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    Anversa degli Abruzzi

    A small mountain town in the Sirento-Valino Valley. Anversa has a great agra-tourism sheep and goat farm, with an excellent selection of some rare and always interesting cheeses. A small residence for a few young people working there way across Italy and Europe, and a small restaurant make this a must see for anyone wanting to experience the real Abruzzo Mountain People. An old traveler, in 1912, described Anversa degli Abruzzi: "The mountains drop straight down, chipped, burned, scary, the river gurgling among the rocks, falls in cascades, runs away in streams, it is collected in ponds." It is this description that still suits this village that is clinging to a rocky cliff, under which open the prodigious Gorges of the Sagittario, which seem to look at the work of some majestic Titan, asleep there, in the vast rocky chasm. For the traveler who comes from Cocullo, the village of Anversa degli Abruzzi greets him with a show that can only be enjoyed in a few other parts of Abruzzo. The first houses of the village seem to form a protective wall; it opens only at one point in a path large enough to allow access to the historic center, Piazza Roma, where the daily life of the entire village takes place. In the background, dominated by rocky peaks, on which lies balancing the small village of Castrovalva, under which plunges the majestic Gorges of the Sagittario.
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    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.

    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.



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