Abruzzo Adventure

group in kitchen

In the kitchen with Antonella Santacroce, proprietor of Hotel Ovidius, Sulmona

Somewhere between the arrosticini and the zafferano, the porchetta and the pasta, the truffles and the torta nera; somewhere between the city of Sulmona, ringed with mountains, and the blue waters of the Adriatic, I thought to myself: this culinary tour thing just might work.

We were eight: five intrepid guests, two gracious hosts and one cooking teacher (me). During our eight days together we ate wonderful food and drank excellent wine. We picnicked on top of a mountain; we rolled up our sleeves and made pasta. Every day we met people ~ chefs, cooks, food producers, winemakers, entrepreneurs ~ whose knowledge and dedication inspired us.

The inaugural Abruzzo Presto ~ Domenica Cooks culinary tour is now in the books. We spent a lot of time around the table but we also got out into the fields and beyond (temples, churches, hermitages, fortresses!). There were a lot of laughs and even some tears of joy, when one of our guests reunited with family she had not seen in decades. Thank you Barbara, Marcie, Patti, Paula and Peter for joining Nancy, Michael and me on this great adventure.

As always, I returned from Italy inspired, with new recipes to share. Those are coming. In the mean time, here are a few visual highlights for you to enjoy…maybe even to whet your appetite. For while the 2014 tour is now history, our Abruzzo adventure is just beginning. Nancy and Michael from Abruzzo Presto and I are planning more trips in 2015 (details to come).

Think about it.


table at marchese

The table is set to welcome guests on the rooftop terrace at Marchese del Grillo B&B, Sulmona


Marta, proprietor of Marchese del Grillo, greeted our guests every morning with homemade pastries and a smile.

Sulmona roofs horizontal

A view of the rooftops of Sulmona.

Sulmona Piazza Garibaldi

Piazza Garibaldi, where the mercato sets up on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

picking peppers

Shopping for ingredients at the mercato before our cooking class at Hotel Ovidius.

Ovidius class

In the kitchen at Hotel Ovidius.

michael meatballs

Michael checks on the polpette (meatballs).

Antonella & Patti

It wasn’t all work ~ Antonella and Patti clink glasses.

porchetta truck

The Venditti porchetta truck ~ porchetta is a must when you’re in Abruzzo.


Now that’s what I call porchetta.

It wasn’t all about the food. We took time to explore the beauty around us.

hiking rocca calascio

Hiking the path to Rocca Calascio.

rocca calascio girls

Those walking sticks are good for hiking ~ and for beating back wild boars, should you encounter any.


Ugo truffles

Learning about black truffles from Ugo Serafini of SZ Tartufi.


Learning about Montpulciano grapes from Emanuele Altieri of Fontefico Winery.


Miriam DeLuca, Emanuele’s mother and a fabulous cook, prepares a selection of appetizers to go with our wine tasting.

Lina al forno

Lina Colafella, dear friend of Nancy and Michael, shows us how to make pizza in a wood-burning communal oven.

Lina's pizzas

Fresh out of the oven.

Lina & Nancy

Lina and Nancy a tavola.


olive oil tasting

Olive oil tasting: Francesca Di Nisio, owner of CantinArte, talks about the characteristics of good olive oil.

hay roll & olive trees

Olive trees in the late September light.


Giulia with greens

Giulia Scappaticcio hosted our Garden to Table class at her Casale Centurione Country House, in Manopello.

Peter & Giulia pasta

Giulia shows the class how to roll out pasta dough the old-fashioned way.

Marcie pasta

Marcie’s getting the hang of it.

Patti chitarra

Patti tries her hand at making spaghetti alla chitarra, an Abruzzese specialty.

making mugnaia

Making maccheroni alla molinara, aka “la mugnaia” at Casale Centurione.

table at casale centurione

The table at Casale Centurione Country House.

Michael Nancy Dom

Already planning next year’s adventures.

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27 Responses to Abruzzo Adventure

  1. Jamie October 9, 2014 at 7:55 am #

    Just amazing!! It looks marvelous and how I would love to be on one of your next tours! I am sharing the word because this deserves to be a smashing success! And you look fantastic!

  2. Mary Louise Tucker October 9, 2014 at 8:10 am #

    Wonderful to see Abruzzo through your eyes Domenica. I can’t wait to go back in 2015.

    • Domenica Marchetti October 10, 2014 at 8:26 am #

      I hope our paths cross over there, Mary Louise. Surely they will…

  3. Rosa Mayland October 9, 2014 at 8:21 am #

    Fabulous places, people, food and produces! A wonderful trip. It looks like you had an enjoyable time in abruzzo.



    • Domenica Marchetti October 10, 2014 at 8:27 am #

      Thank you Rosa. As much as I love the food of Abruzzo, it’s the people who really make it unique.

  4. Wendy October 9, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    Would love to join you another year!

  5. Marilena L. October 9, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

    Welcome back Domenica – it seems like you all had a great time!
    Now that you are back, let’s plan to get together some time soon!

    A presto,


  6. italyonmymind October 9, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    sounds and looks like you had an amazing time Domenica! the guests must have been stoked with the breadth of experiences. Everyone looks so happy! a great success.

  7. Patti Beasley October 9, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

    Domenica, I can’t tell you how fortunate I feel to have been on
    this amazing tour. I truly enjoyed every second and I learned so
    much! It was a perfect blend of cuisine and sight seeing.
    Thank- you and Abruzzo Presto for such a unique experience.
    I hope to return to Abruzzo someday soon!

    • Domenica Marchetti October 10, 2014 at 8:30 am #

      Patti, WE are the fortunate ones. It was a pleasure to have you on the tour. Thanks for all the laughter! I know you’ll be back. La tua famiglia ti aspetta…

  8. Barbara October 10, 2014 at 1:11 am #

    Last winter, when I first read the outline for our September tour, I was sure it was the culinary trip I had been looking for for a very long time. And I was right. Abruzzo, the region; Domenica, our culinary leader; and Nancy and Michael of Abruzzo Presto! were beyond-words fantastic. I can’t recommend Domenica and Abruzzo Presto!’s trip more highly. Save a spot for me in the future!

    • Domenica Marchetti October 10, 2014 at 8:31 am #

      Barbara, we are so glad you took a chance. It was wonderful to have you on the tour.

    • Manuela Galli October 17, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

      hI Barbara! I’m so happy that you enjoyed your tour so much!!! Elena is sending you her best wishes, Roberto and Dascia too.

  9. Phyllis@Oracibo October 10, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

    What a wonderful time you had! Looking forward to more posts about your time there! P.S. just got a chitarra cutter…yay!

    • Domenica Marchetti October 13, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

      You are in for a treat, Phyllis. I love my chitarra, which is actually my mom’s. It’s more than 50 years old but still works.

      • Phyllis @ Oracibo October 13, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

        Just like my mom’s rolling pin…it’s older than me! And it has special charms! Made chitarra again on the thinner side…it was fabulous!!

  10. Ciao Chow Linda October 11, 2014 at 12:46 am #

    Oh what lucky travelers to visit all those fantastic places and learn about Abruzzo’s culinary traditions from you. I recognize many of those sights and wonderful people and am wishing I could have been with your group. I’ll bet those guests will be talking about their memorable trip for years to come.

    • Domenica Marchetti October 13, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

      I hope so, Linda. Abruzzo is a memorable place, as you well know…P.S. I got your salted green tomatoes curing outside under a weight. They have a few days left before I bottle them. Can’t wait to try them.

  11. duespaghetti October 11, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

    What a wonderful experience! My mouth was watering at the photos of the porchetta. We’ve not traveled much in Abruzzo, despite Stefano’s family having several good Abruzzesi friends. You’ve convinced us to make it a priority next visit.

    • Domenica Marchetti October 13, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

      Definitely go, Due, especially since you have friends there. That’s the best way to see any part of Italy, vero?

  12. sippitysup October 13, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    I’m crying. Porchetta truck? Crying. In a good way. XOGREG

  13. bettyannquirino @Mango_Queen December 27, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    What an amazing experience. I would love to come to this culinary tour. There’s so much to learn and see. I can’t take my eyes off the Porchetta — it looks a lot like our own Lechon (roast pig) which is a staple during our ‘fiestas’. Thanks for sharing this wonderful culinary trip, Domenica. Do let me know when the next ones are. I hope I can come someday.


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