Marco and Katri will meet you at 10:30am this morning at Tiburtina Train Station in Rome (unless otherwise stipulated). We recommend spending the previous night in Rome to recover from your journey to Italy. Together, we will board our comfortable minibus or van, and enjoy the stunning countryside as we head into the region of Abruzzo.
Lunch will be in the foothills of Abruzzo, along the way to our beautiful, characteristic accommodation, which will be home to us for the next four nights. We will be joined by our local guide who will accompany us for our journey, speaking of the culture, art, and history, along the way.
There will be time to settle in to your private rooms and refresh before we take a leisurely walk to find the hidden hermitages, the Hermitage of San Bartolomeo, and the Hermitage of Santo Spirito a Majella. In amongst the hills and wildflowers we will come across the hermitages built into the side of rocky cliff-faces.
Dinner tonight will be typical Abruzzese dishes made from local produce.
Enjoy a leisurely morning before we join our hosts for a fun cooking class. They will teach us how to cook some regional specialty dishes using seasonal produce, while sipping on a glass of prosecco of course! Lunch will follow.
In the afternoon, we will visit the hilltop village of Bucchianico, where we will spend a relaxing and indulgent time with the locals. We will meet with Francesca, a producer of fine extra virgin olive oil. In her private ancient frantoio, (olive oil factory) that has been in her family for generations, she will teach us all about extra virgin olive oil, with tastings.
A little way down the narrow lane and around the corner, we will descend the stairs into an ancient cellar that has been turned into an enoteca (wine bar). Here, we will enjoy an educational wine tasting with the enoteca’s own charismatic host.
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Today, we will venture into the “Golden Triangle” known for producing the best quality extra virgin olive oil in Abruzzo. We will visit Loreto Aprutino, a charming hilltop village where Marco and Katri have their home. In Loreto Aprutino, we will visit a museum to see the most extensive collection of Castelli Ceramics, and an ancient fantoio (olive oil factory) with a distinct gothic facade.
We will eat lunch like real locals today, by enjoying incredibly delicious porchetta panini. Porchetta panino is a type of sandwich made with crusty bread and filled with slow-roasted pork and flavoured with herbs and spices, from a local vendor in the main piazza. Wash down your panino with a beer, when we visit our neigbour’s birroteca in the historical centre.
This afternoon will be spent as afternoons should, sipping wine at a local winery. We will learn about the production of the typical wines: Trebbiano D’Abruzzo, Pecorino, and the renowned red wine, Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, explore the grounds and taste some exceptional examples of these varieties.
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Today, we will leave the mountains and foothills behind and head to the coast. With the glittering Adriatic Sea on our left, rolling hills lined with olive groves and vineyards and the Majella mountain on our right, the drive is simply stunning! We will visit the Abby of San Giovanni in Venere, perched up high overlooking the Adriatic Sea.
We will travel along the 15 km of pebbled coastline, known as the Costa dei Trabocchi (Trabocchi Coast). All along the coastline are the traditional fishing houses that sit out over the water, called Trabocco, or Trabocchi (plural). Most are over 130 years old and they are unique to Abruzzo.
Lunch today will be a truly unique experience. We will dine on our favourite Trabocco restaurant and enjoy a seafood feast on the trabocco itself, surrounded by water. After a demonstration of how the trabocchi are used to catch seafood, we will enjoy traditional dishes such as brodetto di pesce (seafood stew) served in earthenware dishes, and fritto misto (fried gourmet-sized seafood, such as calamari, scampi and fish).
In the afternoon, we will spend time at Marco’s family’s beach establishment in Pescara, where we can enjoy a swim, a stroll along the lively beach, or just relax beneath an umbrella, Italian style! Nearby, the famous De Cecco family, of pasta fame, have their own beach establishment. Keep a lookout on the beach for the young man with the traditional granita cart!
We will take a drive along the Pescara Riviera, then make a quick stop at the best Gelateria in Pescara, owned by Marco’s cousins, before returning to our charming accommodation.
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Today, we say goodbye to our hosts and to the foothills of Abruzzo, and head inland, to the town of Sulmona. In Piazza Garibaldi, overlooked by mountains, we will enjoy the theatrics of the farmer’s market and check out the local produce, such the renowned platted garlic, called Aglio Rosso di Sulmona.
We will wander through the streets with Pelini Confetti (sugared almonds which featured at Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s wedding reception) on display, and refill our water bottles with the fresh mountain water from the renaissance fountain, supplied by the medieval aqueduct.
After we have explored Sulmona, we will venture a way up into the Marrone mountain to the village of Pacentro. Pacentro has been awarded the title of ‘I Borghi Piu Belli d’Italia’ (One of the most beautiful villages in Italy). Pacentro has been a mountain retreat since Roman times, and more recently, it is known for being the birthplace of (the singer) Madonna’s grandparents. After lunching at a locally renowned restaurant, we will visit Caldora Castle, with its towers that give the village its distinct silhouette, and a little house that has remained unchanged for hundreds of years.
From Pacentro, we will to head to the medieval village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio. Santo Stefano di Sessanio is another village with the prestigious title of ‘I Borghi Piu Belli d’Italia’ set within the Gran Sasso National Park, which will be our home from the next two nights.
After settling into your characteristic accommodation within the village walls, you will have time to wander the cobbled alleyways, and visit the stores to meet the local artisans for a first-hand look at the wonderful crafts and food produced in the area. Most notably are the production of honey, farro, chickpeas and a smaller version of brown lentil, for which this region is famous. The production of wool has been an important commodity in the area for thousands of years and we will meet local heroes carrying on the traditional way of dying the wool using natural, traditional means.
Dinner will be at a charming restaurant in the village.
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This morning we leave Santo Stefano di Sessanio for the day and head into one of the highest pastures of Europe, the alpine meadow of Campo Imperatore, known fondly as “Italy’s Little Tibet”. Here, at 1800m above sea level, we can see the highest peak in the Apennines, The Corno Grande. Campo Imperatore is home to one of Italy’s oldest ski resorts and its hotel was once Benito Mussolini’s prison until he was found and freed by German commandos in 1943.
We will enjoy an alfresco lunch in the plateau, of Abruzzo’s most famous dish, arrosticini (sheep’s meat skewers) at an old set used to film “spaghetti westerns”. While the arrosticini cook over the coals, we can gaze at the shepherds and their maremma sheep dogs tending to their flocks, at the wild horses and the beautiful array of wildflowers out over the plateau.
Later this afternoon, we take a leisurly walk up to the nearby impressive tenth century Fortress of Rocca Calascio, at 1460, above sea level. We will observe a stunning sunset over the Gran Sasso…. sipping a glass of prosecco, of course!
Dinner will be in the tiny village at the foot of the fortress.
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After breakfast, we head towards the Navelli Plateau, in Abruzzo’s ‘Saffron Valley’, where the world’s most sought after saffron is grown. Our host Francesco, will guide us through the fields and the secrets of mastering this very precious spice, from its delicate blossom, to dressing our risotto.
We will join Chef Nello, at this restaurant nearby, for a Saffron Masterclass and lunch.
In the afternoon, we meet Marinella and Alessandro at their farm in Castel Del Monte. They will speak with us about their lives on their farm and their struggles to keep their flock and pigs safe from the Abruzzese Wolves. A short drive will take us to their store in the village where we will be served a selection of their salumi and cheeses and local wine.
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Today, you will have another truly unique experience! We will leave the Santo Stefano di Sessanio and the Grand Sasso National Park and drive to Anversa degli Abruzzi, at the doorstep to the National Park of Abruzzo. In Anversa degli Abruzzi, we will be the guests at a Bio-Agritourismo (Bio-organic Farm). We will accompany the shepherds into the national park, to graze their sheep in the fields, breathe in the in the pristine alpine air and enjoy the splendid views of the mountains all around. These areas are rich in truffles and we will have a demonstration of how dogs are used to find them hidden beneath the ground, and hopefully we will find some to enjoy with our lunch!
Back at the farm is where the sheep and goats are milked to make first class ricotta and pecorino cheese. Its quality is so revered, that it is used in the best restaurants in New York and even served at the Whitehouse. We will each get to make our own cheese, learning at the hands of these masters.
We will enjoy lunch in the farm’s own restaurant onsite, where they use only their own or local produce. We will sample the farm’s array of salumi and cheeses. Our favourite is the ricotta lightly smoked, with juniper berries.
Tonight, we will stay in our lovely B&B accommodation in Barrea, overlooking the lake.
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Breakfast at our accommodation in Barrea, will be in the garden, with a gorgeous view overlooking the lake. Today, our local guide will share her favorite village in Abruzzo with us, Pescocostanzo. Pescocostanzo is a ski resort village, also bestowed with the title of “I Borghi Piu Belli d’Italia” and is home to many important Renaissance and Baroque monuments. In one of Abruzzo’s most interesting churches, Basilica di Santa Maria del Colle, we can see exceptional examples of the marble work that was once an important craft in this village.
This afternoon, we will visit a reserve where we will have the chance to see the pack of Apennine Mountain Wolves, who live there.
Dinner tonight is in Barrea, and can include the locally caught trout.
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This morning, we have time to pack before we leave our lovely accommodation in Barrea. Sit back and enjoy the relaxing drive through the national park, to the ancient village of Scanno. We will enjoy a tasting of handmade cakes and explore the village in search of the elderly women who still wear the traditional dresses of Scanno. In an artisan jewellery store, we will learn about the trade that Scanno is famous for, handmade filigree jewellery. We will learn about the presentosa worn by the married women, and watch a demonstration using age-old tools. You might even find a special piece just for yourself.
After Lunch, we will board our minibus or van for the last time, and bid farewell to wonderful Abruzzo. In Rome, we will depart at Termini Train Station, in the afternoon.
Or, if you are joining us for a Tour of Basilicata & Puglia, we will be driven to Matera, or head back to Pescara, where we will board our train.
Please note that the details of this itinerary may vary.
Upcoming Tour Dates
17th – 26th September 2019
21st – 30th July 2020
14th – 23rd September 2020
*Currently taking requests for 2020
10 Day Tour Pricing
from $6,000 AUD per person twin share
from $4,850 USD per person twin share
from $1200 AUD
from $970 USD
Termini Train Station in Rome.
Fully escorted tour, local English speaking tour guides, bus/train station transfers, private air conditioned minibus/van, charming and well appointed accommodations with private ensuite, all meals and drinks with meals including table wine, entry fees and activities.
Vegetarian meals and food allergies can be catered to.
Air fares, travel insurance, food and beverage outside of meal times unless stated in itinerary, personal purchases, personal phone calls, personal travel costs, personal laundry.