It’s not Rome, Florence, Naples, Venice or Genoa? So what! When it comes to Italy, every little town is worth discovering! The best of Italy is in its hidden spots!
That’s the case of Abruzzo, in the centre of the country. If you have never been there, this pretty, genuine region will surprise you! Undecided between sea and mountains? No problem, here you can have both: you can lie down on beautiful beaches in the coastal cities or relax and go skiing on the beautiful Gran Sasso Mountains, this region will enchant you!
Just take a drive through its hills, dotted with tiny old towns, and admire the majesty of its peaks that lead your glance to the blue of the Adriatic Sea.
This pearl of Italy also has a huge gastronomic tradition. Nature has been very generous: its olive oil, wine, beer and cheese are well-known all over the country.
During your trip you’ll learn that Abruzzo has four provinces and they all have their own dishes and old recipes. The choice is varied: “chitarra con le pallottine”
(homemade square spaghetti with tomato sauce and little meatballs), “cacio fritto” (fried batter coated cheese), “mazzarelle”
(meat wrapped in endive rolls) just to mention a few!
If you decide to go south, visit the beautiful city of Vasto. That’s what I did: I was enchanted by its lovely old downtown city! Among its narrow paved streets you’ll also get the chance to find good restaurants (try the typical “brodetto alla Vastese”, a tomato and pepper soup with fish and clams…delicious!)
and bars (I had an excellent beer from a local brewery and tasty crostini with salmon and Danish butter at Drogheria Buonconsiglio: don’t miss it!).
Heading north, you’ll pass through the charming “Costa dei Trabocchi”. A “trabocco” is an old wooden pile-dwelling, where fishermen used to cast their nets into the sea.
This old fishing tradition makes my gastronomic experience in Abruzzo almost magical: to reach the “trabocco” you have to walk on a tiny wooden bridge that stretches over the water. It’s really a breathtaking experience, especially at night! If you want to delight your palate, you can sit at a table and taste the exceptional meal on a trabocco. I had a mouth-watering 7-serving seafood dinner on one of these structures. I could barely walk when I finished!
The internal part of the region isn’t less interesting. A stop on this beautiful hilly landscape is compulsory: little old towns like Atri, Castelbasso, Civitella del Tronto are just a few names among the hidden treasures that few people know.
If you love fresh air, you can travel west and get to the mountains in less than an hour’s drive. Food obviously matches the change of roots: roasted lamb, sausages, wild boar and wonderful porcino mushroom dishes are awaiting you any place you stop by.
You can’t leave without visiting the northern province of Teramo. This city has a pretty downtown walk with a beautiful cathedral and the ruins of a Roman theatre.
Not far from here I found a very good restaurant called Duomo where I had, among the others, an incredible first course I’ll remember forever: Ma’Kaira (spaghetti made with bran and barley flours) with guanciale meat, eggplants, saffron, toasted pine-seeds and cacio ricotta cheese!
You’ll surely leave Abruzzo with the promise to come back very soon and discover all the other culinary wonders it hides. You can find genuine, authentic food, made of those simple ingredients that make Italian cuisine the most appreciated in the world.
Visit unspoiled Abruzzo! Click here
(We thank Giovanni Lattanzi for the pictures of Civitella del Tronto and Teramo)