ABRUZZO FOOD AND WINE TOURS 2008
PESCARA, the modern Abruzzo
Pescara is situated on the Adriatic coast at the mouth of the valley of the river of the same name and, with almost 200,000 inhabitants, is the most highly populated town in the region, and one of the main tourist and business centers on the Adriatic Sea. The wide beach extends for almost 15 miles from Francavilla in the south to Montesilvano in the north. The remarkable industrial development of the city after World War Two gave rise to a larger urban area, including nearby towns like Chieti, Francavilla, Spoltore, Città Sant'Angelo and Montesilvano, where over one third of the whole population of the Abruzzo region is now concentrated. The economy has greatly developed in the 20th century, thanks also to the availability of hydroelectric power and modern road and rail connections and textiles, clothing, foods, engineering, chemicals and building materials are particularly flourishing sectors.
A maritime settlement of ancient Italic peoples called Vestini, Marrucini and Peligni, the town was an important port in Roman times with the name of "Ostia Aterni", connecting Abruzzo to the Mediterranean sea. In 100 years BC geographer Strabo called Ostia Aterni the most important port in central Adriatic. After the Barbarian invasions and Byzantine domination, it was destroyed by the Lombards in the 7th century AD; at that time Cetteo, the bishop of Amiternum from 568 to 597 was persecuted by the Lombards and took refuge in Rome. Then he came back to Abruzzo, but was thrown into the Aterno river with a stone tied to his neck. His body was recovered at the mouth of the river. His relics, for centuries in Chieti, were transferred to Pescara in 1977 and he is now the patron saint of the city. After the Lombard destruction, the city was refounded as Piscaria, a name chosen to express the abundance of fish in its waters, but for long centuries was just a small port. In 1140 it was conquered by the Normans, and afterwards shared historical events with the Kingdom of Naples.
It was united to Italy in 1860 and became province capital in 1927, including territories previously belonging to the provinces of Teramo, Chieti and Aquila. It was only after Unification that there was a notable cultural revival Gabriele D'Annunzio, painters Francesco Paolo Michetti, Teofilo Patini, Filippo and Giuseppe Palizzi and sculptor Costantino Barbella were prominent figures in 20th century Abruzzo. In the winter of 1943-44, during World War II, the region suffered the devastation left by the retreating Nazi army and the slaughter it carried out amongst the civilian population although Abruzzo and its Brigata Majella participated actively in the liberation struggle. On 14 September 1943 37 American bomber planes dropped 341 high-potential bombs on Pescara, causing thousands of civilian victims and reducing the city to a heap of ruins. Post-war reconstruction was slow, and a true development of the region started to take place only at the beginning of the Sixties to reach the height of its expansion between the mid-Seventies and Eighties.
As far as architecture is concerned, it is worth remembering the interesting liberty forms which were widespread at the beginning of the 1900s in many residences along the waterfront, when in summer each family in the good society had their own cabin and color. Then there is the sanctuary of the Madonna dei Sette Dolori, at Pescara Colli, inaugurated on 30 may 1757 by the bishop of Atri, Gennaro Ferrelli, to render thanks to Mary for the rain that saved the harvest after an especially dry summer. Each year thousands of pilgrims visit the sanctuary on the occasion of the feast in early June. Other beautiful sights are in the Palazzo del Governo a giant painting, Michetti's masterpiece, 'La figlia di Iorio'; the "Nave" a fine modern sculpture by Basilio Cascella (1860-1950) just in the center of the Viale della Riviera waterfront; the Home-Museum of Gabriele D'Annunzio (poet, man of letters and patriot, 1863-1938), one of the most relevant figures in Italian 20th century culture; the impressive "Museo delle Genti d'Abruzzo", almost unique in its kind, following from prehistory to the present day with unique items and true-to-life reconstruction the life, traditions, rites and customs of pagan and Christian Abruzzo, with very special sections devoted to the sheep-raising culture and folk festivals.
And Pescara has also many fine restaurants and trattorie where fish and seafood is artistically served according to the most delicious recipes of maritime Abruzzo, the traditional ice-cream shops of Berardo and Camplone, in eternal rivalry one opposite the other right on the seafront, where superb ice-cream creations can be enjoyed in a highly elegant surroundings a little distance from the shopping streets of the center; and of course without leaving everyone takes the time to buy the traditional Parrozzo, the delicate Pescarese cake based on almonds and covered in chocolate, still prepared according to the recipe invented by Luigi D'Amico in 1911.
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