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We had never heard of Abruzzo before choosing a cottage to spend our summer holiday in 2015. It turned out to be a beautiful, unspoiled area, covered in mountains and bordering the Adriatic. Much of the area was damaged by the earthquake in 2009, but there is more than enough to make this a special place to visit again and again. Click HERE to see photos from last summer in Umbria, HERE Liguria 2013, HERE for Tuscany 2012 and HERE for 2011. For other Summer 2015 photos, click HERE.
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Above: information booth shadows in L'Aquilla, the town most damaged by the earthquake, ollive groves at our cottage, and the Roman fountain we passed every day on our travels.
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More scenes from L'Aquilla. We bought fruit from the man in the Bart t-shirt and most enjoyed the fountain of 99 kings. In Sulmona, we discovered the candied almonds called confetti.
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Sulmona is the birthplace of Ovid, and there was a neon art exhibit in progress.
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Enjoying an Aperol spritz, we watched the townfolks arrive in their medieval dress for the weekend festival.
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One Facebook friend commented, "Was that like a village of just ridiculously good looking people!"
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More of Sulmona's finest, including the owl that satisfied my travel bingo requirement
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We visited ceramics and olive oil museums in Loreto Aprutino. The bike race was a surprise!
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The man through the cut-out windows was hanging out his laundry. Low-rise combat trousers to the extreme.
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Our luggage was lost for four days, so we enjoyed shopping for new clothes at the Citta del Sant'angelo. Afterwards, we visited the nearby beach.
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A definite highlight of the trip was swimming in the secluded river in the gorge running near Bolognano.
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Above: scenes from the cottage roof, where we watched stars and enjoyed cantucci, and our visit to Pescara for the food tour. Our guide told us that the locals, after visiting the church on Sundays, say, "Now we go to Paradise", referring to the pizzeria by that name that is just across the street.
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The Abruzzo with Gusto food tour was amazing. Highlights include sampling the once-maggot-ridden cheese we've seen the Two Greedy Italians eat, watching pasta all chitarra being made, seeing the 1883 cook book used by the deli, and tasting hemp and turnip greens pizza.
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Meanwhile, down at the Pescara beach
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The fountain above was manufactured in Glasgow. A little old man escorted us to the tower and explained that it was once used to send smoke signals.
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Some of the last photos I took with my lovely camera before it got lost. The photos from Pacentro, once home to singer Madonna's father and grandparents, are from the new, even whizzier camera bought that same day in Chieti.
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Back in Sulmona for the second week of medieval parading and three of my favourite photos from the whole trip.
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Village after village paraded by, including entrants from Greece..
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Above: we returned to the wonderful deli, Alla Chitarra Antica, for some treats. The place was founded in 1965 and family run.
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Can't have enough photos of this cute, frolicking dad.
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More Pescara totty
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Apologies for the overload of such photos. If you'd like to see even more cuite Italian men, visit our Liguria 2013 page.
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We couldn't find the mountain festival with the Pink Floyd cover band, so instead, we went to this agricultural festival in Alanno, and discovered that the youth of the whole town can dance up a storm!
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Some of the tangos were amazingly powerful.
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Anna from Abruzzo with Gusto organised a Cooking with Locals day at the splendidly relaxing L'Aperegina organic holiday farm. We made pasta alla chitarra with mutton sauce and grape and orange crostatta, plus we got to sample a wealth of products made on the farm.
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After leaving the farm stuffed with splendid home cooking, we ventured into the almost deserted Corvara.
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Above: views from Corvara and Popoli.
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The daylight moon led us to the Grotte di Stiffe, where the workers' dog trotted ahead of our group.
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Another unexpected find was the ancient Roman city of Peltuinum, which we explored all on our own after the shirtless boys with the guitar left. As our guidebook says, if this were in Tuscany, there would be queues, admission charges, and everything would be behind glass.
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Next stop, Navelli, which was almost deserted but supposedly home to the finest saffron production in the world..
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Third trip to Sulmona, where we discovered interesting frescoes in the crypt.
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George Clooney's The American was filmed on location in Sulmona. I bought Rus a Christmas gift in the shop, above. .
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We took Anna's advice and drove the tortuous route through the mountains to go to Trattoria Nonno Liborio. Some of the food was truly exceptional, but after eight dishes of antipasti, we couldn't face the stodgy pasta course. Never felt so full.
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Chieti was a pleasant surprise, with lots of nice shops and museums. We learned on our food tour that tobacconists also specialise in salt.
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Once we found the archeological museum, we were amazed to see the warrior of Capestrano close up, as well as many other ancient treasures..
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Why would any Italian want to buy soft American sandwich bread? .
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In Manoppello, there was some kind of pilgrimage to see a relic within the church. Outside, the shirtless men were setting up for a festival.
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The church in Vasto (home of Gabriele Rossetti) housed a "true thorn" from the crown of thorns. We wanted to see the anicent Roman mosaics but it was only open from 7.00 p.m.
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There's always a holiday wedding and this one was at the abbey in Venere.
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The abbey is built over an ancient temple to Venus from 80 BC and has frescoes from the 13th century.
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It was a lazy day at the nearby beach..
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The diving basketball player is one of my favourite photos from the trip. Right place at the right time.
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Above: our final big meal was at Il Postiglione, near Bolognano - excellent food and the friendliest service we had in Abruzzo. The other photos are from our phones, as the camera photos from those times are lost.
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Pescosansonesco was hit by an earthquake in 1909 and the hilltop town is mostly deserted now.
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Above: more camera phone shots, including a huge fortress, summer truffles at Franco et Amalia's wonderful restaurant, a raptor loose in the grocery store, and the shopping mall where we bought new clothes.
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Abruzzo is certainly an area we plan to return to and discover more!


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