Abruzzo: an unexpected journey into the least explored region of Italy

The opportunity for a small trip through one of the regions that, gastronomically and culturally speaking, is the least explored in Italy, is given by the Abruzzo Wine Tourism Movement who invited Segmento to the international press tour, “Chalices of Stars”. The purpose of this tour is to tell the world what lies behind the curtain of this region at the centre of Italy, with such a profound and historical winemaking tradition. Without delay, I released my senses and enjoyed magnificent landscapes and unforgettable flavours.

The central focus of the tour is the territory’s top product. The wine.

But the first hidden secret that arouses my curiosity is that this region allows you to enjoy the three thousand feet high mountains of the Gran Sasso, perhaps skiing enjoying old recipes in wooden huts, all the while being an hour’s car journey from the seaside, where you could be sipping a glass of wine. A remarkable glimpse of sweet hills full of olive groves, and of course vineyards.

Our tour started from a belvedere in Montesilvano Colle, a small hamlet made of brick houses from which you can admire “La Bella Addormenta” (The Sleeping Beauty), the long mountain range that looks like the profile of a resting woman. Looking around, the boats go quietly into the sea as they taste the delicacies of ancient tradition accompanied by a Trebbiano wine with unexpected notes.

To me, the idea of “folklore” in Abruzzo seems immediately commonplace, and an idea that this tour is aiming to dispel. The restaurant where the journalists from around the world meet for the first time is called BR1 Cultural Space, a place where contemporary art and high cuisine coexist. The great surprise of the first evening was the Cerasuolo, or an indigenous wine obtained from Montepulciano grapes, vinified in white.

The first stage of the following morning was the Coast of the Trabocchi, a chain of promontories and gulfs stretching about twenty kilometres of coastline, propped up by ancient piles once used for fishing, namely the ‘trabocchi’. Just above one of these exquisite wooden platforms paved in the calm sea of August I have tasted sea crustaceans and white wines, pecorino and passerina, which are two vine-land children and rediscovered from the market only in recent years. In addition to the flavours, what remains of this tasting is certainly the place where it is consumed: beneath our feet resounds the sea with its waves breaking on the subtle wooden pylons that hold the structure, and the strong smell of wood corroded by salt.

After a short visit to the ancient Medieval Monastery of St. John in Venus and a relaxing trip among the many vineyards of the Province of Chieti, we arrived at San Salvo Marina where the Michelin Star Chef Nicola Fossaceca offered us culinary seafood creations to accompany different types of wines, all wonderfully matched in an abundance of typical Abruzzese food and wine. After a short visit to the ancient city of Ortona and the beautiful seat of the Regional Enoteca Abruzzo (the place where all the wines of the territory are kept and tasted by those who so desire), we started towards the topical moment of our trip: The Chalices of Stars.

This is a show created by the Wine Tourism Movement, which over the years has become an indispensable event for international wine lovers, likened to Open Wineries (a series of international events that each year leads thousands of people to visit the vineyards and taste wines). The 28 producers present shared the types of wine they produce on a night made of stars, music, food and wine, all framed in a beautiful castle overhanging the sea.

At the end of this pilgrimage I will keep in mind very few images, maybe even blurred; because what prevails in travels like these are the vivid and intimate feelings of pure pleasure that they will never abandon me, and that which a trivial postcard would fail to return. The final question is how a region so rich in terms of territory, food and wine varieties and cultural heritage can be so unknown to the world? I will try to find a response by watering my detailed discourses with the still-present goblet of the prince of all the regional reds: the Montepulciano D’Abruzzo. Prosit! Cheers!

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