Pescara is a beach town in the area of Abruzzo, Italy, located on the Adriatic coast about halfway down the back of “the boot.” The beaches are sandy, but when you turn around you will see snow capped mountains inland. The Abruzzo region is now my favorite part of Italy. Imagine Tuscany with bigger mountains and gorgeous light blue and green water all along the coast.
Several characters joined me on this adventure. First we have TP, who came all the way from Blacksburg for this race and shared many, many race related facebook messages with me in the months beforehand and was a constant source of support for me. RH lives in Vicenza with me and is always up for any adventure and will always make me laugh. MS was supposed to race but broken collarbones mean you can’t, but he was the best support ever- cheering, taking pictures, and driving us around when we were too tired. Thank you. TF was doing his first half ironman in Pescara, and made sure that we all understood the significance of proper eye contact during ” cin cin.” JG, the triathlon wizard, came down to hang out and watch the race. Our friend AF is from Pescara, and came down to host us on Saturday night. And then BM surprised us on Sunday at the race start! He just finished his 3rd half Ironman in three weeks.
Pescara is a five hour drive from Vicenza. There was a traffic accident that closed the highway, so we all got out of the cars and sat on the autostrada for an hour until we could move again. Thank goodness we had cherries and Fritos to sustain us.
Once we arrived in Pescara, we unloaded and went to dinner. This restaurant, Marevigiloso, was recommended by AF, and it did not disappoint. We were provided with an amazing spread of local seafood delicacies. Now the only problem is that we had a race on Sunday, so trying new foods is sort of a no-no, and then when you have two DVMs who have taken food safety courses, you certainly won’t find them eating any raw seafood. We did debate the fact that the race is wetsuit legal, so Vibrio shouldn’t be a problem, but did we really want to chance it? Also, I did not know you could eat shrimp raw. The food kept coming, and we eventually had to say stop. After dinner we were presented with another local delicacy, simply known as “zuccherino.”
An innocent looking mason jar with liquid, some orange slices, and sugar cubes was presented. The restaurant owner spooned it into our mouths and told us just to eat it quickly, so we did. This is because it is actually a sugar cube soaked in grain alcohol. I believe the quote was, “This tastes like a frat house.” Our mouths were numb for a good twenty minutes after this treat. No pictures exist because it happened too fast and clearly no one was able to go for round two.
Saturday was full of race day prep, including a practice swim and gear bag drop offs.
Saturday evening we went into the hills to visit a friend’s family, who work at a winery called La Valentina. This place was very cool- some rustic elements and then some very modern architecture and decorating touches. Let’s just say that it is a shame that was pre-race dinner, because the wine was flowing and it was delicious. If you see their “Spelt” wine anywhere, GRAB IT IMMEDIATELY. We also got to taste a special moscato that is only for the family. The hospitality we were given was over the top and we were so welcomed. Our friend’s mother prepared a several course feast that was superb, especially the lamb kebabs.
Sunday was race day!! If you are interested in the details of my race, you can click here to read them. Summary: Swim- insane weather, did not count. Bike- windy but sunny, hilly hard course, I was really proud of myself. Run- poured rain, internal dark place, finally finished. Would have been a best time so that is awesome.
Post race dinner was beers and burgers at an American diner. DELICIOUS.
Monday and Tuesday were made for relaxing. Leisurely lunch along the beach, followed by some reading in the sun. Can we talk about something that makes no sense to me? Why, Italy, are you SO disorganized about basically everything. Everything. But your beaches are lined up with precise, evenly spaced chairs and umbrellas and finely groomed sand? Now, the beach attendants will still put you right next to the only other group on the beach, and they will pretty much definitely blow their cigarette smoke on you while you are sitting there, but still. It amazes me that this is the one thing that is uber detail oriented in a place that can seem/is actually somewhat chaotic.
The girls and I also visited two wineries in the region. If you take a trip to Abruzzo, I recommend each of these places for an educational tour and wonderful tasting. Our first winery was called Societa Agricola Chiarieri. Francesco, the 4th generation to work here after his great grandfather founded it, guided our tour and tasting. We were accompanied by Emmanuele, who also shared information with us. The spread of bread, olive oil, cheese and meats that accompanied the wine was unreal. My favorite here was the Vinnum Hannibal, which is a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. I don’t know why I did not take more pictures. The property and tasting room were beautiful, and had a really interesting display explaining the soil and lattice types used for the grapes.
The grounds of this winery were covered in fruit trees, so we enjoyed peaches and plums straight off of the tree. Francesco’s hospitality was warm and generous and a visit is a must if you are in this region.
Our second winery visit was to Nestore Bosco. Giovanna was our host, and she gave a wonderful tour of a place that has been in operation since 1897. The facility is beautiful. My favorite wines here were also a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, as well as a white called Trebbiano. I bought this wine box and I am going to try and make a sunglasses case out of it.
After Bosco, we explored a small town called Nocciano for a little. Iphone pictures cannot do it justice.
And there was this puppy. She wanted to come home with us but for some reason we did not take her.
My overall impression of this region of Italy is that the people are warm and friendly, and the landscape cannot be beat. Mountains, vineyards, miles of beaches, coupled with fresh seafood and amazing wine… Certainly a winning combination and worth a visit.