My Mom joined Jesse and I in Rome, and after a few days there, we were on to the next stop on our May 2022 Italy summer tour, this time to the region of Abruzzo, which is east of Rome. My mom was born in a small town named Raiano. She left Italy when she was two years old, with my grandmother and her older brother (he was four) to join my grandfather in the city of Chicago, where she still resides. Jesse and I had visited Raiano three years earlier on a trip to Italy, but we were excited to be with my mom, who had never visited the town of her birth.
Raiano is not reached easily by public transport, so we rented a car at Rome airport, and we were off. Raiano does not have any hotels, so we were staying in the beachside town of Pescara (actually, slightly north of Pescara, in a small town called Montesilvano). My mom had heard from relatives over the years that many from Raiano would vacation to Pescara to take in the sun and sand, on the Adriatic Sea.
Our hotel was right on the beach, among other resort hotels. We had a room on the seventh floor, with a balcony and ocean view. My mom was in the room below us, and our first night we ate an excellent seafood dinner, with the Sea as the backdrop. We ate so many different types of fish and shellfish it is hard to recall them all. I am sure Jesse will blog about it, and include some pictures. Here was the view:
We had a beach day the next day, and since it was not June 1st yet, we had much of the beach to ourselves, sharing it with a few other people, as we watched the resorts get ready for the summer season. The hotel provided a sizable breakfast so Jesse and I had ice cream for lunch after getting too much sun at the beach. It was wonderful.
For dinner we found a local restaurant that served a local delicacy, Arrosticini’s. These are meat skewers of lamb, cut up in small, cube-like sizes and served in pieces of five or six on a wood skewer. The owner of the restaurant suggested the liver Arrosticinis, so we had to try them, and they were wonderful. Better than the lamb ones, and highly recommended. We also split a Mortadella, soft cheese and pistachio pizza, which was a good as described. The owner also gave us small drinks of Centerbe liqueur, as a digestif, which is unique to the region; it is green colored, made from herbs; the one we had possessed a slight rosemary taste, and it was a perfect cap to an excellent Abruzzo dinner.
After we walked on the beach boardwalk, talking about the excellent meal we just enjoyed. When we returned, I could not help taking some night photos of Pescara and the beach.
We were supposed to stay in Sulmona for the next two days, but we changed plans because we were enjoying the beach so much, so we stayed at our hotel and planned to visit Sulmona and Raiano the next day.
We awoke early and set out for Sulmona, about an hour away. which is famous for its candy-coated Almonds. Anyone who has been to an Italian wedding, at least in Chicagoland, has seen these almonds; my mom was responsible for providing them at our wedding. They are one of my favorite treats. Similar to Jordan Almonds but with a softer coating, they come in many flavors.
Before my Mom loaded up on Almonds to take back home, we perused the open market, that was just closing. Under old stone arches, the market surrounded a large fountain, and Jesse found a dress, and Mom a nice large purse to carry her souvenirs in. The mountains provided a lovely backdrop.
While Mom shopped, Jesse and I wandered a bit through the town, finding a statue and square devoted to Publio Ovidio Nasón, better known as the Roman Poet Ovid, who was born in Sulmona. At lunchtime the square was fairly deserted, and Jesse and I found a spot in the shade to wait for Mom.
Before we left Sulmona we stopped into the Chiesa Sant’Antonio Di Padova, which was monastery and church dating back to 1329. The front of the church is unassuming, and the chapel is not huge, but definitely is worth checking out; the ceiling of the dome is impressive, as is one of the altars on the right-hand side; it is of Mary in a cave, and unlike any altar I had seen before.
Only 15 minutes away by car, we arrived in Raiano. A bigger town than Jesse and I remembered, we stopped and had coffee while Mom called her sister, my aunt Diane. Diane had spent time in Raiano more than thirty years ago, but she still remembered the town, and Mom showed her it on the video call. My mom’s aunt and cousin live in town, but they were unfortunately away when we visited; so we walked through the sleepy town, noting the colorful homes, the old world streets, and beautiful mountain views.
We later enjoyed ice cream before we got back in the car and returned to Montesilvano, to pack and prepare for our next adventure in Florence! But first, a bonus, some pictures from Perugia! Perugia was on the way to Florence, and Mom wanted to stop and pick up some chocolates, as they are famous for their chocolates.
While we did not have a lot of time to spend, we did make sure Mom got her chocolates, and we also stepped inside the Perugia Cathedral and Sala della Vaccara, both on the Piazza IV Novembre, dating back to the 13th century.
We parked in the lower part of town, took the elevator to the escalator and then another escalator to reach the city. On the way back, a funicular took us part-way back down with spectacular views right outside the entrance.
I wish we had more time to spend in Perugia, and would have loved to go back, and sip an espresso on one of the many cafes situated on the wide stone streets, and explore more of the city, but that will have to wait, as next up, is a return to Florence!