Head for Abruzzo's mountains – divided into several National Park areas and great for spotting wildlife, including deer, chamois, wild-boar, wolves and even a small number of bears. High barren peaks rise from slopes cloaked in beech-woods, and within gorges, cliff-sides hide ancient hermitages hewn from the rock, which make for great exploring. There are also masses of wonderful walks through meadows of wildflowers or deep gorges, with picnicking by sparkling streams.
Discover the medieval towns of L’Aquila and Sulmona with their beautiful architecture, churches and museums, restaurants and shopping, both set in spectacular mountain scenery, with plenty to keep kids entertained and interested. L’Aquila the regional capital has a great castle to visit, and a spooky connection with the number 99: there is a fountain with 99 spouts (or almost), there used to be 99 churches and 99 piazzas, and the town-hall bell still chimes 99 times each evening. The smaller but very pretty town of Sulmona is crowded with shops selling colourful displays of floral arrangements made entirely from confetti (sugared almonds) .
Visit the Adriatic coast's seemingly endless strip of clean sandy beaches. The seafood here is delicious, and just a little way inland there are some interesting towns and villages to visit. But do beware that Italians flock here masse in July and August.