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Campo Imperatore by La Grande Quercia B&B

A Few of My Favourite Abruzzo Things – Sergio Pomante

by Sam Dunham

Castelli and Campo Imperatore - La Grande Quercia

What’s your association with Abruzzo? i.e. where do you live and why? Where did your family come from and when/ where did they emigrate to?

Sergio PomanteI was born in Roseto degli Abruzzi, where my family have lived for many many generations. I moved to London in 2000 where I spent 6 years and then returned to Abruzzo to fulfil a dream of running a small bed & breakfast business.

What’s the best thing about Abruzzo?
It has to be the food, closely followed by the warm and generous nature of the people of Abruzzo.

What’s the worst thing about Abruzzo?
It is more a frustration, but the inability to appreciate and market all the wonderful things Abruzzo has to offer.

What’s the most underrated thing about Abruzzo?
Whilst opinions are changing slowly, the fabulous wines being produced are not being appreciated or recognised as they undoubtedly should be.

Where would be your favourite place to live in Abruzzo?
I am already here of course, but with a win on the lotto, perhaps the apartment with the balcony above the arch in Montepagano, the hilltop town just a stone’s throw from where I was born. It has the most breathtaking views of the Adriatic coastline and the mountains of the Gran Sasso and Maiella.

Where would you not live in Abruzzo?
. It is too densely populated and without character.

Campo Imperatore by La Grande Quercia B&B

What’s your idea of a perfect weekend in Abruzzo?
A weekend in one of the least known, but most spectacular places of possibly all of Italy, has to be in the area of Campo Imperatore. Starting with a hike across the vast plain to work up an appetite for lunch at a favourite spot, Rifugio della Rocca at Calascio. A further walk up to the ruins of the fort at the top and to the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pietà. From there to Santo Stefano di Sessanio and to spend the night in the most expensive suite at Sextantio Albergo Diffuso. A lazy morning  with breakfast in bed and followed by a trip to L’Aquila, to remind me how beautiful the city once was and hopefully how it will be again one day.

What’s your favourite Abruzzo vineyard and why?
There are of course some big names in Abruzzo who produce excellent wines, but my preference is for wines from smaller producers and from the Teramo province. The winery of Antonio & Elio Monti in Controguerra is no fancy pants vineyard, but it produces some of the very best Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

La Neviera La Tacchinella Canzano

Where’s the best place to eat?
That is a difficult question, as there so many choices and it depends on the occasion! For a simple tradional meal of Teramane , Momenti di Gusto near Canzano makes the best arrosticini around and is a firm favourite. For fish, Trattoria Luciana in my home town of Roseto and for an extra special occasion hiring the cave for dinner at  La Neviera at La Tacchinella, Canzano.

Have you a favourite sagra?
The “Sagra del Prosciutto Abruzzese” in Basciano is a favourite not just for the great food, but the whole atmosphere of the town including the annual prize giving to the best dubotte (accordion) players around. Seeing the little lads playing their hearts out and then their fathers and grandfathers doing the same, touches my heart every time.

What would you do for a special occasion?
Probably cook a nice meal at home and invite some friends over.

Corno Grande, The Gran Sasso Range by La Grande Quercia

What’s your favourite view in Abruzzo?
After 51 years I still love to look at the mountains of the Gran Sasso. They appear to constantly change, but I think it is their constant presence that makes me feel I that I belong here.

What would be your favourite Abruzzo dish?
Timballo.

What outdoor activities or sports would you recommend in Abruzzo and why?
Cycling is probably the number one sport to recommend, followed by because of the spectacular scenery on offer.

What’s your favourite Abruzzo village and why?
Pietracamela because of its’ age, but moreover because of where it is. Perched halfway up the mountains, I can’t stop myself imagining how life must have been hundreds of years ago, as I wander through the narrow streets and the maze of connecting “subways”.

Have you a favourite Abruzzo walk?
The walk through the woods up to the Cascate del Ruzzo,  Isola del Gran Sasso.

What piece of advice you would give to someone new to Abruzzo?
Hire a car and explore the interior of the region, especially the National Parks.

Which ‘must see’ event or activity best sums up Abruzzo?
The procession of Venerdi Santo in Chieti is spectacular, especially due to the music and song of Il Miserere.

Which book would you recommend people to read to understand Abruzzo?
There aren’t too many books around about Abruzzo, but a favourite that reflects the region so well is in fact a cookery book; Food and Memories of Abruzzo; Italy’s Pastoral Land by Anna Teresa Callen.

What attitude best sums up the Abruzzesi?
It is said that the Abruzzesi are “forti e gentili”- strong and kind.

Can you name any celebrities either from Abruzzo or of Abruzzo descent?
Madonna (Pacentro), Michael Bublè (Carrufo), Dean Martin (Pescara).

If you lived outside Abruzzo what would you take to remind you of Abruzzo?
Pecorino cheese!

Sergio Pomante co-runs La Grande Quercia Bed & Breakfast, No. 1 Teramo B&B on Trip Advisor which is nestled in the rolling hills just outside the province’s capital Teramo, visit their official website | Facebook Page

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