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 visited because they had relatives or ancestors in the area. But there was 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. There was only a tiny old town left standing. They invited us to relax and enjoy being locals – and we did!
A Great Welcome In Pescara
We upgraded our hotel to be in the town rather than in the resort area of Francavilla di Mare. This ensured we got air conditioning and not the “climate control” we found on our visit to Igea Marina on the Italian Riviera.
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 we needed 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 would 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 Fabio provided. And he did not disappoint. He was always on the ball, was proactive about anticipating and meeting our needs. Fabio had strong opinions on where we should eat and visit. And where we should not!
Fabio was a great source of input for our day trips. And most particularly what local foods we should try. 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 By The Sea
Walking along the water line in Pescara by the sea we reached the main port area and strolled on the panoramic bridge that crossed 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 dismantled the wooden umbrellas as few tourists settled onto towels on the sand. On our first day we were a bit concerned with the empty beach. We found a deserted beach town when we visited the ghost town of Igea Marina. But we found Pescara by the sea lively despite the empty beach.
We were warned that Sunday was a quiet shopping day since most Italians took it as a day for rest. So we planned to be lazy for the day. The stores and many restaurants were mostly closed. But the downtown was crowded with people. Except for nap time in the afternoon, it seemed that everyone was out walking and enjoyed 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 went around and a few kids were still on it.
We felt perfectly Italian as we strolled with the others. David danced with me to the great violin concert performed in the street. The young girls following us applauded and smiled.
Fun Street Art Finds
We were always amused when we unexpectedly found street art on our travels. On our stay in Pescara, we found an interesting set of murals as we strolled one night.
Local Food And Drink
David enjoyed his chats with the bartender Adriano. He made us an Aperol 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.
An Aperol Spritz become my nightly treat. Adriano worked both the night bar and breakfast. So David chatted with him almost every day and probed more about Italian life. Adriano scribbled names on a piece of paper as he added new things that we should try.
We ate local specialties on 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 on our 10 weeks in Italy. When David tried to video the owner, David was asked to not post the video. We suspected he wanted to protect the secrets of this great pizza!
Along The Coast From Pescara By The Sea
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. We found lots to see and do.
One day we went south along the coast as far as Puglia. Along the way we stopped in Ortona, Termoli and Ischitella. We saw the forts that protected the Adriatic coast. And many more local sights.
Our trip north along the coast took us to the hill fortress of Civitella del Tronto. We wandered up the town streets to the top where the old fort was. Later we found the escalator that provided an easier if not prettier way to the top.
Day Trips from Pescara Into The Hills
Our trip into the Gran Sasso mountain region took us to the highest fort in the region on top of Rocca Calascio. We wanted in the lower town. And then climbed the rocks to the fort and church that stood in the swirling fog.
On that drive into the Gran Sasso area of Abruzzo we stopped for emotional look at the earthquake recovery in L’Aquila. It was sad when we learned that there could have been so much less life lost.
Pescara by the sea was a great spot to use as a base to explore the Abruzzo area of Italy. And to wander north and south along the coast.
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. We knew people looked at us weirdly when we ate this early. But we figured it would be a long multi-course dinner and 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.
On our seaside visits we learned never to get seafood on Monday because nobody fishes on Sunday. But we had 3 fresh seafood courses on a Wednesday night and were in heaven. Our dinner was topped by a great flambé show which created a perfect orange chocolate crepe.
At home in Canada, almost nobody drank rose wine at the time. Our local Abruzzo rose wine that night would remove the stigma of rose wine. And it changed 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. The blue skies were matched only by the blue aqua water. On the one partial rain day we lazed and got caught up on writing and pics.
While Pescara was 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 meant 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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