Abruzzo (2-4 September)
Now that we’re travelling around a bit – there’s not as much time to update diaries. Also, we had no access to wifi whilst in Abruzzo, so that prevented us a bit.
The drive from Grassina was relatively uneventful, with much of the time spent on the autostrada (a road system that is wonderful!!). Glenda drove for the first time since being in Italy – taking over just in time to drive through the labyrinth of tunnels that navigate through the huge mountain ranges separating the west and east of the country (and where the major fault line lies). The countryside – in between tunnels – was spectacular. Green and mountainous!
And we were so excited to see the turquoise water as we neared the Adriatic!! Whilst the autostrada ran parallel to the coast all the way from Civitanova Marche (where we hit it), to Pescara (near where we stayed) and beyond, we only received water glimpses when the large concrete bollards gave us the opportunity. Later on, we were able to explore the coastal road going even further south and enjoying the spectacular azure colour of the sea! Not waves for surfing though.
We made the mistake of holding off on lunch until after 2pm when we reached Guardiagrele, the largest town near where we were saying – and needless to say, found everything closed for siesta. We managed to track down a little local eatery on the outskirts, and what a surprise! Fed and watered, we could head off to our home for three nights. Or so we thought – Cilla, our GPS took us through goat tracks (really!) and potholed roads (which we discovered were normal for the area), and all we found were rather run down farmhouses. Then out of the blue, an oasis – with Julie, our host, standing outside waiving. We moved into our rather nice, new apartment and settled in. That is, after a long chat to Julie, getting all the tips for our stay.
Ascigno, one of the local villages was shut down for the night – the entire centre / street – holding their annual festa in honour of its patron saint. We followed Julie (and husband Tony), down the narrow roads (avoiding all the wild cats) and joined the festivities. Panini filled with roast pork whilst sitting on the pavement listening to some local music was a relaxing way to spend the night. And an opportunity to absorb some Italian culture (although hearing a lot of English around us made us aware of the large British expat population in the area). We didn’t stay for the midnight fireworks – which ended up being stopped after 20 minutes as they were creating spot fires around the farmland. We were in bed by 11pm, with Julie and Tony arriving home around 3:30am!
We took advantage of being near the coast again to walk along the beach (pebbles), sit on the pier and enjoy the very fresh local seafood, which we could pick up for 5 Euro a plate! This turned out to be a much better deal than what we’d originally hoped to do – have lunch on a trabocco, one of the unique fishing structures erected along the coastline. Whilst we thoroughly enjoyed checking them out – they really are amazing contraptions – we could get so close to them without paying a lot to eat on them and this was sufficient to satisfy our curiosity.
Abruzzo itself is a fascinating area. It is a combination of seaside, farming and mountains in one. The mountain villages are picturesque with lovely views over valleys and sea. You can go from swimming to skiing in the space of an hour or so (although probably wouldn’t do both in the same season). The people are friendly and laid back and generally leading a simple life.