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.

Wine Roads

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

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.

Olive Roads

Old Olives in Moscufo

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.

Museum of Olive Oil in Loreto Aprutino

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 breeding.

«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,

©, 2010