Eyeing up Abruzzo: Part 1, Tagliacozzo and Città Sant’Angelo

Peter Rosel

We love our Life In Abruzzo Facebook group for helping us to learn about this very diverse region, where rites and recipes can just be unique to one village, not its nearest town, city or province.

This diversity can be challenging, particularly if is your first time to the region and are considering buying a house here. We asked  one of our members, Pete who was visiting with his wife, if we could seralise his fantastic posts to help guide others who are thinking about buying a house in Abruzzo which he agreed to!  They offer a superb, independent way to get out of the starting blocks when deciding on locations in Abruzzo with a view to approaching the property trail.


Likes: The locals – Italian and expat. The Italians in Tagliacozzo were lovely; easygoing and patient, almost always with a generous and sincere smile. Whenever we mispronounced Tagliacozzo (Which was every time I said it. I couldn’t get the points of emphasis right.) they always gently corrected me. Which I appreciated. The drive from Rome was very easy (approximately 90 minutes) and there is a train station in town, for those who prefer to avoid driving.

Like the Italians, the expats were generous with their time and knowledge and simply a jolly group. One thing that has stood out to me about Abruzzo is how tight the expat communities are and how proud they are of their towns and regions. They subtly, but unapologetically, try to recruit you to their town like other people try to get you to root for their favorite football team (American or soccer).

Tagliacozzo has some nice restaurants. We really enjoyed Alla Fontana. The food was excellent, the staff patient and the meat grilled on a wood fire right there in the dining room. For local products (cheese, cured meat, wine, etc.), I highly recommend Le Fromage. The owner (I assume) was very nice and patient and the products of high quality.

Dislikes: Despite being a man of rather average height, my bald head feels as pock-marked as the moon from everything I bumped into.

Notes: Not a lot of English is spoken in Tagliacozzo. As I said above, the locals are very nice and patient, but I suggest being prepared to practice your Italian. Even just a few words go a long way. And being able to read and understand a little more than you can speak (being able to sort out the vegetables on a menu, for example) is a great help.

The oldest part of Tagliacozzo is a trek up something that is a cross between a cliff and a hill. It is steep. I’m pretty fit. I workout four times a week, and do cardio each of those days, and my calves were screaming after two days in town. If you want to avoid improving your health, either skip Tagliacozzo or get a place on the flat land, near the piazza del obelisco. To be clear, this is not a complaint; but I wanted to share it as it could be important information for some who want to visit.


Città Sant'Angelo

The views from Citta Sant’Angelo grab you immediately. And I mean grab you by the collar and stand you up straight. You have the mighty Majella off in the distance to the south, lower land and farms all around the city atop its hill and the sea just to the east. The views are simply fantastic. You can see other towns on other hills in almost any direction. The centro storico is compact and pretty. There is some sprawl, to the south and east in particular, but with that comes some bigger grocery stores and other amenities.

Last night we drove into Pescara to catch the football match against Pinteo. We got lucky and found parking within half-a-kilometer of the stadium, bought two of the better seats in the house for $30 and set out in search of the food trucks we were promised. But, before we get to food trucks, let’s talk about tickets to European soccer games. If you found one of these on the street, you’d think someone lost their boarding pass – no exaggeration, check the attached photo. To get one you have to hand over an ID, and the tickets include your full name, birthdate, region or country of origin and blood type – ok, I did make that last bit up. But you get the point. My only guess is they don’t want people buying tickets and then handing them over to ultras who’ve been banned from attending. On top of all this, the ticket office looks more like a bomb shelter, with walls more than a foot thick.

So, food trucks. That turned out to be a bit of a wild goose chase. Along the way I asked a guy who, dressed in Pescara blue, was clearly going to the match if he knew where the food trucks were. He, his wife and son all looked at us a bit confused or incredulous (which, I’m not certain) and his wife explained that there was a McDonald’s around the corner. I smiled and politely explained to her in broken Italian that I was from California and hadn’t travelled to Italy for McDonald’s. Ultimately, we literally walked all the way around the stadium only to end up back at the two trucks we’d seen initially, certain there must be another location. Luckily, we’d arrived plenty early and had just enough time for this misadventure.

The match itself was…uninspiring. It turned out to be a tournament game between Pescara and Pineto. It was not well-attended. The two most entertaining things were the Pineto fans – with their drums and songs – and the grumbling and cursing of the old men there rooting for the home team. The stands were nearly empty and, overall, the quality of the footy was reflected in the price of admission. Having said that, I would absolutely go back to see a better-attended match. I can imagine it would be a blast.

Tonight we drove just outside of Citta Sant’Angelo and had dinner at this family-run restaurant Ashwaag found; it was called Mugnaia – which, from what I gather, is a type of local pasta. We’ve had a lot of great meals on this trip, most of them have been in the $60-$75 range. The food at Mugnaia was fantastic, and dinner for two was $30!

We had some sparkling water and started with the mugnaia – how could you not – with a ragu sauce, then had a small mixed salad and some arrosticini (lamb skewers). The arrosticini were excellent.

Tomorrow they’re having a festival in Citta Sant’Angelo for San Martino. We’re both looking forward to checking that out.

Peter Rosel
Author: Peter Rosel

Peter Rosel is a native Californian, currently living in San Francisco with his lovely wife, Ashwaag. They're actively plotting their escape for when they retire, score a couple of residency visas and make living in Abruzzo a reality.

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