern coastal areas. Further inland where the land is predominately by mountains, the climate is more continental in nature, with cold winters and hot summers. Most of Abruzzo’s precipitation occurs during the winter months. Summers tend to be mostly hot and dry.
Famous Natives and Residents:
Acerbo, Giacomo: Baron of Aterno (b. July 25, 1888, Loreto Aprutino, Province of Pescara; d. January 9, 1969, Rome). Economist and Fascist politician.
Bafile, Cardinal Corrado: (b. July 4, 1903, archdiocese of L’Aquila; d. February 3, 2005). Ecclesiastic; the oldest cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church in modern times.
Bevilacqua, Maurizio: (b. June 1, 1960, Sulmona). Canadian-Italian politician.
Boniface IV: (b. ca. 550 in Valeria; May 25, 615). Pope (608-615).
Croce, Benedetto: (b. February 25, 1866, Pescasseroli, L’Aquila Province; d. November 20, 1952). Critic, idealist philosopher, and political figure.
Del Turco, Ottaviano: (b. November 7, 1944 in Collelongo, province of L’Aquila). Politician.
Delfico, Melchiorre: (b. August 1, 1744, Teramo; d. June 21, 1835). Economist.
Di Luca, Danilo: (born January 2, 1976, Spoltore, province of Pescara). Professional cyclist.
Innocent VII: (b. c1336 in Sulmona; d. November 6, 1406). Pope (1404-1406).
Mazarin, Jules (born Giulio Raimondo Mazzarino): (b. July 14, 1602, Pescina; d. March 9, 1661). Politician who served as the chief minister of France from 1642 until his death.
Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso): (b. March 20, 43 BC, Sulmona; d. AD 17). Roman Poet.
Silone, Ignazio (born Secondo Tranquilli): (b. May 1, 1900, Pescina; d. August 22, 1978). Author.
Tommaso da Celano (Thomas of Celano): (b. c1200, Celano; d.c1270). Franciscan monk and hymnodist. Reputed author of the Dies Irae.