We knew that Abruzzo had something special when we embarked on the journey of creating a place where active people can enjoy a vacation. We were not strangers to the idea that Abruzzo is a missed gem among Europe’s travellers.
But what surprised us is the pride the Abruzzese takes in their traditional and genuine kitchen and the quality of the culinary Abruzzo. So far, we have never been disappointed going in to a restaurant in the area.
Even though Abruzzo is in the middle of Italy, historically the main influence on the cuisine come from the southern part of country. It usually means traditional, genuine and rustic recipes often with strong species.
We would like to take you to local food and wine producers in the area. Fara San Martino is the pasta center due to its fresh water from the Majella. And other places to visit could be the fishmarket, the agriculturas or the honey factories to mention some.
Image above: From a visit to the local meat producer Altobello.
We had prior knowledge of wines like the Montepulciano D’Abruzzo and the white Trebbiano. But we have also found the Cerasoulo, the white Pecorino and Fanghina wines as well as the red Primitivo which is the local form of the Zinfandel grape. We believe that Abruzzo will become a major supplier of quality wines internationally over the next 5-10 years.
In Italy each part of the country, each region, each town and village takes pride in the local recipes, produce and products like olive oil. A lot of the dishes find their base in what is available locally. Since Abruzzo has a long coastline, seafood is fresh and can be found in many forms varying from elaborate starters to the hearty Brodetto fish soup/casserole.
The cheeses are many and some Pecorino cheese (yes same name as grape mentioned above) are aged in caves for up to 36 months.
Castello di Semivicoli's is a local caretaker of wine traditions and its most famous wine is Villa Gemma, a well balanced and full bodied Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. The Castle also produces excellent wines under the brand Marina Cvetic as well as at least four distinctly different olive oil.
There are also numerous types of Prosciutto ham where some are curated at high altitude where humidity is lower hence earning it the name “Alto”.
One of the more known food items from the Abruzzo area is the spicy salami called Ventricina. With chunky pieces of meat and large amount of pepperoni picante it still have some local variance of course. We prefer the Ventricina Vastese – from Vasto.
There is not just one Abruzzo kitchen style. There are at least three. In the mountains for instance cooking often contain lamb and not as much tomato products. In the mountains pickled vegetables are also common. Often served cold and crunchy. Lamb is used in the arrosticini (lamb skewers) that is common all over Abruzzo.
The closer to the coastline one gets the more the seafood and fresh vegetables are used in the cuisine.
Italy's best pasta producers
By the foot of the mountain and at the edge of the cultivated area you find the perfect place to produce some of the best pasta in the world. Clean water in abundance is essential and in places like Fara San Martino three big producers are benefiting from the clear water coming straight out of the Majella mountain.
Recipes here contain less tomato and more oil and more species like chilli. The pasta that has strongest connection to Abruzzo is the maccheroni alla chitarra.
The Prosciutto – the dried ham that is so well known. Every producers has its own recipe for the paste that seals it and how it is cured with regards to the humidity, temperatur and length of time.
By the coast the kitchen changes again. Here the rough diamond is the traboccho, a building out in the water designed to fish from and that has given the name to the Trabocchi Coast, the coast line between Pescara and Vasto. Here some of the trabocchi offer on-site dinners as well possibility to take part in the fishing. A visit is a must if you come to Abruzzo.
The dishes in the area make use of the abundance of fresh fish and vegetables and history of cooking it. The most famous local dish is the rustic soup/casserole called Brodetto. Even this dish comes with variations. There are differences between the recipes from Giulianova, Pescara and Vasto. We like the Vasto version best.
Unique to Europe the Trabbocho is an old fishing form that has given name to the coastline from Pescara to Vasto. Some of the offer fishing and on-site eating.
Last but not least we have to mention Dolce, the sweets. We just name them here. You have to come here and enjoy them. Confetti, Torrone Nurzia, Parrozzo, Ferratelle, Cicerchiata, Croccante, Mostaccioli, Pepatelli, Macarons Sise delle Monache. And there is more!
The heritage of Abruzzo cooks and cooking is upheld by the Villa Santa Maria Cooking School. Here students learn the same techniques and recipes that former students have used in their profession since the 1600 hundreds and where former students have become chefs for presidents and royals ever since.
In September and October the area is busy with different harvests. Any small town will have lots of small tractors pulling carts filled with the grapes and olives driving towards the local cantina/cooperative.
We mix the above culinary part of Abruzzo with the great nature assets, sometimes called the greenest part of Europe, and our facility and hospitality.
This is by the National park Riserva Naturale di Punta Aderci a beautiful beach just north of Vasto. This sandy beach has no restaurants or sun umbrellas and offers the beauty of the nature itself.