There is no better way to brighten up and distance the memory of being cooped up during the pandemic than treating kids to some snowy sledging or snowshoe adventures in Abruzzo over the winter.
The beauty of snow is that the activities around it don’t have to be expensive or ski led, although, of course, Abruzzo is the primary ski destination for Romans and Neapolitans (read our post on where to take your kids skiing in Abruzzo which is just over an hour’s drive from Rome!).
There are low-key powder snow alternatives to skiing that don’t require deep pockets, or a snow cannon to fill in overused bald spots on a slope. Sledging and snowshoe treks are activities that take advantage of a natural sprinkling and guarantee a magical time full of wonder! Both give parents a chance to bond with the kids, rather than be separated if they are novice skiers by lessons, only to see each other ‘over lunch’. If you would love to have a holiday that is less about being productive on the slopes and focused more on giggles, and that digs deep into the wonder you felt as a child of the snowy great outdoors, here are our winter adventures tips for Abruzzo.
Slide Away – Sledging in Abruzzo
On sheer exhilaration stakes, sledging is pretty hard to beat; kids adore it and most would be the happiest of bunnies having a week sliding down the slopes in a grove, having snowball fights and building snowmen. For kids that love speed and silliness, this is paradise, and parents get to remember what giggling is too as they career down a slope – something that many kids don’t always see in their parents!
All the ski resorts have huts to hire sledges for the day, even local Decathalon Sports Shops located close to them will rent a sledge out too. Children’s plastic sledges with brakes can be rented from €7, and two-seater versions that will hold an adult and child, or 2 children, at €10 for the day. You will be expected to give some sort of id card as a deposit.
The Spruce has some great ideas of sledging games to play if there is a family or two out on the hills. You can stick to the small slopes around the resort or alternatively go off and find a grove with multiple height slopes.
One spectacular sledging area is Prato Capito, also known as Agapito, which is 1616 metres above sea level, a 10-minute drive from the main Campo Felice (AQ) ski resort, where you can go to rent your sledges. Campo Felice is a wide, basin-shaped plateau on the western tip of Abruzzo that sits in the Sirente and Velino Regional Park.
Prato Capito is a world away from the resort; expect to be bordered by centuries-old beech wood that you can safely sledge between and panoramic vistas. This valley grove itself is actually a picnic area in the summer, so there are plenty of well-maintained wooden tables there if you do fancy a seat or taking along a winter picnic, with stone barbecues too. We took along some homemade apple & almond cake, and flasks of hot chocolate. Mulled wine would have been good and the idea of cracking open a flask to find some warm just grilled legendary Abruzzo sausages is very enticing, and would make for some great memories!
For lunch, we drove for a quick pasta stop at Il Giardino di Andrea (booking recommended) in Rocca di Cambio, which boasts spectacular views of the Gran Sasso range. Expect excellent homemade pasta – particularly good was the sheep’s ricotta and pistachio ravioli in a blood orange caper sauce.
Children love to snowshoe, which allows them to think they can float on a carpet of snow whilst they concentrate on the more important things like animal tracks in the snow. As this is Abruzzo those tracks could be from wolves, bears, boars, foxes, lynx the list goes on and on. Kids don’t have to be athletic for a snowshoe trek, rather curious and up for a social adventure.
Children’s Snowshoe Trekking in the Abruzzo, Molise and Lazio National Park
“The mountain landscape is surrounded by a mysterious stillness, the snow covers everything and with the freezing night, it draws crystals that resonate in the wind. The tits hurry with rapid flights while the blackbirds flit from the thicket of brambles with every step that approaches. With much luck, in the quieter forests, one can find the footprints of the elusive marten or the small rosettes left by the paws of the wild cat. The snowy background is transformed into an open book that narrates the tormented events of the forest.”
Acclaimed guides Wildlife Adventures offer family snowshoe hikes for children from the age of 6 and upwards for a group of up to 15 people. Meeting in Pescasseroli, the capital of the national park which will be celebrating its centenary in 2023, you will go by car to the starting point for an escorted magical trek across bright clearings and snowy ancient beech forests that are recognised and protected by UNESCO.
Prices for their escorted 3.5-hour trek including all gear is € 20 for adults, € 15 for children aged 10-14 years and € 10 for children aged 6-10 years, read more and book here.
Children’s Snowshoe Trekking in The Maiella National Geo Park
Heading east to Mother Mountain and the Maiella National Park, which was awarded the status of GeoPark in 2021, Majambient offers children snowshoe trekking from the age of 8, commencing in the spa town of Caramanico and snakes its way along through the woods to the San Leonardo Pass. The company provides the town’s educational centres and teaches local children who visit as a class or online about the park. The rental of the snowshoes and poles is €5, and the escorted trek is €15 for adults and children over the age of 11, and €11 for children aged from 8 to 11 years old. Read more and book here
Kids Sledge & Snowshoe Trekking Adventures in Abruzzo Map