THE CAPTIVATING BEAUTY OF ABRUZZO

When we visited Abruzzo a few years ago, we immediately fell in love with its charm! We knew this was now to become our ‘home-away-from-home’ and we soon purchased a small farmhouse and began our new Italian chapter.  We have since visited the region most months of the year and explored many of its wonderous offerings.  Being in the centre of Italy, it straddles both the north and south sides of the country with dramatic scenery, a sensational seacoast, and curvy hills spiked with world-class vineyards.  It is an expansive territory of closely held traditions, vast natural splendor, picturesque medieval towns, and miles of seashore.  With castles, fortresses, historic art-adorned cities, perfectly charming stone towns on hilltops, and more than a third of the region protected as park land, there are plenty of things to enjoy in Abruzzo.  Being more rustic than regal with a laidback lifestyle, Abruzzo is full of charm with its people offering real hospitality to those who visit.

We want to share a few beautiful aspects of Abruzzo with you, in the hopes that you will too visit this incredible region one day.

If you are an outdoors enthusiast, you will be in heaven in Abruzzo with the kind of scenery that stops you in your tracks.  With soaring snow-dusted peaks, vine-striped rolling hills, and a length of rolling coastline along the Adriatic Sea, it is a microcosm of all of Italy’s greatest geographical features tucked into one region.  Home to Italy’s largest national park - the Gran Sasso, along with two other sizable national parks and a couple of nature preserves, you’ll find jaw-dropping alpine panoramas that resemble the Alps.  There is no lack of activities to do in the day, such as mountain biking, hiking, horse riding, climbing, paragliding, skiing, and fishing - and we are working our way up to the paragliding!  One of our favourite experiences has to be visiting the mineral-rich hot springs at Caramanico Terme.  They are undoubtably nature’s curative remedy and completely melt any of your worries away.  We also love all that the coastline has on offer, with plenty of golden sandy expanses and hills that fall to the water, creating natural pebble-carpeted coves.  This is where you’ll find the distinctive trabocchi, old-time wooden fishing platforms allowing them to successfully harpoon fish from a higher vantage point - It really is such a beautiful site watching the men at work.  Gary and Francesco have also played the region’s three golf clubs – I go along for the scenery and wine!  

    

Also, in the great outdoors away from the crowds of more famous medieval towns, Abruzzo provides the most authentic regional experience and stunning scenery.  Stone hamlets clutch their hilltops, with storybook castles and tall towers enticing visitors with their romantic aura, telling stories of once defending their towns against invaders.  Most towns sit off dramatic cliff faces with imposing mountain ranges as their backdrop.  You’ll be completely enchanted by the city’s regal medieval and Renaissance palazzi, Roman ruins, and medieval aqueduct.



While much of the region holds its rural roots close to heart, it doesn’t mean culture is overlooked.  Here in these towns, culture seekers can walk the streets and enjoy the tranquility of a world gone by where century-old traditions are honoured.  There are beautiful velvet-draped opera theatres that offer full schedules of shows, concerts, and operas, and plenty of churches adorned with excellent artwork, and museums scattered in nearly every sizable town.  An evening passeggiata (leisurely stroll) and a pre-dinner drink are cherished traditions, while centuries-old festivals, including medieval palio (horse racing) events, and religious processions are still carried on.

    



Of course, this is Italy, si mangia (you eat)!  And in Abruzzo, even more so!  Many Italians consider Abruzzo a culinary high pointof Italy; the region preserves distinct recipes from times gone by, making them just as their great-grandparents did.  With mountains and sea as its strategic borders, fishing and farming are this region's lifeblood.  Whether its seafood or farm-fresh dishes, the dedicated cooks take rustic recipes to new heights.  Using simple local ingredients, bring out the best flavor of each mingled ingredient.  Abruzzo also has a long history of pasta-making and has produced handmade spaghetti alla chitarra for more than 200 years. This variety of egg pasta is pushed through a wooden contraption that has stainless steel guitar-like strings.  You can even watch the interesting process at some of the local deli’s.  There are also food festivals that let you enjoy the area’s specialties, along with dancing and socialising.  These cultural events are colourful, joyful, and give you a chance to really embrace the local atmosphere.  With grape harvests, chestnuts, sausage, fresh fish, and the myriad of pasta dishes on offer, you’ll find a festival for it in Abruzzo.

    

There are also plenty of world-renowned wineries in Abruzzo offering their excellent vintages, notably the famed Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, the region’s regal red produced with the Montepulciano grape.  The full-bodied rose’ called Cerasuoloalso also comes from the same grape.  The majority of the region's wine production is in Chieti province.  Visit a winery (or several) to sample, buy and be merry.  If you’ve ever wished for a fountain flowing with vino, your dream will come true in Abruzzo, where a fountain really does dispense wine!  The 24-hour seven days a week "fontana del vino" in Caldari di Ortona was installed by Dora Sarchese vineyard winery.  The winery owners had the idea while hiking the Santiago Way in Spain; they simply wanted to provide a service that had been previously unheard of in Italian history (and in all of history for that matter!)

    

If you are enticed by sweet treats, look no further because Abruzzo clings to its traditions; famous as the birthplace of colourful confetti, dating back to the 1500s.  These pastel, sugary almond confections are whimsically arranged into beautiful bouquets.  No wedding, baptism, or graduation in Italy is celebrated without them.  Tantilise your tastebuds with any flavour imaginable - Nutella, tiramisu, ricotta and pear, fruits of the forest, hazelnut - the list just goes on!



So as you can see, there truly is something to satisfy absolutely everyone’s taste in Abruzzo! We hope we have wet your taste buds with ideas of travelling to this incredible region.


Until next time,