Have you ever had one of those weeks in which you think that you might not be able to hold it together? I think we all have them. Those are the weeks when we need our go-to friends. One of my best friends now lives in another state and really, I miss her pretty much every day. It was great to see her last week, but it took me over an hour in traffic to get into the city after work. That’s how much I love her. And I love her even more for writing a guest post for me this week. Enjoy another visit to Italy!
Italy had not been on my A-list of European countries to visit. I am a rabid Anglophile, and also took five years of French in school, so both of those countries are higher on my list of vacation destinations. I have been to England three times, but never to France.
Then our friends Linda and Tim, who travel to Italy every year, proposed a group trip to a part of Italy that they had heard about but never visited. The chance to travel with them and several other friends, was too good to pass up, so May saw twelve of us flying to Rome, crowding into three cars, and driving about two hours west to the region of Abruzzo.
Abruzzo is not on the radar for most Americans. In a way this is a shame, since it is a beautiful but somewhat impoverished area, which could use the tourist dollars. On the other hand, it is refreshingly unspoiled and free from the usual tourist crowds.
We spent four days in Sulmona, a town of about 25,000 people. This town, by the way, was the filming location of a recent George Cluny movie, The American.
After Sulmona we traveled north to the tiny town of Civitella del Tronto. This is located between the Grand Sasso mountain range and the Adriatic Sea.
As we approached you could see the town perched precariously on the side of a hill, under the looming walls of a huge ruined fort.
Following the road through the medieval gate into the town, we arrived at the Hotel Zunica 1880, our base for the next three days. The Hotel was wonderful. It offered gourmet food, cooking classes, and tours of nearby vineyards and olive groves, as well as views of the Adriatic from our room, but the high point of the visit, to me, was the town itself.
All the buildings were made of old, old stone that looked piled together in no particular order. Streets were narrow, with stairs that went up, and ramps that went down, and nooks and crannies everywhere. Ruins were next door to rehabs, and they all had breathtaking views of the valley below.
The town was a fairy tale place, and I fell in love.