From the apartment is just 1H 15 min. by car.
Majella National Park is the guardian of a significant number of traditional Abruzzo foods. First of all it is home to the capital of Italian pasta production, Fara San Martino, a town at the foot of Majella’s eastern slope, where the presence of ultra pure mountain water fostered the development of a flourishing pasta industry from the 1800s onwards: nowadays its products are exported worldwide. The charcuterie includes salsicciotto di Pennapiedimonte, a cured sausage made from lean pork, covered in a salt crust and pork fat aromatized with ground black pepper and chopped local herbs (thyme, juniper, rosemary, bay leaf, chives, spicy chilli pepper, fennel and sage). The cheeses to try are pecorino, produced in many of the Park’s mountain localities; a magnificent caciocavallo from the Altipiani Maggiori, made in this enclave of exquisite farming tradition with delicate aromatic raw milk from local cows that graze freely on the endless mountain pastures of the municipalities of Pescocostanzo, Rivisondoli, Roccaraso, Rocca Pia and Palena. There are many types of bread (each country, each bakery, has its own recipe and starter yeast), generally sturdy and long-lasting, produced with local wheat; one very tasty type is known as pane nobile di Guardiagrele, whose recipe (based on a complex blend of superfine, whole, maize, oats, barley, millet and rye flours, with sesame seeds, extra-virgin olive oil, cheese, water, salt, starter yeast and a small amount of brewer’s yeast) is rooted firmly in the Middle Ages.
Its typical trait is its sturdy richness and lengthy shelf life, combined with the typical spicy scent. There are a great many different items of patisserie: the highly renowned Sulmona comfit, with a whole almond dipped and coated in layers of sugar. It is also typical to find brightly coloured and creative packs, often made into intricate, elaborate “bouquets”. Then there is the delicate sfogliatella from Lama dei Peligni, with its oval shape and melting layers that embrace an exquisite filling of grape and sour cherry jams, must syrup, walnuts and cocoa.
Another particularly splendid cake is the sise delle Monache, whose typical allusive shape has three peaks (breast-shaped to be precise) that form a triangle, and sometimes called Tre Monti or “three peaks” for the puritans who balk at the cheeky humour of the more common name. This recipe is typical of Guardiagrele and is made up of two layers of melt-in-the-mouth sponge cake filled with confectioner’s custard. Rapino pasticci are another typical delicacy worth sampling, and are served traditionally at ceremonies and parties: these are tartlets filled with a creamy mixture of milk, dark chocolate, lemon and chopped almonds, sprinkled with ground cinnamon.
Then there are liqueurs, of which Tocco Casauria Centerbe is the most famous, for personality and originality. The product has an unmistakable emerald green colour and is very alcoholic (over 70°!), with an intense aroma of herbs picked in the district, brought fresh to the distillery where they are left to dry out and are trimmed until only the tender leaves remain. The recipe has very ancient origins and even now is a closely guarded secret that only the manufacturer’s family knows.