The Magic of Abruzzo Blog
"We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us." Anonymous
"We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us." Anonymous
Roccacasale, Italy boasts the most stunning views of the valley from its castle perched at the top of the village. It has tons to offer visitors who enjoy authentic Italian rural life.
Visit Roccacasale and see for yourself.
Here’s 15 reasons you should choose to visit Roccacasale and the region of Abruzzo, Italy
1. Travel the long country roads that wind through the Peligna Valley…watch out for sheep on the road and meet the shepherd!
2. Take in the mountain views at every corner …
3. and dream of owning an Italian villa nestled in the picturesque countryside …
4. or just take a short hike up to the castle in Roccacasale and look out over the Peligna Valley …
5. It’s so easy to hop on the train to the scenic Adriatic coast …
6. visit some of the pebbly hidden away beaches … in San Vito along the trabocchi coast.
7. or follow one of the many coastal paths by bike …
8. Why not be adventurous and paddle away on a river kayak?
9. Abruzzo is home to three National Parks, you can take a challenging hike across a river gorge …
10. sit by the River Tirone, and just watch the natural world pass by …
11. or indulge in a bit of wild swimming (if it’s not too cold for you) …
12. Dine at one of Roccacasale’s restaurants or pizzerias tucked away in the countryside…
13. Try Abruzzo’s famous arrosticini and a glass of Montipulciano D’ Abruzzo wine
14. Or maybe you prefer hot pasta served handmade to order.
15. And finally, don’t miss staying at La Rocca Mia House B&B in the village of Roccacasale and let us show you what we mean!
Call now to reserve your comfortable room with a view of the castle of Roccacasale.
Ours is such a unique region in Italy and in homage to this fact, Domenico has rounded up his favorite ‘Only in Abruzzo’ experiences.
1. Zip-Line through a huge gorge in the Majella National Park in full view of “one of the world's most beautiful villages in Italy - Pacentro”.
2. Explore nature and beautiful landscapes while hiking the wild canyons of Monte Morrone – the sacred mountain of the hermitage of Celestine V – the mountain enchanted by legends of fairies and witches.
3. Watch the sunset, feel the sea breeze and dine on a seafood feast in a traditional fisherman’s trabocchi on the Adriatic Sea.
4. Do sundowners in the Castel De Sanctis castle overlooking Roccacasale and the Peligna Valley.
5. Marvel at the Roman ruins in the town of Corfinio (the first capital of Italy) and browse its museum where you can see the first coin minted with the word Italia on it.
6. Dine at a traditional shepherd’s table – with true farm to table service.
7. Kayak or canoe on the crystal clear waters of the Tirino River then stop for a fresh grilled trout lunch.
8. Hunt for Truffles with the dogs as they joyfully run around in an oak tree grove sniffing for their precious treat.
"Margaret emailed us beforehand to see what we were interested in, coming up with a suggested but flexible itinerary for everyone - much appreciated. We enjoyed intriguing castles, churches and unspoilt villages in the mountains, kayaking, paddle boating, swimming in the river/local pool, picnicking, festivals, winery, sugared almond factory, markets, relaxing and of course eating, drinking and talking - we quickly learnt that wherever we went, someone would stop and chat with Margaret or Domenico. But the highlight had to be meeting their family and friends and cooking with them (and my hubby getting down and dirty with an apron in the kitchen - a sight never before seen)." Lisa L. an Australian living in Qatar
Email us to get started on an itinerary which includes these 'Only in Abruzzo' experiences that will prove to be a holiday of a lifetime!
Click here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Easter is just around the corner. Spring is in the air!
It is time to start thinking about baking that special Easter bread.
There are many different types of Italian Easter Bread but most are made with the following ingredients:
flour, oil, sugar, eggs, yeast and milk. Modern recipes are adding Pecorino, Parmigiano or another types of hard cheese.
Watch the videos below and see how our neighbor Rosa makes this traditional Italian Easter treat.
According to religious tradition, the Pizza di Pasqua should be prepared on Monday, Thursday or Good Friday to be eaten at breakfast on Easter Sunday.
Once ready, it was customary to bring the Pizza di Pasqua to the church, so that it would be blessed together with the other foods to be consumed on Easter day, but this doesn’t happen much today.
Though traditionally served at breakfast on Easter morning, it is also served as an appetizer during Easter lunch, it is accompanied by blessed boiled eggs, ciauscolo (a type of soft salami typically found in the region of Le Marche) and red wine.
Pizza Di Pasqua di Abruzzo
1 kg flour
6 eggs plus one yolk
250 g milk
250 g sugar
250 g vegetable oil
2 cubes fresh yeast
Zest of one lemon
1 tsp. vanilla
1. Dissolve the yeast in tepid milk.
2. Add all the other ingredients.
3. Mix with a fork.
4. Work with the dough with your hands for 15-20 minutes on a floured surface.
5. Divide into two parts.
6. Using parchment paper in a shallow pan, place your dough onto the pan.
7. Brush on the egg yolk and add sprinkles and/or colored eggs.
8. Let rise for 3-4 hours.
9. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 180C.
ENJOY!! BUONA PASQUA
To watch a video of Rosa making this bread go to:
Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2_ouZtVPdg
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0A2p5uN06o
Part 3: https://youtu.be/oiefkrZ3V4I
Visit us during the Easter season and we’ll invite Rosa over to teach you to bake this lovely Easter Bread.
DON’T MISS OUT ON OUR EASTER EXPERIENCES: Just click on our Facebook cover photo “Experience Easter with Us” for all the details. Go to our FACEBOOK page here.
5 of Abruzzo’s Must-See Religious Sites
In Italy, Christianity is found not only in the Churches, but in the basic fabric of everyday life. The architecture and art in every town, village and hamlet (no matter how big or small) is related to the Church. Most events are marked by religious recurrences, the majority of the fairs and festivals around the country are related to Christian saints.
There are numerous religious sites in Abruzzo that remind us of Italy’s religious roots.
#1 Hermitage of San Domenico, Villalago
The Hermitage of San Domenico is located just outside the village of Villalago, on the Lake of San Domenico. According to tradition, in the 10th century, Saint Domenico dug the cave in which he lived as a hermit. Later, San Domenico’s retreat became a place of worship for many and a beautiful little church (chapel) was built as a tribute to him. At the rear of the church, is a door to a steep, narrow staircase that leads to the dark cavern where San Domenico once slept.
#2 The Church of Santa Maria Assunta and the Oratory of San Pellegrino
Located in the hamlet of Bominaco is one of Abruzzo's best-kept secrets. It includes two very different churches and the remains of a castle. All belonging to a powerful monastery which was the seat of power in this area from the 8th century through to its rebellion and destruction in the 1400s. The church of Santa Maria Assunta, with its Romanesque architecture and the important frescoes, sits on the hill above the small hamlet. What is most remarkable are the stone columns inside, each one decorated with a different crown.
The smaller chapel, often called the ‘Sistine Chapel of Abruzzo', is painted with the most wonderfully dramatic frescoes depicting the life of Jesus, which cover the walls and ceiling (Childhood, the Passion, and the Final Judgment). Of particular interest are the frescoes that illustrate a monastic calendar on two opposite walls of the eastern part of the church. These special places of worship were a stopping point for those who followed the path of a sheep track that passes through the area.
#3 The Hermitage of Sant'Onofrio al Morrone
The Hermitage of Sant'Onofrio al Morrone is a religious building that has been a national monument since 1902. It is located on the slopes of the Morrone Mountain, near Sulmona dating back to the thirteenth century. It houses the memory of Pietro Angelerio (or Pietro da Morrone ), the hermit friar who lived there and who became pope in 1294 with the name of Celestino V – he later became a saint .
The hermitage can be reached by a steep path. It is an easy to walk, and leads from the hamlet of Badia to the eastern edge of the Peligna Valley up to the altitude of 620 meters. Below this church there is an old Roman temple. The local villagers of the valley go here the day after Easter. They walk from Pratola all the way up to the hermitage to pray and then to have a picnic.
#4 Santuario del Volto Santo
The small town of Manoppello has recently come to fame as the home of the reported Veil of Veronica. Somewhat forgotten over the centuries, this is the cloth reportedly given to Jesus to wipe his face as he carried his cross to Calvary. Although it is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, it was a widespread belief that it existed.
In the basilica, behind the alter, you will find the image of the Holy Face (Volto Santo). It is similar to the more famous Shroud of Turin. The image that appears is not painted on the surface, but is part of the cloth itself. You are able to walk up to the framed Volto Santo which is surrounded by glass.
#5 The Abbey of Santo Spirito al Morrone
The Abbey of Santo Spirito al Morrone is the most important and famous settlement of the Congregation of the Celestines as well as the center of cultural, religious and civil life.
This monumental complex, which occupies an area of 16,600 square meters, is located just 5 km from the center of Sulmona in Badia. Its origins are linked to Pietro di Angelerio, Benedictine monk, and hermit, who was also founder of the Celestini order and Pope with the name of Celestino V. This complex has been used for numerous purposes since it was founded, one of which was a prison.
Feast of Madonna della Libera
Every year in the month of May, an exciting religious event that takes place in Domenico’s hometown of Pratola Peligna called the Feast of Madonna Della Libera.
We invite you to join us for the Feast of Madonna Della Libera. This is a two-week-long event that starts with the novena (9 days of solemn prayers) and finishes with a celebration that the entire village takes part in.
The program is divided between religious and civil events. There are many processions through the streets along with the local band and the village priest. On the non-religious side there are DJ’s and special concerts in the evenings with dancing and singing in the streets. There are also special activities for children and a huge fireworks display.
On Friday, the pilgrims (young and old) begin a historic journey from Gioia Dei Marsi and walk for about 14 hours until they reach the village of Pratola. All of the village awaits the pilgrims’ arrival. The people wait at the entrance to the village (the priest, the people, and the band) walk with them to the church. As the pilgrims arrive, they sing the song of the Madonna Della Libera. The pilgrims proceed onto their knees for the last 50 meters to the church alter where they kiss the painting of the Madonna. The pilgrims stay for the weekend to celebrate with the town and then return to Gioia Dei Marsi on Sunday.
These are just a few of the many celebrations that tie religion to everyday life in our beautiful region of Abruzzo… come visit us and experience some or all for yourself!
Domenico Explains Easter in Abruzzo
Easter in Abruzzo is a special time of year. It runs a close second to Christmas in terms of importance.
Solemn religious processions are held in Italian cities and towns on the Friday or Saturday before Easter. Parade participants are often dressed in traditional ancient hooded costumes, and olive branches are often used along with palm fronds in the processions and to decorate churches. The procession starts at the church with participants carrying the statue of Jesus swaying rhythmically to solemn funeral music and a sort of crying type singing in Latin. These processions are used to remember Jesus' life through the stations of the cross.
The oldest Good Friday procession in Italy is in Chieti right here in Abruzzo. The procession, with Secchi's Miserere played by 100 violins, is very moving.
Sulmona (a small town near us) celebrates Easter Sunday with La Madonna Che Scappa in Piazza. On Easter Sunday people dress in green and white, colors of peace, hope, and resurrection, and gather in Piazza Garibaldi. The statue of the Virgin Mary is dressed in black. As she moves toward the fountain (carried by citizens in green), doves are released and the statue is suddenly dressed in green. Music and feasting follow.
Italian children wake up on Easter morning to a boiled egg and sweet bread breakfast then it's off to church in a specially chosen elegant dress. After church, they attend the village parade (procession) and spend the day with their families. After a big lunch, the children are presented with their Easter treat. In years gone by, their grandparents or parents would give them a sweet cookie treat (made by hand) called Cavallo (horse) for the boys and Pupa (doll) for the girls. It looks like a sugar cookie in the shape of a horse or a doll, decorated with colored icing with an egg in the middle Nowadays, many children are given a commercially produced hollow chocolate eggs with a prize inside.
Traditional Easter lunch across Abruzzo includes timballo, (an Abruzzi lasagna made with white sauce, ground beef, artichokes, and zucchini), slowly cooked lamb or goat with artichokes and a special Easter bread called 'Pizza di Pasqua' and for dessert - Colomba, a dove-shaped sweet bread. 'Faidoni' is another sweet cookie made and shaped by hand that would be served to visitors during Easter week.
Easter Monday is a public holiday throughout Italy so most families set out on a family hike up to the nearest mountain and then sit down for a (hopefully) sunny afternoon picnic consisting of arrosticini or sausage on the grill, cheese, and Pizza di Pasqua. Some cities hold dances, free concerts, or unusual games, often involving eggs. There is always a band in the piazza and of course, wine.
Discover Easter in Rural Italy
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About the author
This blog is curated by Margaret Gigliotti, B&B owner, teacher, explorer, wine drinker and creative writer.
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