This Region May be Italy’s Best-Kept Secret


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I grew up hearing the word—Abruzzo—but didn’t know what it meant. The older generation, their parents born in Italy, often spoke words I didn’t understand. Words of emphasis, food words, sometimes whispered words. As I got older, it became clear that Abruzzo was a place, and not just any place, but the most beautiful place in all of Italy, spoken of fondly with watery eyes, by immigrants who wondered if they’d ever set foot again where they were born.

The first time I looked it up, I found it on a map. Italy has 20 regions; some like Tuscany and Sicily are well known. Others like Abruzzo, tucked between the sea to the east and Lazio (home to the city of Rome) to the west, remain unfamiliar to most travelers. In a country of UNESCO-listed monuments and iconic cities, Abruzzo has neither. Yet it is the very absence of traditional tourist infrastructure that is why Abruzzo holds such allure for me—and what makes it ideal as the latest selection in our series on underrated destinations, It’s Still a Big World.

I longed to travel to Abruzzo for as far back as I can remember. When my mother retired, there was only one place we both wanted to go to mark the milestone. We found a cooking school, Abruzzo Cibus, located in a medieval hilltop hamlet called Carunchio, population 600. A vision quickly formed: a week at a hilltop palazzo in our family’s native region, cracking eggs into flour for fresh pasta dough, tasting our way through a local cheese shop, and learning the traditional recipes of our ancestors. As soon as we imagined this mother/daughter cooking getaway, it became irresistible: we booked immediately.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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