Exploring Abruzzo Region From Pescara By The Sea
People kept asking us why we chose Pescara by the sea as a stop. It worried us for a while. We wondered 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 required 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 who practiced next door. Whether as a professional singer or just as a happy Italian, we often heard men singing out loud!
We were welcomed by Fabio. All TripAdvisor reports talked about the great service we would get from Fabio. And he did 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 Around Pescara
Walking along the water line in Pescara by the sea we reached the main port area and strolled on the panoramic bridge crossing the river. As promised, we saw the town of Pescara spread out before us with the gently rolling hills behind it.
We wandered down to the beach and found 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 found this town to be lively despite the empty beach.
We were warned that Sunday was 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 were 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.
Enjoying Life Like A Local
Returning from an early pizza dinner after 8pm we found the main streets full. Old people walked hand in hand, kids played on the street, young adults perched on stools with a drink and the old men sat on the benches and watched 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 performed in the street, the young girls following us applauded and smiled.
David enjoyed his chats with the bartender Adriano. He made us an Aperole Spritz for our welcome drink. It was a mix of Aperol, Prosecco and soda water. This helped to explain the profusion of orange drinks we saw everywhere. Apparently Aperol was the drink of the summer. This 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 scribbled 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 of Pescara by the sea 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. We were 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.
We Loved Our Visit To Pescara By The Sea
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 after Pescara by the sea was Lecce in the Puglia region.
Have you visited Pescara by the sea in Abruzzo? What did you use as your base for exploring Abruzzo?
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