The Abruzzi-Molise mountains include the most imposing and evocative Apennine complexes. This essay analyses the economic, social and cultural logics behind the man-environment relationship in this particular context. After centuries of uninformed "assaults on nature", whose most macroscopic forms consisted of deforestation, the great change came with the establishment of the Abruzzi National Park and the civil struggles – led by Erminio Sipari – which brought this event about during the early decades of our century. Environmentalist movements and culture have taken on a new lease of life, especially since the 60’s. Hard and impervious nature, for so long a scene of misery and abandonment, has been transformed into a formidable resource for the economic and social rebirth of the Apennine interior. The positive experience of the Abruzzi National Park, a model of the synthesis between conservation and development, has given the impetus for a whole series of similar initiatives to the extent of making the Abruzzi the "green region of Europe".