The Abruzzo region of Italy
For a region best known for its national parks, wild uplands, mountains and general rural life, the region of Abruzzo is jam packed full of priceless art, architecture and historical treasures. The best way to discover more is to focus on three golden periods of Abruzzo's 'civiltà'. That's 'ancient Abruzzo', 'medieval Abruzzo' and the Abruzzo from the '16th century to present day'.
We originally wrote this article in 2000 as an introduction to the Abruzzo region when we first started Deliciousitaly.com. That's a long time in internet years, so we decided to update it to include this wonderful video, kindly highlighted for us via Twitter by @Cam_Sam_Tommaso. It sort of fits perfectly with our text from over a decade ago and captures the spirit of the region, as well as passing through places we know and love.
The Abruzzo coast is around 125km long and stretches from Martinsicuro, on the borders of Marche, to Vasto which is within swimming range of Molise.
In the middle is the port of Pescara and the buzzing summer resorts of Francavilla al Mare and Alba Adriatica.
The coast is a long lazy drive past miles of sandy beaches bathed in clean water with some of the best value hotel accommodation you'll find anywhere in summer.
The onshore and offshore breezes provide above average windsurfing conditions and those keen can choose between Giulianova, Francavilla al Mare, Ortona, Torino di Sangro Marina, Lido di Casalbordino and Marina di Vasto etc.
The latter, and the worryingly entitled Punta Aderci, are also good for canoe enthusiasts. Here the sea is rocky (in every sense) and ideal for exploring.
Our suggestions for day trips on or near the Abruzzese coast:
Silvi Marina extends linearly to the Statale Adriatica road and from the area contiguous to Torre di Cerrano to the slow winding meanders of the Piomba River to the border of the province of Pescara.
The rest of the town, like the historic center, has a life of its own which isn't solely based on summer tourism thanks to its local business and industries.
Torano Spelt may sound like a character from Charlie's Angels, but the local grain, 'farro' or 'spelt' was once an essential part of the local diet in the region.
Most of us now know that we consume an excess of proteins, fats and sugars in relation to bread, pasta and vegetables. This kind of unbalanced diet is one of the root causes of the classic illnesses of modern society.
Anyone with Italian roots or origins who wants to rediscover their history, culture and heritage through traditional products still made by hand should consider the old 'botteghe' of Abruzzo. For example, the Valle Peligna.
This wonderful valley in the heart of the region is dotted with many small towns, each with its own traditions which are reflected in the local ceramic production.
Obtained from the dried and powdered stem of the 'croccus sativus' which grows on the Navelli Plain in the province of L'Aquila, saffron is considered by many to be the single most representative symbol of the traditional products of Abruzzo. An essential ingredient in Risotto al Milanese (and paiella in Spain for that matter) the spice also crops up in many other dishes across Italy.
For example, the fish soup found in Le Marche, south of the Monte Conero, contains saffron for its red coloring in place of the more traditional tomato. This coloring property is also widely appreciated in the production of cakes and liqueurs and for centuries by painters in the preparation of dyes. Its additional curative powers have long been known to help digestion, rheumatism and colds.