A weekend in the countryside…

As you may know, I occasionally spend time in the Abruzzo region of Italy where T has a rural retreat and his workshop. Being a compulsively urban animal, I keep these visits to an absolute minimum since I invariably fall victim to some lurking natural peril, including  insect bites, poison ivy, nippy dogs, or my singular challenge of sun allergy. But sometimes the attractions are so strong that I have to overcome my aversion to a lack of subways and sidewalks, and this past weekend was one of those times. Two delightful sets of visiting friends plus the annual village festival were enough to lure me away from Berlin for a few days, and I’m so glad I made the effort.

Caprafico barely meets the definitive of a village, but that hasn’t stopped the locals from wanting to build their own church on site. If they come up with a certain amount of money, the local diocese (or some administrative body) will help them with the remainder, a powerful incentive in this economically depressed region of the country. As one of the money-makers, a festival is held every July. It’s a great time for the community to come together, eat local delicacies, and enjoy some live performers as well as hot Cuban line dancing. The latter was just getting started when we arrived:

Visiting friend P stopped eating the delectable arrosticini long enough to take some video to share of the festivities beneath an almost full moon:

But the belle of the ball was the adorable two-year-old daughter of a couple seen in the top photo. Hard to catch a Dancing Queen in action, but I think I managed:

The next day we heard about an art exhibit in a castle in a nearby hill town…and honestly. how can you say “No” to that? So after a grand luncheon of more wonderfully roasted meats, off we went.

But I must admit, we had failed to accurately understand the amount of effort needed to to actually reach the exhibit on foot. Needless to say, there were no elevators, just steep ancient staircases….

Roccascalegna, our destination, is a small village dating from the 15th and 16th centuries, at a time of great tension between two local armies, the Angevin (remnants of the French powers) and the Argonese (remnantss of the Spanish powers), both fighting for control of the region. Known for a long stretch of time as “Death Valley, the region has recently been trying to reinvent itself as a tourist destination. The Castello, seen at the top of the hill, is the main attraction of the town, not surprisingly, and the pedestrian path leading up to it has some delightful tourist attractions sprinkled along it, including small shops and bars, as seen in the yellow-ish portion on the left:

I was interested to learn that you can actually rent the castle for about $100 a day, and the mayor’s hope is that it will become a popular wedding and event destination….see this helpful article for details:


While I was definitely not prepared with the appropriate footwear, with some time and patience I eventually made it to the top. The views en route were well worth the effort:

The exhibit itself took place in what had been the baron’s chapel, built in 1577 (and now beautifully restored). Local residents at the time could attend, but they had to pay a special tax to do so. Seems it’s no wonder people in this region still yearn to have their own church. This room exhibited a special Italian-Iranian collaboration to use local Abruzzan wool in the creation of traditional Persian carpets. The other room showed abstract landscapes:

I snuck a look out one of the chapel windows that looked more like a defense position than a window for illumination, but then one could never be at rest in those days, it seems, even at prayer:

Here’s a shot of our intrepid group of art lovers and hikers, still standing as we exited the medieval portion of the village:

Back at home, we relaxed on the deck with some local cheese and vino, the perfect end to a beautiful day. But when I think about Abruzzo, some of my most heartfelt emotions are always reserved for the neighborhood dog who always seems to show up when I’m around, knowing I might need an escort through the brush and always hopeful of a bone or two…

Vale, Fido….I miss you…and until next time….

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