I’m back from vacay, tanner than a week ago and probably a few kilos heavier. If there is one true stereotype about the south of Italy, it’s that you eat well and a lot – that, and the people are super nice. Michele and I were in Silvia Marina, located a few minutes south of Pescara, in the region of Abruzzo. My cousin Silvia and her boyfriend Gianfranco were super hospitable and generous; from the first day, we felt right at home.
So let me tell you about my week:
As soon as we arrived Monday afternoon, Silvia took us to the beach. Abruzzo is famous for the national parks and lots of green spaces. This beach, called the Pineta by the locals, has very few private establishments; instead it has kilometers of fine white sand and warm, blue water. After spending lots of time at the Rivieria Romagnola, the beaches of Silvi Marina were a welcomed change. While it wasn’t totally transparent, it was mossa or wavy, free of unidentified floating plant life and had a beautiful aquamarine color rather than an uninspiring brown.
We made a trip the following day to Lago di Scanno, which is up in the mountains behind Silvi. We arrived around 6, had an apperitivo in a bar nearby and then watched the sunset over the lake. The colors were amazing and while the air was crisp after the recent downpour, the view made up for it. As if the aperitivo wasn’t enough, we headed to a very traditional restaurant – the kind where they don’t have menus and when they run out of the ingredients, basta, no more of that special. The name was in dialect Scannese, and I don’t remember it, but my cousins referred to it as the restaurant with the boar; in fact, protruding from the wall was half of a stuffed boar, and the primo we had was pasta with porcini mushrooms and boar ragù. To top off the meal, we tried a homemade digestif typical of Abruzzo, genziana. It was a yellow color, extremely bitter and left a really earthy aftertaste. The owner of the restaurant then proceeded to present us with various other digestives, including a liquor made of prunes which wasn’t half bad. We stayed and chatted with my cousins and their friends way into the night, then headed back to Silvi on the winding mountain roads.
Another afternoon, we headed to one of the only rocky beaches near Silvi with some light scuba gear to look at all the marine life. Seeing the little fish swimming around our feet was incredible and there was a big line of large boulders covered in algae farther from the shore where fish and crabs swam and crawled around. Later that night, we headed to a burger shack called “Johnny Be Good” near the lungomare or boardwalk of Silvi. The owner of the restaurant is a friend of my cousins’ and greeted us with four pints of beer as soon as we sat down. The atmosphere of the restaurant was that of an American diner, with license plates, motorcycle parts and photos of famous boxers hanging on the wall. The hamburgers were a-m-a-z-a-z-i-n-g. The meat is purchased fresh daily from one of the most expensive and respected butchers in Silvi. I had a 150g burger with pancetta, beans and barbeque sauce (and fries, obviously). We ended the evening with more beer and a round of darts (which I lost).
My cousins are big motorcycle fanatics, especially of Triumph machines. We got to ride on the back of them a few times and the final time was to a restaurant in the center of Silvi Marina called Kilometro 431. It’s famous for it’s lamb-meat skewers called arrosticini – I highly recommend you try them out when you’re in the area. There are many varieties, but that night we tried the normal meat as well as the liver, both on skewers and grilled over an open flame and then brought to the table in this ceramic jug, wrapped in aluminum. It’s like the world’s most delicious present.
And now I’m back in Bologna. In my flight to the US leave Tuesday morning, so I’ve only got about a week to get my fill of la dotta e la grassa città. I’ve got a jam-packed week ahead, including a trip to Mirabilandia, the amusement park in Ravenna, and catching up with more friends from my study abroad program. These past 2 months have flown by, and I know this week will as well. I can only thank the universe that things worked out the way they did and I was able to work and play this summer.