Here’s our local’s guide on how to spend 24 hours in the city of Teramo and its close by satellite small towns, many of which feature in the list of Borghi più Belli d’Italia (Most Beautiful Small Towns of Italy).
Our Guide – Olga Bibi Segaar
Olga left her birthplace, The Hague for Rome where she lived for 20 years and where she worked in the fashion and film worlds before moving to Teramo. and where she works with her husband who is an architect.
Teramo – A Summary
It has been eleven years since I moved from Rome to the provincial town of Teramo in Abruzzo, so it is high time to tell something about my adopted hometown. It is not a cosmopolitan city and it doesn’t have any famous sights, but I have come to love the city because it is so pleasant, without pretension or large crowds of tourists and with the ability to eat very well with its great selection of restaurants.
It got its name from the Romans, Interamnia meaning the city between the Vezzola and Tordino rivers. The city is surrounded by hills that are richly dotted with olive trees and vineyards, it is a drive of just half an hour to the beach and mountains. Teramo is also a lively student city where law, veterinary medicine and political science are taught.
Teramo has ancient origins; its first settlement can be dated back to the first millennium BC. The Pre-Roman history of the city can be touched upon with Necropolis of Ponte Messato (just outside the centre). It was during Roman times, that Teramo had its heyday, still visible are the remains of the theatre, the amphitheatre and some Roman villas, the most interesting of which is the beautiful mosaic of Domus of the Lion, which dates back to the 1st century BC. Until recently it was believed that Teramo dated back to the 3rd century BC, but a recent discovery in November 2019 revealed a Neolithic skeleton from the fifth millennium BC during the installation of fibre optic cables. Because of this special discovery, the Teramani are now regarded as one of the oldest ethnic groups on the Italian continent!
Saturdays & Where to Go Shopping in Teramo
On Saturday mornings, Teramo suddenly feels like it is a busy place with the arrival of the market that is scattered all over the city! Clothing, shoes, bags, fabric, pots and pans, flowers, plants, everything is for sale. The farmers’ market in Porta Romana is my favourite, where the local farmers sell their products, and you can buy olive oil, wine, honey and pasta from small local independent businesses. The women of the city do their shopping, exchange recipes and of course gossip. Saturday afternoon there is a lot of strolling on the Corso San Giorgio and the locals enjoy their aperitivo on a terrace of the many bars and cafes.
Nice shopping can be had on Via Nazario Sauro and Corso de Michetti, Corso San Giorgio and Via Vincenzo Cerulli, where there are beautiful clothing and shoe shops, as well as nice smaller and traditional shops. In bad weather, the Gran Sasso Shopping Center, a mall just outside the city, is a godsend. Keep in mind that the shops in the centre are closed from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm and on Thursday afternoons.
A City Walk & Sights to See in Teramo
Piazza Martiri della Libertà is the heart of the city, and this square hosts events and concerts and is full of stalls during the Christmas weeks. The Duomo or the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta is Romanesque-Gothic in style, and is one of the most important buildings in the city. The Paliotto, at the main altar, is a masterpiece by Nicola da Guardiagrele who worked on it from 1433 to 1448, 35 silver and gold tiles tell the story of the life of Jesus.
Admire Pasquale Celommi’s 4 seasons and other works by local artists at the Museo Civico, located next to the city park. Celebrities from the history of Abruzzo, such as Gabrielle d’Annunzio, can be found on the Giardini dei Tigli, we would say the Lindenlaan. Who knows if in the future the busts of politician Marco Panella and singer-songwriter Ivan Graziani will ever be seen here, both celebrities were born here.
The remains of a Roman villa from the 1st century BC can be seen in Piazza Sant’Anna. The church of Sant’Anna dei Pompetti dates from the Byzantine period and was built on the ruins of the old cathedral. The Teatro Romano was built during the reign of Emperor Augustus and the complex offered access to 3000 spectators! Nearby is the Roman amphitheatre, probably from the 1st century AD. Walking through the shopping street Corso Cerulli you will pass Casa Musii from 1908, with Liberty style paintings and where the Roman goddesses Flora and Pomona brighten up the street. A fire destroyed the city in the 12th century, and the Torre Bruciata is a remnant of a Roman bastion from the 2nd century BC. One of the few buildings from the Middle Ages is Casa dei Melatino, here you can admire antique pottery from the village of Castelli. Biblioteca Melchiorre Dèlfico is a beautiful building, just like Castello Della Monica (which is unfortunately still under construction but almost finished!)
What Local Teramana Dishes to Try
Gourmets are rarely disappointed with the Teramo kitchen. Try Scrippelle Mbusse, a skinny, rolled pancake in stock or the Timballo alla Teramana (a kind of lasagna made using crepes). Mazzarelle ( a delicious offal roll wrapped in lettuce), Le Virtù, a hearty soup pasta with legumes (especially for May 1), la Pecora alla Callara (slow cooked melt-in your-mouth mutton) and Arrosticini are all specialities of the city. Then there are the delicious Pecorino cheeses and wines from the hills around Teramo, the Vini di Colline Teramane. Those with a sweet tooth should indulge in, Pizza Dolce Teramana, Bocconote with grape jam and Pepatelli black pepper cookies, are to name just a few that are unmissable!
Great Restaurants in Teramo
Spoon – A Restaurant from Niko Romito Protegees
Do try Spoon, a small, cosy and contemporary restaurant in the centre. Their original dishes are prepared by two young chefs Marco Cozzi and Felice Cioci who both learned the tricks of the culinary trade from the Michellin star chef Niko Romito, at his cooking school in Castel di Sangro in Abruzzo. This is where the idea arose to start a restaurant together in Teramo. Spoon has room for 25 guests, Italian and modern dishes are their keywords, sometimes linked to the local tradition, but also fusion with foreign and oriental influences.
At Restaurant da Gilda you can dine with a stunning panoramic view across the city and the mountains.
Do visit Entoeca Centrale Teramo for a creative aperitivo and a great atmosphere! And others to try are Scuderie Savini da Mauro, Ristorante Borgo Antico, Pizzeria O’Sarracino and Trattoria Da Mauro.
Regular Sagre & Local Events
- The Desolata – Good Friday
This dates back to 1260: and is the representation of the Mother who goes in a desperate search for her son condemned to death by crucifixion. The procession winds its way through the seven most significant churches of the city. The men wear a black tunic and carry the cross, while the veiled women carry a statue of ‘Our Lady of Sorrows’. The statue was originally carried by the men of the Confraternity, but due to a scarcity of members in the Brotherhood in 1921 women were granted official permission to carry the simulacrum on their shoulders.
- The Sunday after Easter – The Peace Festival
- 1st May – Le Virtù
- May & June – Cantine Aperte (Consorzio Colline Teramane)
- 19 Dicembre – Fiera di san Berardo
I live on the winding Strada Statale 81, which takes you from Teramo to Ascoli Piceno, a beautiful route with authentic small towns and villages.
Just 10 minutes away from Teramo on the SS81 is the small town of Campli. It was an important border town between the then Kingdom of Naples and the Papal or Ecclesiastical State. Tolls were levied and trade was conducted. The town housed the guilds of the most important craftsmen and merchants and good money and fortunes were made. Thanks to its prosperity and position it received several privileges from the Papal States. One such privilege was the establishment of the Bishop’s Palace.
A Holy Staircase and on Your Knees up all 28 Steps
Another trace of that rich past can still be found in the “Scala Santa”. This Holy Staircase consists of 28 oak steps. Three large paintings of the cloister of Jesus hang on either side of the stairs. The believers were expected to climb up on their knees.
Campli is also known for its succulentPorchetta. In 1964 the townsfolk began their annual “Feast of the Italic Porchetta” or “La sagra della Porchetta Italica” which runs during the middle of August for 4 days. If you don’t make the sagra try the local butcher’s shop La Traversa Specialità Porchetta di Campli whose porchetta is wonderful and don’t forget to ask for the crackling too!
Civitella dell Tronto
From Campli you can already see the imposing military fortress of Civitella del Tronto in the distance. This fort is the largest in Europe built by the Bourbon Family (Borboni in Italian). They were the royal family of Naples, to which the Abruzzo region belonged until the unification of Italy. Civitella del Tronto was on the northern border of the kingdom, which was formed by the Tronto River. Due to its strategic location, it was possible to guard the border easily from the fort that sits high on top of this protruding rock. You can easily walk up to the fort from the beautiful village, but there is also a large escalator. The view from the fort is really fantastic, in a northerly direction you can see the Marche with the Monte Conero in the distance and in a southerly direction you can see the beautiful coastline up to Pescara in clear weather, and then turn around you can see a beautiful mountain range. Art exhibitions or concerts are often held in the summer. Other activities you can do here include free climbing of the cliffs or descending into the deep canyons of the Salinello River. You can also make beautiful excursions through the nature of the Twin Mountains or visit the ruins of Castel Manfrino.
A Chance to Bicycle & Roam
If you want, you can wander around here for days and really feel alone in the world. Each season has its own charm and is completely different, typical dishes vary from season to season, including truffles, wild mushrooms and colourful pumpkins. What a wealth I often think, when I enjoy this rural life by bike. If you are here you should definitely try the local Civtella handmade pasta with truffle or funghi, the local name is ‘ceppe’. There are still a few women in the borgo (a word that indicates village or small community) who make this home to the famous local restaurant Zunica 1800 Ristorante e Hotel On Sundays I like to cycle to a good friend who lives here and then we eat this delicacy on the terrace of his house that overlooks the mountains on one side and the sea on the other. While you are there, it is nice to have a look at the fortress itself where weapons and old maps are stored in the weapons museum, the latter of which is especially interesting in connection with the history of Civitella del Tronto. After a cup of espresso, I continue by bike on my way to Ascoli Piceno!
A Handful of Activities to Do & Visit Kids in Teramo and the Small Nearby Towns
- Explore Fortezza di Civitella del Tronto and its Musuem and antique map room
- Try the zip lines and high rope climbing at Civitella del Tronto Adventure Park in the pine forest
- Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Campli
- Necropoli di Campovalano an archaeological site located near Campovalano in the territory of the municipality of Campli
- Monte Gemelli has some great activities for children including Dawn and Sea hikes
Architecture and Consultancy in Abruzzo
Abruzzo is an authentic and surprising region. Life is pleasant, the locals hospitable and nature is overwhelming. and the sea and mountains are always close by. Here there are beautiful old buildings for sale which are ideal as a second home. Bibi and her husband created Studio Maurizio De Siati as an Italian-Dutch Architectural firm to help foreigners on their search to buy and restore a home in this region. The studio has a small portfolio of houses in unique places. For many customers, it is a relief when they work with them through the difficult bureaucracy and language barrier and they employ a professional team including an engineer, surveyor and contractor to help you realise your dream home in Italy in an honest and thorough way.