A suggestive place near Ortona, south of Lido Riccio, is one of Abruzzo coast’s most gorgeous spots for its natural beauty, the promontory of Punta Ferruccio, dominating a pebble beach protected between two rocky peaks that plunge into the emerald green sea water: be warned that the beach is not easily accessible and also that here naturism is tolerated.
The Punta Ferruccio beach, part of the Costa Teatina National Park, is just north of the Ripari di Giobbe regional nature reserve, which has another of Ortona’s best beaches, with Blue Flag awarded for clean water and environmental protection.
The photo here shows a view of the beach of Punta Ferruccio, with the tunnel that runs along the coast, seen from the Natural Reserve of Ripari di Giobbe.
Abruzzo Coast near Pescara
Just north of Pescara is the resort of Montesilvano Marina, which has a sandy beach well equipped for tourists. It has won the Green Flag as one of the best beaches for kids.
Montesilvano is a town divided into Montesilvano Marina and Montesilvano Colle. As often happens in many Italian towns and villages, an ancient urban centre historically developed entirely or partly on a hill for defensive reasons, while its modern part grew on a plain near it for ease of access.
Montesilvano Colle is the original nucleus on the hill (‘colle’), whose existence is confirmed with certainty by historic documents already in the year 1114. Montesilvano Marina is a lively and popular seaside resort, whose development started in the mid-19th century due to the opening of the local rail line and which, stretching along the coast, has taken over in size and importance the old Middle Ages city which still preserves many medieval buildings.
Right north of Montesilvano are the mouths of the Piomba and the Saline rivers. As a curiosity, the father of the famous Italian-American actor and singer (of, among other hits, That’s Amore and Everybody Loves Somebody), who also worked with Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, Dean Martin, came from Montesilvano.
From Pescara, going south along the coast and adjoining Pescara itself we find Francavilla al Mare, extending for 10 kilometres of coastline, well known, clean, quiet and relaxing, suitable for young families, with long sandy beaches provided with umbrellas and sunbeds, but also frequented by young people attracted by its cafes and pubs.
The seafront promenade of Francavilla has a cycle path that runs through the city from north to south. There are many green areas and parks throughout the town, the chief of which are the central gardens, about 5,000 square metres of greenery a few meters from the beach.
Francavilla al Mare’s area, with hills near the sea and valleys, offers several panoramic points over the hinterland foothills and the coast, from the beautiful Riviera del Conero in the north as far as the Costa dei Trabocchi, which starts just south of Francavilla. Among these panoramic points are the Belvederes San Franco, Setteventi, Le Piane.
Francavilla al Mare, being within easy reach of the resort of Ortona, the starting point of the Trabocchi Coast, which ends at Vasto, is the gateway to the famous Costa dei Trabocchi, one of the best liked areas of the Abruzzo coast for its wild natural beauty.
Francavilla is also the gateway to the Parco Nazionale della Majella, the National Park of Majella, the second-highest mountain massif in peninsular Italy, after the Gran Sasso which is also in Abruzzo.
Among the things that embellish Francavilla are several aristocratic villas, the Sirena Wharf, fine golden beach and a sea of such a limpid colour that it won the town the Blue Flag of Europe.
The city has a rich history, it was a port from 1281 and home to a major fair from 1307. Built according to an urban herring plan typical of the Middle Ages from the town centre to the sea, it was surrounded by defensive walls and guarded by twelve towers. Some ancient towers still survive, including Torre d’Argento, Torre Masci built in 1570, and Torre Ciarrapico built in 1660.
After Francavilla, travelling south we get to the historically important town of Ortona, whose area comprises many among the best beaches and coastlines in Abruzzo.
The port of Ortona is one of the most important of all the Adriatic Sea, and is by far the main port of the Abruzzo region.
Many ancient churches, towers, castles, palaces and other impressive buildings can still be admired in Ortona.
Ortona was the commercially important port city of the ancient Italic population of the Frentani in pre-Roman times, as we know from the Greek geographer Strabo, and as such in the first century BC it participated in the anti-Roman revolts of those peoples who, united in a league under the capital city of Corfinio, for the first time in history called themselves “Italic peoples”.
Ortona was then conquered by the Romans, and subsequently it became a Roman city, built on the plan of the original Italic city. Roman areas and streets still exist in Ortona, as well as a fountain nearby called “Hannibal’s fountain” as legend has it that the Carthaginian general stopped here to water his horses during the Second Punic War.
The city’s long history continued through the ages: after the fall of the Roman Empire of the West Ortona was occupied by the Goths, then became Byzantine, then Longobard, then in 1060 was conquered by the Normans who set the city on fire, after which it was annexed to the Kingdom of Sicily.
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Thomas the Apostle, built in Ortona in the 9th century, destroyed by the Normans in the 11th and completely rebuilt in the 12th century, since 6 September 1258 has permanently housed the authentic relics of the Apostle Thomas which were brought to Ortona, coming from the Greek island of Chios, in the Aegean Sea, by the Ortonese sailor Leone Acciaiuoli, returning from an Ortonese naval expedition in support of the Venetians at war against the Genoese.
To this day the relics of Saint Thomas are kept in this church, along with many valuable paintings and sacred sculptures.
In St. Thomas Cathedral in 1427 the peace was sanctioned by the priest St Giovanni of Capestrano and signed between Ortona and the neighbouring city of Lanciano, which had been at war over their borders and over dominion of the sea.
In the early 1400s the city walls that can still be partially seen in Ortona were built.
On 30 June 1447, due to the rivalries between Alfonso d’Aragona and the Republic of Venice, Ortona was invaded by the Venetians who destroyed the port, warehouses and naval arsenal without being able to penetrate the walls.
In this period one of the major landmarks of Ortona was built, the Castello Aragonese, a fortification with powerful walls, in the shape of a trapeze, on the edge of the city in a spectacular position dominating the sea. The Aragonese Castle played a defensive function until the 1600s. It can still be admired, with the moat facing the Medieval district of Terravecchia, the two mighty cylindrical towers and the perimeter walls. The castle’s inner part is used as a garden with lovely views over the sea.
Other fortifications still at least in part standing in Ortona are the Caldora Castle and Caldora Walls.
The latter, fortified in the 1400s, surrounded the whole old city quarter of Terravecchia (home to the Cathedral of St. Thomas the Apostle and the Aragonese Castle), and of the Terranova (the area of the Palazzo Farnese and Corso Vittorio Emanuele). Remains of them still exist.
Built by the same warlord, Jacopo Caldora, in the same age is the well-preserved Caldora Castle, part of the medieval defensive walls, more a fortified bastion with a strong crenellated tower than a castle.
In 1566 Turkish galleys attacked Ortona from the coast. Burning, looting and devastation followed. Not since the Normans had the town experienced such terrible moments marked by sacking, pillaging, violence and destruction, especially of Christian religious buildings including St. Thomas Cathedral and Celestini Monastery.
Local historian Domenico Romanelli, born in nearby Fossacesia, thus described the Turkish raid in his chronicles:
The invasion took place in Ortona on the first of August… They set fire to all the houses, and especially to the richest, after having looted them.
The marine area of Ortona is well known for its tufa coves and wild, natural beaches.
The coastline starting from Ortona extends for about 20 km, with a succession of wide and sandy beaches alternating with hidden coves, rocky stretches, bays, cliffs and headlands plunging into the sea, surrounded by a lush Mediterranean vegetation. Ortona has a small sandy beach within the town called Lido Saraceni, and another longer, narrow beach of sand and shingle 3 miles away, Lido Riccio.
Another beautiful Blue Flag beach just south of Ortona is the Spiaggia di Punta Acquabella. In this part of Abruzzo it is easy to find plenty of great tourist accommodation, with many bed & breakfasts offering good value.
Photo credits: Punta Ferruccio beach by maury3001, Francavilla al Mare by Valentina Pierantoni, Ortona Coast by Jos Americanos, Castello Aragonese by Mario Talone, Ripari di Giobbe by Camping Ripari di Giobbe .
Best Loved Accommodation
These are among the preferred hotels and holiday lets on the Abruzzo Coast near Pescara most highly rated by guests:
Hotel City in Montesilvano luxury 4-star hotel 2 minutes’ walk from the beach, with private beach equipped with loungers and parasols, outdoor swimming pool, free nearby parking, restaurant, bar, free WiFi, 24-hour front desk.
Sea Lion Hotel in Montesilvano elegant 4-star luxury hotel 2 minutes’ walk from the beach, on Montesilvano’s seafront, 3.1 miles from Pescara. The hotel has a private beach with swimming pool, bar, free on-site private parking, free Wi-Fi, and offers its guests free access to its wellness centre, which includes sauna, hot tub and Turkish bath. A fitness area with treadmill and other equipment is also free. Rooms have air conditioning, TV with Mediaset Premium channels, and a private balcony.
Grand Eurhotel with apartments in Montesilvano a hotel with both rooms and apartments 2 minutes’ walk from the beach, on the very seafront in the centre of Montesilvano Lido, with free private beach and outdoor swimming pool. It offers modern accommodation with The hotel is 5.6 miles from Pescara and 15 minutes’ dribe from Abruzzo Airport.
All accommodation has air conditioning, a seating area, a balcony and free WiFi. All apartments and studios have a fully equipped kitchenette and dining area.
PHI Park Hotel Alcione in Francavilla al Mare stylish 4-star luxury hotel 2 minutes’ walk from the beach and 15 minutes’ drive from Pescara, immersed in a beautiful garden, with its private beach, a rooftop swimming pool, restaurant, bar, free public parking, 24-hour front desk, and a wellness centre. All rooms have free WiFi and air conditioning, some rooms have a furnished balcony and sea views. The hotel’s on-site spa includes Turkish bath, hot tub, sauna and sensory showers. Massages and treatments can also be reserved.
Hotel Corallo in Francavilla al Mare 3-star hotel 1 minute’s walk from the beach, in the heart of Francavilla al Mare, and 3.1 miles from the centre of Pescara. Rooms have private balcony with sea views. The hotel has a private beach for its guests, with sun loungers and parasols. It offers free bikes, free Wi-Fi, free private on-site parking, bar, lounge and on-site restaurant.
Best Western Villa Maria Hotel in Francavilla al Mare beautiful 4-star luxury hotel 9 minutes’ walk from the beach between Pescara and Francavilla al Mare, in a green oasis on a vegetation-covered hill overlooking the Adriatic Sea, and surrounded by centuries-old pine and olive trees. In a lovely quiet atmosphere, and very luxurious for the price, the hotel offers a free shuttle to its private beach in Francavilla al Mare 0.9 miles away, free on-site private parking, free Wi-Fi, bar, free access to its Linfa spa and wellness centre which comprises 3 areas, with large indoor and outdoor swimming pools, sauna and Turkish bath, and fitness machineries. Beauty and wellness treatments are also available. The hotel’s gardens are delightful and so is the restaurant with terrace, a perfect retreat to enjoy the refreshing sea breeze. Rooms have air conditioning, and some rooms have a terrace with views of the garden or the sea in the distance.
Hotel 7venti in Francavilla al Mare meaning ‘Seven Winds’, is 8 minutes’ walk from the beach in Francavilla Al Mare. Set on the hills surrounding Francavilla Al Mare, with gorgeous views of both the sea and the Maiella Mountains, the hotel has an ample, 400-square-metre garden and a rooftop sun terrace, both equipped with deckchairs and parasols. It has free on-site private parking, free Wi-Fi, bar, rooms with air conditioning, and is rated by guests for the best value in Francavilla al Mare. 7venti is 25 minutes’ drive from the Passolanciano ski slopes and a 15-minute drive from Pescara Airport.
Hotel Guerra in Francavilla al Mare luxury 4-star hotel right on its own private beach, in the centre of Francavilla al Mare, a 15-minute walk from the train station, from which Pescara can be reached by train in 15 minutes. It has free on-site private parking, free Wi-Fi, bar, restaurant. Guests can rent bikes at reception to explore all the surrounding areas. All rooms have a furnished balcony, a minibar, air conditioning, marble floors. The hotel has one of the locations in Francavilla al Mare best rated by guests.
Hotel Ideale in Ortona 3-star hotel 12 minutes’ walk from the beach in Ortona town centre, near all the major landmarks of the city. With free WiFi, 24-hour front desk, on-site private parking, luggage storage, bar. Rooms have, along with the usual facilities, air conditioning and fridge. Hotel Ideale is 11.9 miles from Pescara Port and 12.4 miles from Abruzzo Airport.
Torre della Loggia – Dimora Storica Hotel in Ortona is 1 minute’s walk from the beach, in a superb location (one of the best-rated by guests) right in the centre of Ortona. Beautiful historic villa with a garden and terrace. Free WiFi, bar, on-site private parking. Rooms have air conditioning some rooms have sea view. This hotel is also rated by guests for the best value in Ortona.
Hotel Valente in Ortona 2-star hotel 1 minute’s walk from the beach of Lido Riccio, in Ortona. It has a private beach area, a terrace, free WiFi, bar and restaurant. It is 9.9 miles from both the city of Pescara and Abruzzo Airport.
Hotel Mara Hotel in Ortona 4-star luxury hotel 2 minutes’ walk from the beach of Lido Riccio, in Ortona. It has a large outdoor swimming pool, a private beach, free on-site private parking, free Wi-Fi, a children’s pool, a bar, a restaurant with panoramic views, laundry service. All rooms have a balcony and air conditioning.
Animation activities are organised in the summer. The hotel is a 20-minute drive from Pescara.