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The Italy NOT for Tourists, A Local Perspective on Abruzzo

Updated: Sep 3, 2020

stone village in Italy with snowy rooftops and mountains

Written by Elisabetta Verdone

What I am going to tell you about my dear region is something that I like to whisper with a low voice and there is a reason why.

Italy, outside of the stereotypical postcards of beautiful cities and historical monuments, is a colorful, patchwork blanket of 20 various and differing regions. Every region is a specific world, with different traditions, landscapes, colors, weather, food and even different dialects!

Besides many well known, famous and sometimes overrated regions, there are lands still unknown. This is the unconventional Italy. Uncrowded, rustic, and wonderful! It has not been packaged or decorated for the tourists. It is Italy for every day life, not for tourists.

Red poppies in front of a tall rocky mountain in Abruzzo Italy

That is the reason why I keep my voice low. I want these regions to be discovered but, on the other hand, I would like to keep them away from massive tourism to preserve the authenticity and the truth of these lands.

golden beach blue umbrella red boat couple on seashore italy abruzzo

Life in the Abruzzo hasn’t changed much over the years, and exploring here is like wandering into a gentler, kinder yesterday, a time with little or no crime and neighbors who watch out for one another.

Old ladies in pinafores bring their chairs outside and sit in gossiping groups, stringing onions into plaits. Instead of playing computer games, young boys are outside playing soccer. Families shop at open-air markets, not supermarkets, and if they don’t produce their own wine, they buy it from local vineyards.

abandoned church ruins abruzzo italy authentic

I can tell you about the importance of relationships, about the neighbours that cook a bit more and often bring you dinner  or share the fresh fruits from their garden. I can tell you about the people that engage you in genuine conversation on the bus or in the shops, something that most of Italy’s industrialised regions are losing. Relatively unknown to foreign visitors, the sparsely populated Abruzzo is where central Italy merges into the languid realms of the deep south. Even though many parts of the area are only an hour’s drive from Rome, it clings onto its secret feel.

The main town in the region, Pescara, has one of the best city beaches in Europe and not far away is some of the best skiing outside of the Alps. In spring, it’s possible to combine a morning on the Apennine ski slopes with an afternoon at the beach. Food is important in the Abruzzo, as it is everywhere in Italy. In most trattorie, everything is home-cooked and just like nonna (grandmother) used to make. In fact, sometimes, nonna still makes it. On the coast, dishes feature fish; inland, the cuisine becomes heartier, based on lamb and wild boar and amazing sweets.

Do not forget about the Sagra. “Sagra” is something I love of my country. In Italy, a “sagra” (from Latin “sacer”, “holy”, because in ancient time it was mainly a religious event), is a local festival that involves food. It is often dedicated to a specific and typical local food. Although there are many sagre through the whole year, they are more widespread during the hot summer season. The amplitude of gastronomic specialties covered across Italy is amazing.

A Sagra is much more than just a festival. It is something that involves entire villages. The grandmas cook the typical food, according to the old, traditional recipes, t