Exploring Abruzzo Region From Pescara By The Sea
People kept asking us why we had chosen Pescara by the sea as a stop. It worried us for a while, wondering if we had made a mistake. The answer was simple – it was on the Adriatic coast of Italy mid-way between our stops at Igea Marina (outside Rimini) and Lecce and was big enough to act as a hub to explore the Abruzzo region. At the hotel, they noted that most foreign visitors were there because they had relatives or ancestors in the area. But there is no Italian heritage on either side of our families. It was noted that Pescara was essentially levelled in the war and thus had no real tourist draws, with only a tiny old town left standing. They invited us to relax and enjoy being locals – and we did!
Having upgraded our hotel to be in the town rather than in the resort area of Francavilla di Mare to get air conditioning back, we rolled our bags from the train station the 8 blocks or so to the Victoria Hotel. We were back to a small European room, so it would require us to be neat and keep things in their place. We hoped the roller shades would keep the noise down but we were not sure what was going to temper the sound of the well known veteran opera singer practicing next door. Whether as a professional singer or just as a happy Italian, we would often hear men singing out loud!
We were welcomed by Fabio. All TripAdvisor reports talked about the great service we would get from Fabio and he would not disappoint. He was always on the ball, being proactive about anticipating and meeting our needs. Fabio had strong opinions on where we should eat and visit, and where we should not! He was a great source of input for our day trips and most particularly what local foods we should be trying. It appeared that each small region had yet one more new thing to try (from confetti candy in Sulmona to stuffed olives in Ascoli Piceno).
Walking along the water line we reached the main port area and strolled on the panoramic bridge crossing the river. As promised, we could see the town of Pescara spread out before us and see the gently rolling hills behind it.
We wandered down to the beach to find it mostly deserted. The vendors were dismantling and removing the wooden umbrellas as the few tourists settled onto towels on the sand. On our first day we were a bit concerned with the empty beach (having just left the ghost town of Igea Marina) but we would find this town to be lively despite the empty beach.
We were warned that Sunday would be a quiet shopping day as most Italians take it as a day for rest so we planned to be lazy for the day. While the stores and many restaurants may have been mostly closed, the downtown and beach area was crowded with people (except for the nap time in the afternoon). It seemed that everyone was out walking and enjoying the warm, sunny day.
This continued well into the early evening. Returning from an early pizza dinner after 8pm we found the main streets full – old people walking hand in hand, kids playing on the street, young adults perched on stools having a drink and the old men sitting on the benches watching it all go by. The small merry-go-round was spinning and a few kids were still on it. We felt perfectly Italian as we strolled with the others. When David danced with me to the great violin concert being given in the street, the young girls following us applauded and smiled.
David enjoyed his chats with the bartender Adriano. He made us a Spritz for our welcome drink, a mix of Aperole and Prosecco. This helped to explain the profusion of orange drinks we had seen everywhere. Apparently Aperole was the drink of the summer. This would become my nightly treat. Adriano worked both the night bar and breakfast, so David got a chance to chat almost every day and probe more about Italian life. Everyone was amused at the bar pic I tweeted of David and Adiano deep in discussion about local Abruzzo wines, Adriano scribbling names on a piece of paper as he added new ones that we should try.
Day Trips from Pescara Into Abruzzo
We picked up a car on our third day and this freed us to wander further afield for day trips:
- South along the coast as far as Puglia (stopping in Ortona, Termoli and Ischitella)
- North along the coast and into the hill fortress of Civitella del Tronto
- An emotional drive through the earthquake recovery in L’Aquila
- Deep into the mountains to see the highest fort in the region on top of Rocca Calascio
A Romantic Dinner By The Sea -La Terrazze
One night we asked Fabio to make reservations for a romantic dinner at the affiliated Le Terrazze restaurant for 7:30. While we knew we were looked at when we ate this early, we figured it would be a long multi-course dinner so we wanted lots of time. From the moment we stepped off the elevator, we were treated as special guests and spoiled with both food and service. With a romantic spot outside on the patio, we enjoyed a leisurely 2.5 hour dinner overlooking the beach and fountains.
While we learned never to get seafood on Monday (nobody fishes on Sunday), having 3 fresh seafood courses on a Wednesday night was heaven.
Our dinner was topped by a great flambé show to create a perfect orange chocolate crepe.
At home in Canada, almost nobody drinks rose wine (mostly a mix of wines). Our local Abruzzo rose wine that night might remove the stigma of rose wine and change our mind forever. We left totally satiated and pleased.
The weather remained great early in October for our week in Pescara, with blue skies matched only by the blue aqua water. On the one partial rain day we lazed and tried to get caught up on writing and pics. We ate local specialties in every stop we made with the occasional picnic when we could not handle another long restaurant meal. Eating local, we found a great pizzeria (Pizzeria Caracciolo) and made ourselves at home on several nights. This was certainly one of the best pizzas we ate while in Italy. When David tried to video the owner, David was asked to not post the video (we suspected to protect the secrets of this great pizza!).
While Pescara is not a typical tourist spot, we found it a great base from which to explore the Abruzzo region and beyond. Even though we got funny looks at many of the places we headed into, we were welcomed and managed to get by with locals that spoke no English (and us with only a “pico” of Italian). Having a car helped us to see a broader range of sites but it did mean long days and a bit of stress from driving some hairy mountain switchback roads. We would certainly head back this way and enjoy being local!
Our next stop would be Lecce in the Puglia region.
Have you visited from Pescara by the sea in Abruzzo? What did you use as your base for exploring Abruzzo?