Notaresco, Chieti, and Alba Fucens

Abruzzo Travel Blog

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My great-grandfather lived in a small town called Notaresco before he emigrated to the US, and today we went to visit the town and see the house he was born in. It's a quiet little town, probably more of a village, perched on the top of a hill between the Apennine mountains and the Adriatic sea. The views of the surrounding countryside and mountains in the distance are beautiful. The town, itself, didn't have much to see. It was an early Saturday afternoon and the only place with any life was a small bar with about 10 old men sitting in the back room playing cards. So we made a lunch our of the salami and cheese bought a couple days earlier and sat outside to enjoy the nice weather and take in the great views. Before leaving the town, we also made a quick stop at the cemetery and found the family mausoleum where my great-great-grandmother was entombed. It was pretty fascinating seeing these things, even if it is a very remote connection that I have with them.

Next on the itinerary was a trip to Chieti, where the Museo Archeologico Nazionale d'Abruzzo is. This is a small but fascinating museum that holds, among other things, the "Warrior of Capestrano" sculpture. The statue is famous as it is one of the best preserved relics of pre-Roman Abruzzo. It dates from somewhere between the 4th and 6th century, and is sculpted in a way that is entirely different from anything the Romans did. The statue presumably portrays a dead warrior who is being propped up on his feet by two poles at his side, and with a funerary mask covering his face. The shape of the figure is very stylized, with the body having female characteristics. It reminded me a bit of statues of the Egyptial pharaoh Akhenaten. I know that doesn't sound like a reason to make an hour-long side trip, but it's a fascinating piece of history, and for me made it was well worth it :)

But the history lesson wasn't quite over yet. We were driving back to Rome for an early flight the next morning, but we had time for one last stop at the site of the most important Roman city in Abruzzo - Alba Fucens, tucked away behind the modern town of Antrosano. The layout of the town was still quite clear from the ruins, the roads remained in good condition, and even the Roman crosswalks were still there. The sun was setting fast, so we had just enough time to walk around and take a few pictures before heading to a local restaurant for dinner. There were all of about 5 tables at the small restaurant, and the owner/server spoke slowly enough that I understood most of the choices this time (unlike my bad experience the previous night). Tonight I went with a chitarra pasta (like spaghetti, but very popular all over Abruzzo) and a simple ragu' sauce. Much better than the previous night's choice :) And that pretty much ended our Abruzzo road trip (I will skip the bit about not being able to find out hotel that night).

Though I hate to give away the secret of Abruzzo, I would highly recommend this part of Italy to any traveler. I have traveled much of the country, and can honestly say that this is the most beautiful region of Italy, and we hardly even scratched the surface with our short three day trip. The region also boasts great food, historical sights, museums, nature reserves, and beaches, so there is no shortage of things to do. And I saw fewer tourists here than probably anywhere else I have visited in Italy.
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