Each time we’ve been close to Anversa degli Abruzzi , for example the Cocullo Snake Festival, we’ve tried to visit La Fiaccola, always drawn to the look of this cute and seemingly intimate little restaurant; they use organic ingredients from La Porta dei Parchi who try so hard to keep alive Abruzzo pastoral traditions, and who are the makers of our favourite Abruzzo smoked ricotta cheeses. Unsurprisingly as a result it’s ever so popular with locals so it’s always been booked! Thankfully this time we booked in advance, planning to avoid the scrum in Sulmona after La Madonna che Scappa and whizz off here which is just a short 20 minute drive away.
Anversa degli Abruzzi itself is 600 masl and set in the striking WWF protected Gole di Sagittaro (Sagittarius Gorge). Its sharp sheer mountains enclose the small town and nearby river & rapids, eroded into this dramatic landscape with an underscore that you can hear wherever you walk, gurgling counterpoint to the birdsong that harmonises the rich microclimate that surrounds the reserve. If you decide to walk off your lunch locally you can expect to find endemic Sagittarius Cornflowers (Centaurea scannensis ), though other indigenous wildlife such as the extremely shy deer, boar, wolves & bears slightly higher up may provide more elusive; the area is also rich with snakes, hence the nearby Cocullo Festival, remember vipers generally live up high so you should be safe walking down by the river!
Back to La Fiaccola; set in the heart of this small village that is listed amongst Borghi Italia’s most beautiful Italian villages as well providing the setting for D’Annuzio’s tragedy La Fiaccola sotto il Moggio, it consists of 2 small sweet dining rooms on the ground floor, with views down into the gorge if you are lucky enough to get a window seat. It’s unusual in that you do get a small menu, so if you don’t speak Italian you’ll be fine, in addition the waitresses will no doubt try practicing their English out on you.
We shared the house antipasti which was fantastic, not just the award-winning fab-flavoured smoked ricotta cheeses that we adore, but a wonderful selection of cold cuts and maybe the best frittata we’ve had in 5 years, packed with asparagus, wild spinach and mint, all around us other guests were complimenting the staff on this too. As it was Easter we had timballo (the province of Teramo’s equivalent to lasagne that has filtered out across the region) which was beautifully light, no matter how delicious they are, sometimes they can almost be a little too rich and dense. Unlike in Teramo where the mince is fashioned into little polpettini (meatballs) this was as in a traditional lasagne style. Their house dish is apparently their ‘Pastoral Gnocchi ‘served in a sauce made with La Porta del Parchi cheese, basil & walnut and which won first prize at one of the annual 3-day Chefs’ Culinary Festival held annually in Villa Santa Maria in Chieti.
We followed this with Agnelletta which is like Porchetta but made with lamb – excellent but outdone by their beautiful roasted vegetables served with the usual Abruzzo smashed potatoes but with some fantastic tasting borlotti beans and sweetest of spinach added and drizzled in oil.
It was difficult to decide on dessert, temptation tweaked our taste-buds toward a fig & hazelnut tart or chocolate & almond tart, we went for the latter, divine do try if it is on offer!
Not a glamorous, fancy-pants restaurant, more importantly serving great tasting simple dishes, it’s a restaurant to definitely try if you are in the area.
La Fiaccola | Via Duca degli Abruzzi 12 | Anversa degli abruzzi | 67030 (AQ)
Telephone: 0864 49474 | No Email or Website