Enchanting Abruzzo Medieval Villages
It is a perfect Saturday afternoon on the West coast of Italy. I am lounging under an umbrella mesmerized by the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore in the charming town of Sperlonga “La Perla Del Terraneo” in the Province of Latina. My thoughts are drifting back to the last few amazing days spent in the lesser traveled Abruzzo region. My maternal grandmother’s family has roots there. Needless to say, I felt an indescribable connection from the moment I arrived. Although, I did not visit my ancestral village on this trip. However, I discovered three enchanting Abruzzo medieval villages with the help of two amazing “Abruzzesi.”
Abruzzo is the greenest region in Italy. More than a third of its territory that stretches from the Apennines to the Adriatic Sea is natural reserves. The four Provinces in Abruzzo are L’Aquila, Teramo, Pescara, and Chieti. The three enchanting Abruzzo medieval villages that I explored lie within the “Upper Sangro and Altipiani Maggiori” (The Great Plateau). It is the heart of the Abruzzo National Park in the Province of L’Aquila.
Pacentro – George Clooney loves this Enchanting Abruzzo Medieval Village
George Clooney kept his promise after the devastating earthquake destroyed L’Aquila in 2009. Clooney said he wanted to shoot a film in L’Aquila to do his part to help stimulate the economy and give optimism to the Italian people. The American starring George Clooney features several enchanting Abruzzo medieval villages, including Pacentro.
Pacentro is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, and I must say that I whole-heartedly agree. Nestled on a hillside in the Majella National Park in the foothills of the Morrone Mountains, its skyline is unmistakable. “Castello Caldora’s” enormous towers are immediately recognizable.
Of course, the castle is the highlight. You can climb to the top of the highest tower where you get a sensational 360 panoramic view of the village and the Apennine Mountain Range. Without a doubt, Pacentro is an excellent stop to make on your Abruzzo Itinerary. Top it off with an incredible meal at Taverna De Li Caldora where George Clooney filmed a scene from the movie The American.
Scanno – A Medieval Village Full of Traditions and Culture
Also, Scanno is one of the most enchanting Abruzzo medieval villages in the Sagittario Valley. Getting there offers just as much eye candy as the village itself. Lake Scanno, a beautiful heart-shaped lake, is a perfect spot to stop along the way to have a picnic. Driving through the National forest’s winding roads, you can admire the many small villages growing out of the mountains. Also, this area is home to the Marsican brown bear, and there are plenty of signs warning you that you might see one.
Once you arrive, you will immediately notice that the “donne Scannese” (the women of Scanno) wearing the traditional dress. I was lucky enough to meet two of them and ask them about their traditions and connection to their culture.
Proudly, Margherita, who told me that she has been married for 65 years and is now 85, often wears here traditional costume. She adorns it with a beautiful gold necklace and pendant called a “Presentosa.” It was a traditional gift to the bride from the groom’s parents on her wedding day. Young brides in Scanno today still wear the traditional costume at their wedding and receive the “Presentosa” from their fiance or In-laws.
Enchanting Abruzzo Medieval Villages – A Taste of Sulmona
Sulmona “La Citta dei Confetti” was home-base while visiting Abruzzo. It is a small town located at the foot of the Majella mountains in the Valle Peligna. It has been home to the Pelino Confetti Factory since 1783. These Jordan Almonds come in a rainbow of colors and a variety of flavors ranging from ricotta and pears to ginger. The most popular Italian tradition is to give confetti to your wedding guests in multiples of five. It represents health, prosperity, happiness, fertility, and longevity.
Novelia and Peppe, owners of “Novelia’s Penthouse,” were fantastic hosts. If you are interested in living Italian style, this is the apartment for you. They organized a private cooking experience using Abruzzese traditions and traditional cuisine. After returning from a fantastic afternoon in Scanno, Novelia pulled out her guitar. “La Chitarra” is a unique instrument that she treasures and uses to create magic. She taught me how to make spaghetti with it, and I quickly realized that I too am a culinary musician.
In the meantime, Peppe prioritized his time wisely. First, he opened the Montepulciano D’Abruzzo. Then he prepared a fantastic antipasto with traditional Abruzzo cheeses, salami and some of the best bread that I have ever tasted that comes from L’Aquila. Dessert, of course, was Novelia’s homemade tiramisu and fruit salad with prosecco.
To sum up, the enchanting Abruzzo medieval villages were full of surprises, traditions, and great food. I am proud to have roots in the beautiful region of Abruzzo. Do you have roots in Abruzzo? Have you ever used a guitar to make pasta? Leave a comment below and share your story.