Home » Itineraries: Landscapes of Abruzzo, from the Gran Sasso to the Adriatic through Teramane Hills

Itineraries: Landscapes of Abruzzo, from the Gran Sasso to the Adriatic through Teramane Hills

by Ada Parisi
5 min read

The austere beauty of Santo Stefano di Sessanio, the dairy traditions of Castel del Monte, The vastness and Highland scents of Campo Imperatore, the artisan knowledge of Castelli potters, the vineyards of Notaresco, the sea and the traditional flavors of Silvi Marina. The travel itinerary that I propose today meanders through the landscape, tastes and colors of Abruzzo, between the territories around the Gran Sasso to the Adriatic Sea, passing through the Teramane Hills, Earth eponymous DOCG wine and pride of the region which is home of the Montepulciano grape variety. A three-day itinerary, to travel by car, extraordinarily varied, who will introduce the special diversity of one of the most interesting Italian regions.

Santo Stefano di Sessanio – Our journey starts from the province, on the border with that of Teramo and, in particular, Santo Stefano di Sessanio. The ancient Sextantium, one of the most beautiful towns of Abruzzo: in 2009, ten years ago, was also hit by the earthquake in L'Aquila and today is one of the best examples of revival, reconstruction and revival of Abruzzo. It is one of the most popular places, most distinctive and interesting to visit. Many houses have already been renovated, but much remains to be done even though they finally started work on the reconstruction of the medieval tower Medici, collapsed due to the earthquake, one of the symbols of Santo Stefano di Sessanio. During the medieval period, Tuscany under the Medici family, It became a thriving center for the wool trade.

Beautiful signal the fact that the streets of the old town you meet tourists: those passing for an afternoon, Italian and foreign, but also those who choose to stay in one of the hotel's facilities spread “Sextantio”, He born in the early twenty-first century. Walking through the stone walls of this village of medieval origins, we suggest you take a break at the café and Tisaneria Bottefhe, that is part of the circuit Sextantio, to enjoy a Ferratella with homemade jam, accompanied by a herbal tea or a fresh syrup; or the ice cream shop, always adhering to the circuit, situated in the town center where the mozzarella, chocolate and hazelnut are, in our opinion, taste not to be missed. Do not forget to buy a bag of lentils, one of the local products.

WHERE TO EAT IN SANTO STEFANO DI SESSANIO – La Locanda del Palazzo is an old farmhouse located outside the walls of Santo Stefano di Sessanio country, Carefully restored over the last few years, It maintains the structure of stone and wood, dating from the seventeenth century. You can sleep in one of four apartments or in one of the seven rooms, all furnished with period furniture, before enjoying an evening of traditional gastronomy at the restaurant. The kitchen offers a menu based exclusively on products and recipes of Abruzzo: lentils, chickpeas and saffron Navelli, ricotta and pecorino di Castel del Monte, ravioli and chitarrine, lamb and fifth quarter.

Infinite series of appetizers, among which the cheeses Abruzzo, from the highland pastures of Campo Imperatore but also from the village of Scanno and, in particular, those of Gregory Roll (Bio Valley Farm Scannese), all housed in the old stone cellar, the sides of the halls of the restaurant. Also excellent sheep ham, the characteristic “mule's balls”, sausage Barisciano, the cup, homemade ham, The liver sausage Paganica. Delicate ravioli with ricotta and saffron, more robust chitarrine with lamb ragout, as well as roast lamb.

THE CELLAR Inalto – The wines of Cantina Inalto, of Adolfo De Cecco properties, They drove us to dinner at Locanda del Palazzo. Adolfo is a young producer who manages, together with family, the company De Cecco, one of the most important industries of pasta in Italy, based in Fara San Martino. Its vineyards are located in Ofena, a village of the province, not far from Santo Stefano di Sessanio. The idea of ​​Adolfo, From 2015 he began his adventure in the wine field, It is to produce elegant wines, ends, representing a new expression of this territory and its Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. A vine, al 100%, form the blend of its “Inalto red”: elegant wine, with delicate tannins, balanced and fresh. Sparkly, fruity and easy to drink too “Inalto White”, product with a blend of Trebbiano d'Abruzzo and Pecorino.


CASTEL DEL MONTE AND CHEESE CANESTRATO – From Santo Stefano di Sessanio is covered in a few minutes drive the scenic road that leads to the town of Calascio, Another high mountain village, where you will find the famous Rock of Calascio, dating from the twelfth century, which it was home to major film sets (by Ladyhawk in The Name of the Rose) and which I will talk on another occasion.

Some kilometers before the center of Castel del Monte it meets the farm Gran Sasso, Julius Petronio. Breeding and dairy coexist under the same roof. Here we produce all year a special pecorino cheese, added to the list of traditional food products (Pat) the Abruzzo Region and also Slow food. Is’ also called transhumance cheese. Castel del Monte, In fact, It is located along the line of sheep tracks that lead from Abruzzo to Puglia. Its product specification is clear: a raw milk product, obtained from sheep bred, in the summer months, in the Campo Imperatore plateau, Aquila side of the Gran Sasso; and in the winter months in the stables or in external enclosures. A cheese made from three ingredients (Salt, milk and rennet), unique taste, with a creamy paste that becomes more spicy in cases of more mature forms. The small consortium of Canestrato manufacturers Castel del Monte is now an active guardian of this outstanding product.

EATING A FIELD EMPEROR – Campo Imperatore and its plateau, looking from the bottom up the mountain complex of the Gran Sasso, It is certainly one of the most beautiful places of this our itinerary. You can get there from Castel del Monte, drive along a scenic road (the state 17a) up to an altitude of 1,400 meters, at the foot of Mount Shirt. Is’ here, between spring and summer, you can meet flocks of sheep, whose milk will be used to produce the cheese Canestrato of Castel del Monte. Holiday resort and long walks outdoors, for lovers of hiking but also climbing, Campo Imperatore is a large area with many huts and refreshment. Two of these (Mucciante the dining and refreshment Giuliani, in the picture) They are located right along our route. In these wooden houses, equipped with barbecue made available to customers already on the embers, you can taste the famous kebabs and roast lamb. A stop is a must. Here there is no table service: It buys the meat and you grill outside alone. Instead, If you want to eat comfortably seated, one of the most typical restaurants is the Rifugio Fonte Vetica, which serves traditional mountain dishes such as guitars with mushrooms, with pork sauce, roasted lamb, cheeses and tasty sausages.

CASTELLI, CITY’ CERAMICS – More than 40 workshops, a prestigious training school for young ceramists, breathtaking views. This is Castles, Italian city of ceramics: a center of the province of Teramo, at the foot of Gran Sasso, internationally famous already between 1500 and 1600, for its pottery which today are found in the homes of the most powerful European monarchs, including the Czar of Russia. Today again, Castelli is one of the landmarks, a model and a source of pride of Made in Italy. The birth of the Institute of pottery dates back to 1906, with the name of “Directed ceramic art school”, with the aim of relaunching the activities of the Italian majolica, entered into crisis since 1800. The works of the students of this school were exhibited for the first time in 1911 at the Expo in Turin.

The school is dedicated to Francesco Angelo Grue, member of one of the most important families of potters castle lords of the seventeenth century. In 1961, the school became a state institution and then, in 2009, It has been transformed into art school for design. In addition to train young students, It is also a museum that boasts an extensive collection of documents, engravings, dusting and drawings by masters of ceramic castle of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Do not miss the international collection of contemporary art (more than 300 artists from 50 nations) and the famous monumental crib: 54 sculptures, made by the students themselves, in the years between 1965 and 1975. Today, to direct the school's Mirella Censasorte while John Giacomini is the director of the Castelli Ceramics Museum.

MUSEUM AND COLLECTION GIACOMINI – The Giacomini collection is another treasure not to be missed in Castelli. I am passionate about ceramics, and for me the precious majolica decorated by various members of the family are worth Grue, from Sun, a visit. Not only: This town of about 1,200 inhabitants can also boast the so-called the Sistine Chapel of Ceramics. It is located in the church of San Donato. And it is one of the most extraordinary examples of the Abruzzo craftsman ability to work in ceramics. It is once majolica, consisting of over 800 decorated bricks, between 1615 and 1617. A work that is worth a visit to this lovely village, where the municipal government is very committed to improving culture and traditions.

CERAMICS OF SIMONE – The best way to understand the beauty and the difficulty of ceramic art, You are definitely visit the workshop of master Vincenzo Di Simone and his son Antonio, which it is located in the heart of Castelli. Here you go back to really breathe the air of the past, when the ceramics were machined and decorated entirely by hand and stared at the colors to shapes after long cooking in large ovens. Typical shades of Castles, the teacher gets the selecting personally (to 85 years) the stones gathered in the nearby river Leomogna and mixing them together with tin, lead, silica, according to precise weight ratios, using the high temperature of the ovens.

We enter quietly in the old majolica workshop in Via del Giardino and we find the master Vincenzo Di Simone, who is finishing a lathe work. The master is a staunch and proud defender of the ancient art of ceramics at 360 degrees. Since time is short, It shows us the preparation of a traditional “whistle” in terracotta, that realizes in a few minutes with a speed by chills. Then, Di Simone teacher tells himself. He explains his ancestral relationship with fire, the prayers and devotion to St. Anthony Abbot, the big oven that still turns on and closes with a temporary wall for a few days, to secure the vivid colors and glazed clay decorations. Colors that Vincenzo Di Simone obtained from the oxidation of metals, which are kept in his personal palette. Copper, antimony, cobalt. Their mix, carefully controlled,, It is able to generate all the nuances. Other than modern technology and industrial equipment, the artisan potter work is just that: precise gestures and consolidated rites, experience secular set to continue, that make this workshop a unique museum of its kind and the pride of all the land of castles.

DOCG Teramane THE HILLS AND FARM NICODEMI – In 2003, a group of companies founded the Wine Consortium Hills Teramane DOCG, to make the best wine made from Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. The territory managed by the consortium (2018 chaired by Enrico Cerulli Irelli) It extends from the Gran Sasso to the Adriatic Sea, which they are also produced the Controguerra DOC and IGT Colli Aprutini. More than 40 member companies, working to raise awareness of these wines with Italian and international consumers. Notaresco is one of the most famous centers of the Teramane Hills area, where it is produced the wines of Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin. Managed family, the Nicodemi Farm is one of the most modern of the local wineries. The company was created in the 70s by Bruno Nicodemi and today is run by Alessandro and Elena, Bruno sons, who accepted the challenge of winemaking. The two brothers together have raised this winery, which now exports about 80% of the wines produced. Conducted with organic farming methods, the cellar is self-sufficient from an energy point of view, thanks to an efficient photovoltaic system. On 38 hectares total, of which 30 hectares of vineyards in one body, 200 thousand bottles are produced. The lands are located around 300 meters of altitude: from an upstream side of the Gran Sasso and, on the other, the sea at a distance of ten kilometers. The best tasting for us have been three: the “Neromoro” (Montepulciano d'Abruzzo reserves, Hills Teramane DOCG), the “Notari white”, a Trebbiano d'Abruzzo DOC top that smells of white flowers, with an elegant flavor; “the Walled”, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG: a red from the great bevibiiltà, with intense aromas of red fruit (cherries and currants) and spices, fresh, balanced, thanks to soft tannins and acidity always highlight.

ABBEY Propezzano L.A AND CANTINA DE Strasser – Less than ten minutes drive from Notaresco is the Abbey of Propezzano, one of the most interesting monuments in the area of ​​Teramane Hills. The first structure dedicated to Santa Maria pledge dates from the year 715, but it is from 1285 that the first settlement of the Benedictines brought of major structural changes. Since that time, left the works for the construction of the Abbey we know today, Romanesque. The complex is open by appointment, and we assure you that it's worth it. Inside, there are numerous frescos dating back to the sixteenth century. On the outside, the so-called Holy Door, attributed to the artist Raimondo del Poggio, dating back to the fourteenth century.

The particularity, and uniqueness, of this place, It is that the whole complex of private property is the Family Savini De Strasser, who bought it in 1871 after the suppression of the order of Friars Minor observant, in 1811. Since 2011, The Savini De Strasser family made from renovation work of the interior and exterior spaces of the complex. Today, visitors can sample, taste and purchase wines produced from the vineyards of the abbey. La Cantina De Strasser will soon be transferred entirely in the interior spaces to the cloister, in order to unify the production area with that of refining and one dedicated to the commercialization. The family De Strasser also produces extra virgin olive oil (monocultivar Tortiglione) by old olive groves bordering the Abbey.

WHERE TO EAT IN VAL VIBRATA: RESTAURANT ZENOBI – The Val Vibrata, between Teramane Hills, It is one of the most characteristic areas. This territory, and in particular the municipality of Colonnella, houses the restaurant Zenobi, one of the steps required for those, on vacation in these parts, He wants to try a genuine traditional cuisine. Zenobi is also a farm and, Therefore, in the restaurant you will find products such as oil, wine, medicinal herbs, seasonal vegetables that come from ten hectares from Zenobi family. Not to be missed: meatballs with ricotta sauce, maccheroncini all'abruzzese (with meatballs), the “scrippelle” (timbale Teramo), the goat to Neretese (a stewed goat). Among the desserts, sweet pizza Teramo. Among the wines, we tasted a full-bodied Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG, Old castle, produced by agricultural Centorame (Casoli di Atri), Vintage 2014.

WHERE TO STAY IN GIULIANOVA – Cinzia and Savior, since 2008, gestiscono il bed and breakfast “the Bear and the Bee”. An oasis of peace amid the vineyards of Teramane Hills. Cynthia has a long experience in the hotel industry while Salvatore is a tireless handyman, who runs the vineyard, La cantina, the gardens and the gardens. A beautiful couple who have chosen to move in the Marche, after so many years passed between Ticino and Lombardy. The property has six bedrooms, painstakingly decorated and extremely clean and finished, overlooking the vineyards of the winery Podere San Massimo. Breakfast is served on a roof terrace, providing a view of either the Adriatic Sea or the surrounding mountains. Cynthia is a master in preparing sweets, always different and tasty. Try her tarts with jams: they are outstanding.

TO SEE: CAMPLI AND SCALE SANTA – There is a small municipality, not far from the city of Teramo, which is worth a stop. Both because from 2018 it is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, both for its historical and architectural gems. Is’ Campli, where you can admire the cathedral of Santa Maria in Platea, that was damaged by the earthquake: despite the outside looks intact, inside the frescoes and the painted ceiling on wooden boards is shored up and waiting for restoration. Yet, to see the century convent of San Bernardino and, especially the church of St. Paul with adjoining Scala Santa: 28 steps to climb to his knees for forgiveness (indulgence) from sins. In a symbolic way, Faithful retraces the journey of Jesus Christ: passion, death and resurrection.

THE CELLAR CERULLI Spinozzi – The Cerulli cellar Spinozzi, a Canzano, It is one of the oldest area of ​​the DOCG Colline Teramane. The company dates back to the mid-1900s. Today led by the young Enrico Cerulli, this company not only produces wine but also DOP olive oil, tomatoes and cereals. The 35 hectares of vineyards in Canzano are conducted using modern methods respecting the principles of environmental sustainability, with the aim of promoting local varieties, with traditional methods of conduction but also experimental, quality oriented. Among the white wines, I advise you to taste the Pecorino IGT Colli Aprutini (great flavor and freshness); among red wines, Torre Best reserves, Hills teramane Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOCG. Recently opened, Margaret Casina offering a place for you to spend a few days in this territory. From the terrace of the hotel you can enjoy a magnificent view over the river valley Vomano and on all the mountains of the Gran Sasso.

TERAMO And Montegualtieri – Is’ time to leave for the south-east area of ​​the long and vast territory of Teramane Hills. From the Giulianova we move in Teramo, for a quick visit to the historical center, to Martyrs Square, where we suggest you visit the Duomo, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta. Continuing along a short stretch of motorway, exit at Basciano, a very small town that is home to the Abruzzo ham festival, which takes place every August. To reach Atri, Basciano is necessary to take the state 81, a street that runs through the ridges of the hills and you can enjoy interesting views between small towns and views on the typical formations of gullies. On entering the village of Cermignano, we suggest you make a brief stop in Montegualtieri, to see the famous (and very rare) medieval tower. High around 18 meters, dating from the thirteenth century, It has a triangular shape and was built to monitor the path of Val Vomano. Another triangular tower is in Abruzzo “passed”, Bussi sul Tirino.

WHAT SEE: ATRI – Magnificent village from a hill 300 meters above sea level looks to the Adriatic Sea, Atri is a place full of curiosity. For some historians, was an ancient settlement of Illyrian origin-Sicilian, first settled in the eighth century BC. It became colony and province during the Roman period. In the Middle Ages sided in defense of the Pope, During the fight between the Swabians and the pope Innocent fourth. For this reason, Atri became an independent municipality. In 1305, was inaugurated, dedicated Cathedral (as in Teramo) of Santa Maria Assunta, whose work began 50 years before. Since the end of the century quattordicesino, Atri came under the rule of the Dukes of Acquaviva who ruled for four hundred years. During this time, Atri was adorned with noble palaces, cloisters, squares, churches. To visit, in addition to the Cathedral, surely there is the stately Palace of the Dukes of Acquaviva, the church of Santa Reparata, the church of San Francesco, Auditorium Sant'Agostino, Teatro Comunale, It built in 1881 on the model of the famous Teatro alla Scala in Milan.

WHAT TO BUY ATRI – Along the streets of the old town, stop by the bakery “The Fornaccio”, to enjoy the typical fiadoni: a baked dough which is filled with ricotta (traditional recipe), but also with tuna or with the ham. The fiadoni also a variant sweet, with honey, cottage cheese and raisins. As regards food, souvenirs, in addition to the wines of the Hills Teramane DOCG, do not forget licorice, Traditional product of the place and which has remote origins: or 1500, since the Dominicans extracted the juice from the roots. We recommend buying the Bottega of Licorice, between Piazza Duomo and the Palace of the Dukes of Acquaviva, where there are over thirty different types of liquorice, including the famous Menozzi-De Rosa brand (from 1836), Atri that has its manufacturing plant. In this store, who has a history of several decades, you can also buy a sweet typical Abruzzo: Pan Ducale, whose basic recipe consists of eggs, sugar, flour and almonds, sometimes accompanied with chocolate. Around, in small workshops (like Salumeria Acquaviva, by Domenico), do not forget to buy the jams grape, saffron Abruzzo, the typical salami, such as Abruzzo ventricina, in sweet or spicy version.

WHERE TO EAT IN SILVI MARINA – And from the hills Teramane it reaches the Adriatic Sea. In particular, we suggest you move in Silvi Marina, where you can change the menu, abandoning cheese, sausages and meats, and enjoy a sumptuous dinner of fish. Restaurants are dozens, and many have a tourism target. But what I suggest is able to offer excellent traditional cuisine fish, literally on the sea. Is’ the restaurant Costa Verde, the reign of Madame Michelina Belmonte. Here, in a family environment, thanks to the courtesy and professionalism of Gabriella and Lolita, you can taste some historical recipes of Silvi Marina, that take us back in time, its ancient seafaring, dating back to the Roman and later medieval period.

Tradition then, but not without some attention to the lightness and quick cooking that brings out the best taste of fresh fish. They arrive in table: oysters and razor clams, cuttlefish in sauce, silvarola mackerel with olives and tomato, razor clams steamed with olives, raw squid spiked with melon, scampi and crab stew, the delicate linguine sole cream (a special dish).

WHERE TO STAY IN SILVI – The tower Martinetti Bianchi is a place from another time. If you choose to sleep in this medieval building, beautifully preserved, take your own pace, because this is a relaxing place. The tower is placed on top of the Colle Gate, a Silvi, It dates back to about 1450. He carried out military functions, surveillance of the coast from pirate raids, at a time when the lands of Abruzzo governed the Spanish vice king of Naples. Today, the tower is still owned by the descendants of the Marquis Martinetti Bianchi, that obtained after the Duchi d'Acquaviva of Atri, in mid-1700, Andrea Martinetti appointed governor of Atri, entrusting him with the task of enforcing laws in that territory. In the year 2000, the tower has been restored and is now managed with care by Elizabeth Ruscitti Sarra, descendant of Martinetti Bianchi families and family Vinditti. From the windows of Martinetti tower you can admire the sea, the olive groves and the profile of the Cerrano tower. From the olive groves in the surrounding area, in Contrada Piomba High, born oil “Podere Colonel”, produced by the family D'Orazio Vinditti, thanks to the work of George Horace Vinditti, He committed to maintaining the agricultural traditions of this corner of Teramo. This extra virgin olive oil is obtained from four varieties: straight, Castiglionese, Leccino e Moraiolo: a slightly fruity with bitter and spicy notes, very balanced and very versatile in combinations in the kitchen.


Consortium Hills Teramane – Corso Umberto I - Montepagano Roseto degli Abruzzi (Teramo), tel. 085.8071699

Torre Martinetti Bianchi – Silvi

Restaurant Costa Verde, Piazza Marconi 3 – Silvi Marina (phone 085 935 1400)

Locanda del Palazzo, Via Gabriele D'Annunzio 12 – Santo Stefano di Sessanio (phone 328 161 5128)

Old workshop majolica Di Simone, Via del Giardino 20 – Castelli (phone 0861 979003)

City of Castles and Ceramics Museum

Restaurant Zenobi, contrada Riomoro – Colonnella (Teramo) – (phone 0861 70581)

B&B The bear and the bee, Via Colle San Massimo 13 – Giulianova (phone 339 851 2963)

Abbey Propezzano, Morro d'Oro (Teramo), phone 392.2318864


1 comment

elisabetta corbetta 5 October 2018 - 08:42

Thank you for your valuable suggestions


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