Tuesday, April 14, 2009
In 2004 we took a very interesting trip through Abruzzo and the Molise, two neighbouring Italian counties that have a fairly remote and to some extent backwards feel, even though they are really quite close to Rome, just east of it in fact, and only about a couple of hours away. This is mostly due to them being very mountainous , I think, especially in the highly recommended Abruzzo national park which almost looks like the Alps. For some reason, these areas, though interesting and featuring many old places, don't really seem to feature very much on the international tourist trails and when you arrive in Rome from the Abruzzo you feel you're suddenly landed in a much more touristy place where everything is double the prize and much faster.
Most people will have heard by now of the terrible earthquake in the old town of L'Aquila that has claimed many lives and allegedly damaged most of the many historical buildings in the town and surrounding villages. But I suspect most people in other countries will not have a real sense of the place, as it's not that famous outside of Italy. So we spent a couple of days over a weekend there during our trip, and fell a little bit in love with the place, actually we were hoping to go back at some stage (and still do). There were many old churches and buildings, a remarkable Roman bath, mountains all around it. It was quite lively, with a university, an arts centre in an old fort, many friendly bars. We discovered the music of the wonderful sad old crooner Frank Buscaglione in one of the bars near the main square. I remember a friendly student bar run by some beary looking types who invited us to sample the local grappas. And this amazing broad old staircase leading up to a church where the local youth would hang out in the evenings. I wonder what is left of all of this, I haven't really researched it but seeing the events unfold on international news programmes was harrowing, actually knowing the place and having met a few of the friendly locals. So anyway, here's some of the photos we took. My thoughts go out to the people of L'Aquila!