Since December the snow in Abruzzo has been falling thick & fast, needless to say the ski reports for the ski resorts in both the Majella & Gran Sasso Mountains has been excellent throughout the season to date.
This winter anywhere 15km inland from the Adriatic coast has had a cycle of what seem to be teasing flurries that last for between 3-4 days followed by a blizzard that really does feel that you are driving into a plague of locusts. This covering stays put for a couple of days before melting away, with a lot less gusto than it arrived with.
Abruzzo snow clad is quite magical. Olive trees, weighed down by snow take on a look as if the Ice Queen has just been past and her cold blast has left them quivering in a petrified stance. The cones of the mountain pines are the favourite place for icicles to emerge, their bright evergreen needles in vibrant contrast against the bright azure skies that soften into evening mists. Wafts of sweet wood smoke travel around the houses as you walk past, everyone inside in front of their open fires and stufa [stove] even when they have central heating.
Thankfully the Communes in Abruzzo are wonderfully efficient in dealing with clearing the roads of snow and making sure black ice is kept to a minimum. Driving from a-b is quite effortless, without worries of mishap or being stuck for a night high up on the mountain roadside. Not for Abruzzo the resorting to smearing the roads with table salt like the Councils in the UK did recently when we popped back. No, snow ploughs, gritters, tractors you name it you’ll see them all out in force ensuring that the roads apart from the highest mountain passes such as Castelli-Castel Monte are usable. Even on national holidays, for example the recent St Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day), when it had been snowing from dusk through to early morning, the road in our sleepy little village was perfectly clean by the time we emerged after a heavy day of eating & drinking on Christmas Day.
Tips for Driving in the Snow in Abruzzo
- If you are ski-ing always take chains, or ask for snow tyres from your car rental company. No matter how efficient the Abruzzo snow ploughs, there is always going to be one place that hasn’t yet been cleared and you don’t want to lose traction on a dark night and having to push your car up a 10% gradient in a driving blizzard.
- Take an ice-scraper with you in your luggage. Most car rental cars don’t automatically include one with your car.
- If you do skid – steer into it, don’t manically steer the other way or try to brake, it’s all about slow control.
- You never do know, so always keep a full tank of petrol, a choccy bar and some warm clothes and a telephone number of the breakdown company to hand to be on the safe side.