Many foreign travelers prefer the “picture postcard” beauty of the north, but to travel to Abruzzo and other southern regions is to witness an age-old Italian lifestyle that has not changed for centuries. Here you’ll find ancient beechwood forests inhabited by wolves and bears, century-old pathways still used by colorfully-attired shepherds and their flocks, ominous castles which now guard nothing but desolate stretches of wilderness where the only sign of life might be a soaring royal eagle or a lone family of mountain goats. Best known for its dramatic mountain scenery, Abruzzo’s landscape is surprisingly diverse. A vast plain extends east of Avezzano, the coastline is flat and sandy, and there are ancient forests in the Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise. Small towns are dotted in the wild landscape and retain a medieval look, while the numerous hilltop castles and isolated, sometimes abandoned, borghi (medieval towns) exude a sinister charm, lending credence to Abruzzo’s fame as an ancient centre of magic, and the land of a thousand castles.