If there is one place near Rome that you need to explore while on vacation, it is the Gran Sasso e Monti dela Laga National Park. A 132 km (82 mile) drive from Rome into the Apennines mountains, this national park is the type of place you'd expect the tourists to hop all over, especially since it is split by the SS80, a busy state highway.
Alas, we're glad to have peaks like Corno Grande and Corno Piccolo (2,912 meters/9,554 feet and 2,655 meters/8,711 feet, respectively) to ourselves. The wild sheep that flock the slopes aren't a bad touch either. Both of these peaks are doable for experienced hikers, while the cliff faces are a challenge for some of the best rock climbers around
If you show up during the winter, you'll want to ski at either Prati di Tivo, a tiny village known for its winter sports, or Campo Imperatore, which is home to Italy's oldest ski area and the hotel where Mussolini was imprisoned in 1943.
Note:This park is also home to an underground laboratory that fields some of the leading scientists in the field of quantum physics. Advances in understanding of dark matter and the behavior of neutrinos have been made here. Any further information is classified. We fear we may have already said too much...