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Italy's secret national treasure

Join Professor Jonathan Payne and trail expert Peter Watson on a hike through the heart of a stunning landscape of peaceful mountain scenery and medieval towns. Bypassed by most travelers heading for the nearby hubbub and spectacle of modern Rome, Abruzzo is a sanctuary for nature-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

With more than 30 percent of the land protected by the Italian National Park system, the region has the lowest population in all of Italy. Be on the lookout for rare species such as the Apennine wolf, chamoix and Marsican brown bear as we meander through a myriad of wild flowers and sapphire-hued mountain lakes. Enjoy simple, yet charming, lodgings and feast on the finest traditional Italian country food.


July 9–16, 2023


8 days


From $6,495 per person

Trip size

32 participants

Minimum age

18 years
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Faculty leader

A different kind of classroom

With renowned Stanford faculty and scholars leading the way, every Travel/Study trip is a one-of-a-kind educational experience.

Jonathan Payne

Geological Sciences

Jonathan discovered Italy while teaching at a boarding school and has returned many times over the past two decades to study ancient mass extinction events recorded in the rocks of the Dolomites and Apennines and to teach in the Bing Overseas Studies Program in Florence.


Hiking the Apennine Mountains of Abruzzo

Hike the beechwood-covered mountain slopes, grassy high plains and wildlife-filled forests of Maiella and Abruzzo National Parks, taking in spectacular panoramic views along the way.

  • Rome, Italy / Pescocostanzo

    Upon arrival at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, we transfer to the small town of Pescocostanzo. Enjoy a welcome reception and dinner this evening in our hotel, located in a medieval building in the heart of the village.


    Le Torri Hotel

    Included meal: Dinner
  • Maiella National Park

    Today’s full day hike begins in the verdant high plains of Campo di Give in Maiella National Park and passes between the great peaks of Monte Porrara and Tavola Rotonda. This afternoon, descend to the pasture lands that surround Pescocostanzo.


    Le Torri Hotel

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Monte Pizzalto

    Drive a few miles north to begin our hike on the northern beechwood-covered slopes of Monte Pizzalto. Emerging above the tree line, climb to the 6,450-foot-high peak, looking out over the southern end of the park. Return back down the mountain to Pescocostanzo.


    Le Torri Hotel

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Pescocostanzo / Pescasseroli

    Depart Pescocostanzo and drive to Roccaraso for another full day’s hike. Our adventure begins with a steady climb up Valle Arenaro to the great high plain of Piano Aremogna, where we take in incredible panoramic views. After lunch, descend to the village of Barrea, nestled spectacularly above a lake. From Barrea, drive to the small town of Pescasseroli, where we stay in a modern hotel, our home for the next three nights.


    Grand Hotel del Parco

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Camosciara

    A gentler hike this morning takes us from Barrea to Civitella Alfedena on the far western side of the lake, through pastures and woods teeming with wildlife. In the afternoon, hike through the famous Camosciara, a spectacular ring of mountains named for the wild mountain goats that inhabit the area.


    Grand Hotel del Parco

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Abruzzo National Park

    After a short drive to the beginning of our hike, climb to a great open bowl in the heart of Abruzzo National Park. Hike through beechwoods, which are a haven for wildflowers this time of year. Descend back to the town of Pescasseroli in the afternoon.


    Grand Hotel del Parco

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Pescasseroli / Sulmona

    Our final hike leads from Pescasseroli through the stunning scenery of Monti Marsicani, where one can see a full sweep of the central Apennines in clear weather. Enjoy a slow, steady climb before resting and enjoying views of valleys below. This afternoon, descend steeply to a local road where our vehicle awaits to drive us to the charming town of Sulmona. Gather for a farewell reception and dinner this evening to toast our journey.


    Hotel Rojan

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Sulmona / Rome / Home

    Transfer to Rome’s Fiumicino Airport for outbound flights.

    Included meal: Breakfast

Trip details

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The price of your trip covers a comprehensive educational program in addition to meals, accommodations, tours and excursions. Continue reading for a full list of what’s included.

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