There is no better way to brighten up and distance the memory of being cooped up during the pandemic than treating kids to some snowy sledging or snowshoe adventures in Abruzzo over the winter
February in Abruzzo
February in Abruzzo, a topsy turvy month of love and heightened imagination, welcoming lighter, longer days…and fever!
The month is named after the Roman goddess of fever, ‘Febris’, the Latin word for fever and her festival was known as ‘Februa’. This built on the idea that fevers were positive and if you got through them particularly malarial fevers you’d be all set for sunny spring. Numa Pompilius, King of Rome in c700bc, built this festival into a month when 10 months became 12 in the Roman calendar.
The Roman Catholic church added the feast day of San Biagio to continue the theme. He is the patron saint of throat afflictions, in church Sant’olio would traditionally be rubbed on your adam’s apple and you would eat a fenugreek-flavoured biscuit for protection against throaty ailments. Do try out these famous February biscuits, each a little different across Abruzzo’s provinces; they are always delicious!
For shepherding families whose menfolk were away in warmer climes with their flock, surely St Valentine’s Day helped channel love from thoughts of absence makes the heart grow fonder. It was no doubt easier to work with than the fertility celebrations of the Roman God Luperco that Valentine’s Day was built to replace.
Carnevale focused the fever-ridden delirious and those harking for the end of winter into imaginative, topsy-turvy play, and, in rich mercantile Venice, it marked the end of excesses. Back in pagans times this was a traditional feast, marking the end of winter and the return of farmers back to the fields. Today, it is packed with delicious cream and egg-laden treats, alongside dishes like Teramana ravioli, which is sweet and stuffed with ricotta, cinnamon and lemon zest. If you are not working that off in the fields you could contemplate skiing in Abruzzo today!
For those with any lingering fevers, there is the arrival of Lent, remodelled from the celebration of Februus, who was the God of purification. Its cleansing 40-day no meat diet still encourages eating local, with sampling and inventiveness of the flavoursome spring greenery and herbs.
It seems only right that carnival chiacchiere (chatter), a super-thin sheet of dough flavoured with either rum, fried to a crisp and and and finished with an extra-large puff of icing sugar should be our marker that winter is on its last legs
Montorio Al Vomano’s carnival celebration, La Morte di Carnevale, is held unusually on Ash Wednesday and since its inception lampooned established authorities to show that spontaneity, irony, satire, freedom and, therefore ‘Carnival’ itself had in fact died with the regime.
Ignore the Alps & head south to Aremogna, the preferred ski-destination for Romans & Neapolitans, where a budget family ski holiday doesn’t mean slumming it
Carnevale is famous for things being turned upside down; women become men, men become animals & ravioli gets an equal flipping in Abruzzo’s Teramo province with ravioli dolci di ricotta