Abruzzo is one of the most beautiful and undiscovered regions of Italy. In addition, it boasts the title of the most protected region of the Italian national territory. 28% of its territory is the parkland: the Abruzzo National Park, the National Park of Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga, National Park of the Maiella Mountains, and the Sirente-Velino Regional Park.
After the Sangro River runs through the heart of the Abruzzo National Park and the central towns of Pescasseroli and Villetta Barrea, it arrives and rests into Lake Barrea. Its cold waters are crystal clear and create a game of irresistible colors and mirrors.
One of the curiosities and peculiarities of the region is that it is made up of hamlets, also portrayed in the works of Escher, the famous artist of the “impossible”. The Crater of Sirente is of extraordinary interest in the Abruzzo region because it is a symbol of natural and ancestral beauty.
There are several other places that hold geographic “recognition”: the Cauldron, the southernmost glacier in Europe; the Rocca di Cambio, the highest town in Italy; Corno Grande, the highest peak of the Apennines; the Veronica, also known as il Volto Santo or the Holy Face of Manopello, which is considered the “the True Icon” of Jesus, that mysteriously disappeared from St. Peter’s in the 1600s.
The typical artisanal products of the local region include: the copper cast basins from Avezzano, in the province of L’ Aquila; the textiles from Taranta Peligna, in the province of Chieti; and the lace pillows, blankets and bedspreads handmade from the province of L’Aquila.
Saffron is one of the most widely used spices in Italian cuisine but also worldwide. It is cultivated in Piana di Navelli, an area the size of 8 hectares at 700 meters above sea level between the towns in L’Aquila. To produce a kilo of saffron, one requires 200 thousand flowers; the harvest takes place within 15 days of the flowering period; the intense orange color stigmas are extracted from the flowers. A pinch of this red gold is ideal to impart flavor, aroma and color to dishes.
Still on the on the subject of cuisine, it must be noted that Abruzzo prevails when it comes to the use of chili pepper, which is present in all the sauces. Among these maccheroni alla chitarra is the most popular dish. La chitarra is a kitchen tool that resembles a guitar, made up of a beech wood frame where the steel wires are stretched and separated by a millimeter. A sheet of dough is rolled over the strings and the result is spaghetti-like pasta.
Another typical first dish, which you can find if you visit the region in the spring, is called Le Virtù or “the virtues.” It is a soup enriched with ritual meanings and is based on the number 7, the virtues of a good cuisine.