Wine and Gastronomic Routes
The Abruzzian cuisine can be characterized by a rich range of tastes and ancient
traditions. The Abruzzesi are famous as great chefs all over Italy and abroad
for their skills and creative imagination. When Catherine of Medici married
King Henry II, she brought to Paris a few chefs from Abruzzo. Abruzzian
native Luigi Turco had been a chef in the White House in the time of President
Eisenhower. Even now the Abruzzian origin is the best reference for getting
a job in a prestigious Italian restaurant.
Particular qualities of the local cuisine are strongly connected with the
geographical location of the region. Two-thirds of Abruzzo are occupied by
mountains, where countless sheep herds are grazed. In mountainous areas,
all kinds of lamb and feta cheese are staple foods. Only one per cent of
the region falls on a 130-kilometer coastal zone which abundantly supplies
the Abruzzesi with seafood. And finally, a third of the territory between
the mountains and the sea is occupied by hills covered with vineyards and
olive groves. Thus, in the Abruzzian cuisine dominate meat and fish dishes,
and famous Abruzzian wines and olive oil make an integral part of every meal.
Crystal clear mountain rivers are rich in trout and crayfish. And finally,
the Abruzzesi cultivate such rare delicacies and spices, like truffles and saffron.
Not surprisingly, the locals are well known as refined gourmets. In former days, the extreme
manifestation of the gluttony was so-called panarda, i.e. a
feast, consisting of 30-40 courses and lasting almost all day long.
Although nowadays the Abruzzesi normally do not afford such a luxury,
they are very sensitive to the process of cooking and eating. It is no
mere chance that they especially appreciate so-called «typical products»
(prodotti tipici), which are characteristic for the whole region as well
as local areas. There is an extensive network of small specialized shops,
which are called «Prodotti tipici», and many supermarkets have special departments.
Prices for typical products are much higher than that of ordinary products.
Another manifestation of their concern for healthy and delicious food is popularity
of fruits, vegetables and grains which are grown organically without chemical
fertilizers. Environmentally friendly products are cultivated by organic farming,
and are more expensive than usual products.
Every Abruzzian province develops its own wine and gastronomic routes comprising
visits to farms and tasting products, as well as historic sites. There are routes
dedicated to all sorts of typical products. For example, wine, olive, dairy,
grain roads, etc. In addition, there are local festivals (feste and sagre) of
typical products which usually take place in summer and autumn. The most
interesting tours are dedicated to wine and olive oil tasting.
Grapes have been cultivated on the Abruzzian territory since the Roman Empire.
The climate and topography of the region are favorable for optimal maturation of grapes.
The best vineyards are situated on hill slopes facing the Adriatic Sea. Red, white and rose
wines of Abruzzo have won international recognition.
The region produces three kinds of the DOC category wines (Denominazione di Origine
Controllata), i.e. with guarantee of origin. The most famous local wine is
Montepulciano d ′Abruzzo, which received the DOC certificate in 1968 and since then
repeatedly reaffirmed its quality. This wine has an intense ruby color, fruity
and sometimes tart taste. It is a well balanced wine and fits any dish. In the
process of aging it acquires a flavor of violets, cherries, forest berries, or licorice.
Another well-known grape variety and, therefore, wine is the Trebbiano d′Abruzzo, which
received the DOC certificate in 1972. This white wine has a straw color and delicate flavor,
and is recommended to accompany light meals. The rose wine Cerasuolo DOC is just another
version of the Montepulciano d′Abruzzo, which is produced from the same grape variety by using
a different technology.
There are six major wine routes in Abruzzo representing the most interesting wine regions
and wineyards - Controguerra, Colline del Ducato, Colline Aprutine, Tremonti e Valle Peligna,
Colline Teatine, Tratturo del Re.
Olives and grapes are eternal companions for millennia. Olives have been cultivated on the territory
of Abruzzo since time immemorial. Recently,
in the province of Chieti there was found an olive tree, which is more than
1,700 years old. Olive groves occupy an area of 50,000 hectares. Extra
virgin olive oil, produced in Abruzzo, has won a worldwide recognition.
Extra virgin olive oil is also subject to the guarantee of origin
(DOP) certification. There are three kinds of DOP certificates in Abruzzo: Aprutino-Pescarese,
Colline Teatine and Pretuziano Colline Teramane.
The town of Loreto Aprutino, which is included in the so-called «golden triangle» of
oil producers Loreto – Pianella – Moscufo, hosts an interesting museum of olive oil.
Calendar of Wine and Gastronomic Events in Abruzzo
Every year seasonal events with an explicitly gastronomic focus traditionally take place in Abruzzo.
«Cantine Aperte» – in the last weekend
of May 50 wineries open their doors for all comers to taste their products.
«Brodetto di Peshe alla Vastese» – the whole month of June the city of Vasto
on the beautiful Adriatic coast hosts a festival of traditional fish soup.
«Atri a Tavola» – at the beginning of July tasting of typical products takes place
in the Renaissance City of Atri.
«Rassegna Ovine» – in August the beautiful town of Castel del Monte,
located in the National Park Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga, hosts a fair of typical products of sheep
«Calici di Stelle» – on August 10 all Italians celebrate
the festival of stargazing, which is accompanied by tasting of wine and typical products.
«Buon Gusto – Rassegna Formaggi d′Abruzzo» – in September
the town of Gessopalena (Province of Chieti) hosts a fair of typical cheeses.
«Apertura del Novello» – on November 6 is celebrated the new wine, which is
tasted with roasted chestnuts.
In this article information was used from following sources: Guida
all′Agriturismo. Pescara, 2008; Food and Wine. Pescara, 2009; Valli E. La
cucina del mare dell’Abruzzo e del Molise. Roma, 2007,