16 Dec

Abruzzo Photo Review 2014

Festa dei Banderesi

In a recent post Random Thoughts on Our First Year Living in Abruzzo I listed several highlights of our first year living in Abruzzo. This post is similar, but different. It’s a personal photo review of 2014 in Abruzzo.

I’ve selected 20 photos that represent memorable events. They’re not necessarily the best 20 photographs I created in 2014, but they depict moments that mattered in some emotional way during the last year. They were taken with either a Canon EOS Rebel T3i, a Canon Digital IXUS 970 IS os a Samsung Galaxy S3. As always the best camera was the one I had with me at the time.   :-)

They might be of a new journey, a special moment with friends or returning to a familiar much loved place. Some you may have seen before but there are definitely a few new images for you to enjoy.

I hope you like them. If you have time please take a moment to let me know what you think of the photographs and which one is your favourite.

You can click on each image to enlarge it.

Ok, let’s begin in January 2014…

This was the first time I’d seen the festival of Sant’Antonio Abate in Loreto Aprutino. It’s a relatively small intimate festival that pulls the local community together. The eyes in the crowd are fixed on the actors telling the story of Sant’Antonio’s struggle with the devil.

Loreto Aprutino on a night in February. Light matters so much taking photographs and in this case the absence of sunlight with the street lights shining like stars made the town look as though it was from a fairy tale. I have so many photos of this special town it was hard to pick the right one for this post.

Penne, at most 7km from LA (Loreto Aprutino), beautiful but different. If you follow the path the couple are walking and turn left at the photos of the group of women, you exit the old town at the Porta San Francesco. The wall where the group of women are displayed is Largo S. Nicola and is an outdoor art space http://www.wowogallery.com/ that is updated throughout the year. The last time I passed I saw this collection by my fiend Paul Critchley





Paul has a way of seeing the world differently. I love his work.

May brought me to Bucchianico in Chieti with my good friend Bruno to see the Festa dei Banderesi. This was another first for me. I’d heard about this festival but I hadn’t had an opportunity to see it before. It was a wonderful spectacle and it was great spending time with a good friend.

In a moment of quasi-madness we decided to have a few days away by the Adriatic. We didn’t go far, just down to Montesilvano. The weather was mixed but the break was perfect.

The very familiar Festa di San Zopito in Loreto Aprutino. A boy dressed as a girl depicting an angel travelling though the narrow streets on a white ox, the procession of the martyr’s bones, Valentini opens their doors and for those who need it refreshment is never too far away.

This image is less to do with the beer and more to do with where I’m drinking it. I like Leffe, I like it’s flavour but I’d probably be happy sipping any beverage on a warm day sitting outside a bar in some local piazza watching the world go by.

Pescara bus station taken from a platform at Pescara Centrale train station. I spent a lot of time travelling by bus in 2014. Not everyone’s preferred mode of transport I admit, but it can certainly teach you patience.

A quiet piece of public beach away from all the lidos and the regimented sun chairs. Sometimes it’s necessary to have your own space.

The day the lambrettas came to town. Hidden among them is an interloper , an intruder, can you spot it?

This is for my dog loving readers. This very friendly fellow followed us around the old village of Vicoli. Alistair and I went for a spin in the car on a dullish day and ended up there.

The next day was brighter with clear blue skies so we went to Pacentro near Sulmona. Alistair, who is Scottish and absolutely impossible to decipher, was visiting us for week. He’d been to Abruzzo before so this was an opportunity to see somewhere new.  Walking around Pacentro was a lovely experience. I bet it’s spectacular in the snow.

A native of Pacentro. This photo is also for my dog loving readers.

From Pacentro we went back to Sulmona. Tried in vain to find the perfect bar – one with good coffee (easy) and a clean toilet (difficut), but we enjoyed the relative quiet of an almost empty Piazza Garibaldi and some damn fine ice cream.

I really like Sulmona. It has a lot to offer and with Pacentro so close it should be on everyone’s list of places to visit in Abruzzo.

Speaking of places you must visit in Abruzzo, in my “humble” opinion not to visit Rocca Calasio and Campo Imperatore on a trip here would be complete madness. I love seeing the new, and I think Abruzzo appears to have an endless supply of new places to see, but prospect and possibility of visiting and re-visiting Rocca Calasio and Campo Imperatore fills me with joy. There really is no other word for it, joy! Once I get there I don’t have to do anything other than breathe and let the Abruzzo scenery work its restorative magic.

14 Dec

Time for Yet Another Facelift!

This is post is less to do with Abruzzo and more to do with a bit of blog reorganisation.

It’s time for a facelift.

I’m going through a minimalist phase so I’ve given About Abruzzo a facelift to reflect this. I want it to have a far cleaner design and user interface.

Obviously I hope you like it.

If you don’t like it I’d like you to try it for a while and see if it grows on you.

If it doesn’t grow on you, well I hope you can endure it because I plan to keep it for a while or at least until I’m bored with it.

Warning: Here comes the techie bit!

For those of you who subscribe to About Abruzzo using its RSS feed and read new content using a feed reader like Feedly please note that the feed URL is changing and you need to update as follows:

Change this URL




in your feed reader of choice and all should be well.

If you’re an RSS feed subscriber and you don’t make this change you might miss out on some great future content including…no I’m not going to spoil it.

Just take my word for it, make the change.

Phew! Techie bit over!



19 Nov

Random Thoughts on Our First Year Living in Abruzzo


In August 2013 we moved to Abruzzo. To a region we really love, hoping to embrace a lifestyle that we felt suited us perfectly. Some friends said the move was brave, perhaps crazy, but when something feels right it isn’t brave it just makes sense.

Even though there were good signs that the Irish Economy was finally turning a corner we decided to move to Italy, a country whose economy and ability to embrace growth can often defy all forms of logic.

But we didn’t move for economic reasons. We just felt that having visited the region regularly for almost eight years we were ready to spend more time there.

When we moved, apart from settling in, we had a list of “stuff” we had to deal with as soon as we possibly could. We still have a list, but many of the items on it now are far less urgent.

Between August 2013 and October 2014 I feel we’ve achieved quite a lot.

Here are some highlights in no particular order.

  • I found regular work that pays the bills (or some of them anyway)
  • I’ve paid my taxes – some of these I was paying already but income tax in Italy was a mystery until earlier this year
  • We believe we have fixed most, if not all, of our roof leaks
  • We finally fixed our boiler – random heating of our radiators was the symptom
  • We had people staying with us – cosy but comfortable after a few key IKEA purchases
  • I applied for and got residency – I think it makes certain administrative issues easier, not certain though
  • We came to terms with a new rubbish collection system in our little town – seems to be working
  • We tasted, enjoyed and wanted more of Le Virtù, a thick vegetable, bean and pasta soup which is traditionally from Teramo.
  • I saw the Festa dei Banderesi in Bucchianico
  • We went on holiday from Abruzzo to, wait for it, Abruzzo, a few days by the beach, nothing like it.
  • We made new friends and strengthened our relationships with existing friends
  • We had a pile of stuff shipped to Abruzzo at a very fair price by Duncan and Van2Europe
  • I was interviewed on TV at the festival of Sant’Antonio Abate – it’s all go!
  • I put on record my theory of Italian driving – Space Theory – it goes like this…If a space is unoccupied it is available for all. If a driver successfully occupies the space it is then owned by that driver and all other road users must adjust as required.

Not bad I think for our first year making the dream into a reality.

But it hasn’t been smooth sailing.

Unfortunately we’ve had to put the Abruzzo dream on hold and return to Ireland for a while.

Fortunately it’s a pause, not a full stop.

But as I started thinking about what I’d be doing if I was in Abruzzo right now I realised that apart from last year I haven’t really spent any Novembers  there at all.

Warning – I’m about to mention statistics!

My favourite subject in school was mathematics. I enjoyed most science subjects but mathematics just seemed to make sense. But there’s always a black spot. A place you don’t want to go. A place that fills you with dread. For me that was the study of statistics. It used to wreak my head. So it is a bit of a surprise to me that this post has a small statistical element.

It’s all about November.

It’s often said that you can prove anything with statistics but I’m not going to try anything too radical.

Here goes.

Statistically, November is the month that I’m most rarely in Abruzzo.

If I look over the last 8 years I’ve only been in Abruzzo once during the month of November, and that was last year in 2013.

Since I’m in Ireland as I write this post, that statistic isn’t going to change this year.

So here I am in a colder climate looking forward to returning to Loreto Aprutino sometime in the early New Year.

Right now I can experience a lot of this…

Autumn sunrises and sunsets, trees changing colour, long walks, full rivers and battling the wind and the rain. No arrosticini DOC!

I do like travelling in November because if you are lucky enough to get a bit of good weather you can usually enjoy an off season trip without too many tourists.

In November 2008 I was in Venice…probably the biggest city culture shock you can get and still stay in Europe.

In November 2010 I was in Switzerland…I know, November in Switzerland, how off-season can you get. It was great though.

In November 2012 I was in Northern Ireland enjoying all that Belfast and its Titanic Quarter has to offer.

Maybe that’s why I’ve not been to Abruzzo much in November. Since Abruzzo doesn’t get overrun by tourists trying to pick a non-touristy season seems a bit silly.

But last year in November I was there and what a month it was…

  • I saw the olive harvest from start t finish and was kindly given a tour how Di Simone make their olive oil – see The Miracle of Oil Production in Loreto Aprutino
  • I saw the “largest” moon I have ever seen hanging in broad daylight over the olives
  • I enjoyed some early morning walks through Pescara
  • With a heavy snow fall and power blackouts I doubled up all my clothes and even with a hat and gloves I still couldn’t stay warm.
  • A road and wall collapsed burying a car in the old town – no one was hurt – a year on I think the road is still closed and the crushed car is still there.

A mixed bag I guess but I can’t wait to get back!