As I sit here cradling my cup of tea and watching dawn tickle the fringed edges of pine trees outside my window, I can already see that this morning might be another day of rain. Mind you, I’m never one to pick a fight with the weather (naturally, weather always wins). Still, I can’t help thinking about places where I might find sunshine drizzled like honey over rolling hillsides. You know the sort of destination I’m dreaming of…
A warm and welcoming countryside where window boxes overflow with flowers and rustic trellises arch over cobblestone courtyards.
A place where fresh blooms from the fertile fields of tradition (I’m tasting tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella made by hand).
Are you feeling it too?
If so, it’s time to grab a picnic basket, one with lots of room for the bounty we’ll gather as we wander the country roads and idyllic towns of Abruzzo, Italy.
Dream it with me: Abruzzo (pronounced ah-brootso). Don’t you love the way it flows and ends with that trademark Italiano ending?
Abruzzo is a south-central region in Italy that lies due east of Rome. Its eastern edge stretches languidly along the Adriatic Sea while the steep and rugged Apennine Mountains create the region’s jagged western border. Hundreds of square miles have been preserved here as wilderness parkland where wolves, bears, boars, and rare chamois antelope still roam free.
And it only gets better: deep in the heart of so much wild beauty, Abruzzo is quilted in a patchwork of small farms. Saffron, licorice, grapes, olives, orchard fruits, and cereal grains are all grown in the Abruzzan hills, destined to become classic crave-a-liscious Italian fare.
This is my kind of paradise!
More than 300 family farms in Abruzzo not only produce delicious food but also cater to guests from around the world. It’s all part of a growing industry known as agriturismo. (Okay, we call it agritourism here in the U.S., but the Italian version sounds so much more romantic.)
The basic idea is a lot like my farmstyle B&B. Instead of spending your vacation in a hotel, you get to snuggle into the landscape by staying on a farm. The experience generally offers a delightful balance of luxury (or quaint hospitality) and hands-on farming fun. Picture yourself helping handcraft artisan cheeses and plucking olives under the Abruzzan sun before retiring to the comfort of Farmhouse Pescara, a charming villa overlooking the historic town of Penne.
You’re sold, too, aren’t you?
Our trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting one – or all – of Abruzzo’s many medieval villages. Again, the names are luscious on the lips: San Giovanni Lipio, Tagliacozzo, and Pietracamela. Meandering along ancient alleyways so narrow you can reach out and touch both sides, let’s be sure to stop and try out the Italian phrases we’ve practiced with old women who sit in stone doorways embroidering delicate lace with calloused fingers. Rest assured, the gaps in language are no barrier among women who value food, fibers, and fertile ground. What can’t be explained with words or elaborate hand gestures can always be expressed with laughter.
So, what are we waiting for?
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