Italy's largest national park rests mainly in Abruzzo though it touches Lazio and Le Marche, as well. Officially known as Parco Nazionale di Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga, around the country it is simply referred to as Gran Sasso and everyone knows where it is. Covering 150,000 hectares (370,000 acres), it is a wild land of mountain peaks, rivers, lakes, gorges, valleys and waterfalls. It is more rugged than most landscapes in Italy, giving it a great contrast to the rolling vineyard covered hills in other parts of Abruzzo and Italy.

Gran Sasso's highest point, Corno Grande, is a distinctive towering peak at 2,912 meters (9553 feet) above sea level, the highest peak south of Alps. Here in the park you'll find flocks of sheep grazing in pastures, a centuries-old tradition, wildflowers, and wildlife that includes the rare Apennine wolf, eagles, peregrine falcons, wild boar, the Abruzzo chamois, and more. There are several climate zones within the park because of the exposures and elevations. Within its boundaries you'll also find archeological sites, museums, medieval fortresses and time-worn towns. The Calderone Glacier is a diminishing ice-pack, though you're likely to see snow-caps on the peaks year round.

Park activities include hiking, horse riding, climbing and skiing, as well as bird watching, river activities, and of course picnics. An odd piece of trivia about the Gran Sasso National Park is that below it, in the depths of the earth, is the world's largest underground laboratory.

Teramo and L'Aquila are the main cities in the area of Gran Sasso National Park, though there are many villages scattered in the park itself.

Been there? Done that? Share your experience and tips!

Haven't visited yet? Have questions about Gran Sasso National Park? Ask them here!

Browse carefully selected home rentals in Abruzzo.