Abruzzo – Italy’s Secret Regions

Abruzzo Italy's Secret Regions Pescara Bay

Abruzzo: it’s got lamb, ski resorts, bears, beach and seafood.

Abruzzo is low key, with fewer Anglo tourists and is family-friendly.

Think organic food and the kind of place where everything is closed from 2pm – 5pm. Also, it’s oh so very green. 70% of the land is reserved for nature, which makes it the biggest nature reserve in Italy.

And remember double “z” in Italian is “t”. Just like pizza is actually “pitza,” Abruzzo is actually “Abrutzo.

Adriatic Sea view Abruzzo Italy

Abruzzo’s Main Cities

L’Aquila, Abruzzo’s Capital

L’Áquila sits on the natural wonders of Italy. Sheltered under the glacier of Gran Sasso, and above a tectonic plate, one prone to earthquakes that have shook Italy again and again.

The historic city was once the second city to Naples, when Italy was divided into kingdoms. It has unfortunately, suffered numerous earthquakes the most recent in April 2006. It left parts of the city in rubble and around 65,000 people homeless. Vast parts of the city are still sectioned off, in the long waiting line of construction work.

On the other hand, it is not a city to completely rule out. You can drive into the L’Áquila region through an immense tunnel carved through the mountains and the L’Áquila skiing season is bustling.

In winter, head to the chalets and ski slopes. In summer, camp out in the mountains and hike through the fields of boulders and rocks deposited by the retreating glacier.

L`Áquila Gran Sasso- secret regions of Italy Abruzzo

Pescara in Abruzzo

Pescara is generally much newer than the other Italian provincial capitals. There is a pedestrianized historical centre, which is a ghost town in the day, but springs to life at the weekends. The few streets become a continuous party of bars and restaurants where you can hop seamlessly through the night until you no longer see straight.

Whereas, by the beach and the Marina, new chic hotels, endless mega restaurants and low-rise luxury apartments fill the skyline. This is the downtown and we suggest you settle down in one of the well-equipped private beaches for day. You have access to huge palm leaf umbrellas, restaurant and sometimes even swimming pools.

The Pescareans are used to fine dining. That means you should book most of the worthwhile restaurants in town, because they fill up.

  • For traditional arrosticini try Braceria Arrosticini Da Carlo or Restelle & Co.
  • For the freshest and best prepared local fish go to either Murena or Brigantino near the train station. At Brigantino have the menu of the day which offers you a fish pasta and a fish main with bread. At Murena get the Antipasto Mureno between two or three to start. Then try a primi (pasta) or secondo dish.
  • Fattoria Tocaferro only serves fresh, organic local produce. It serves the best Italian food you have never heard of! They have a lunch menu, written daily on the black chalkboard. The pizza and focaccia oven is turned on in the evening.

Chieti and Chieti-Scalo

It wouldn’t be Italy without a hilltop town, so Chieti is your place in Abruzzo. Only 10-15 mins from Pescara, Chieti houses the rest of the University of G. d’Annunzio. Therefore, a lot students live in the town, which has a million dollar panoramic view of the snow-capped mountains and Adriatic Sea.

In winter the city is icy cold. At Easter they hold a Good Friday procession through the town. It is then swiftly followed by aperitivo on mass.

If you are partial to hilltop towns, you can also read my guide on Umbria. A central region of Italy that is hilltop town after hilltop town.

What to Buy and Eat in Abruzzo

  • Buy a hand painted arrosticini ceramic. These ceramic jugs are used to store the typical lamb or liver kebabs called arrosticini.
  • Saffron. This is the land of the saffron flower. Take some saffron home with you.
  • Abruzzese Pecorino cheese is a sheep cheese typical of Abruzzo. Eat it grated onto bruchetta with artichoke.
  • Typical Abruzzo wines: montepulciano red wine, cerasuolo rosé wine, pecorino white wine or Trebbiano d’Abruzzo a white wine.
  • Cured wild boar meat called guanciale.
  • Chitarra pasta which is a square spaghetti typical of the Abruzzo region.
  • Sange e ceci is a chickpea and pasta soup deliciously brewed in Abruzzo.
  • Amatriciano pizza is a tomato, wild boar (guanciale) and pecorino pizza.

Other things to know about Abruzzo

Abruzzo has resident bears and wolves. Visit the Majella National Park in the summer months to see bears and wolves.

Pescara has an international airport. You can reach there by Ryan Air from London Stansted.

Taxis are expensive. We paid 20 to the historical town center from the airport. The bus system is more affordable. You can buy a ticket before boarding from tobacco shop (50 cents cheaper) or from the bus there’s a machine. The bus stop is walking distance from the airport.

Want to read more about our life in Italy? Here’s my interview for expat.com giving you advice on not having a breakdown whilst immigrating to the great Italia.

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