Abruzzo old villages – an heritage of medieval times

Abruzzo old villages
Pizzoferrato – Photo © neve.abruzzoturismo.it

Abruzzo old villages: Almost all the mountain centers of Abruzzo, sitting tight and protected on the peaks, were wise in their geographical setting and their own morphology for two reasons: the extreme danger of the Middle Ages, a period in which the majority of these villages arose, and the business (but it could be said mono-culture) of sheep farming, that was dominant in the mountains.

Built entirely out of living stone and mud, with a total, phobic absence of wood, all the old villages of the Abruzzo mountains express the obsessive attachment to stone, which is typical of the Mediterranean civilization.

Abruzzo old villages
Scanno – Photo © neve.abruzzoturismo.it
Abruzzo old villages: how they were built

These houses of bare stone, built close one to another, to form a compact, protective mass in the guise of a wall, are called “case-mura”, wall-houses, and are communicating their never-ending, the tormented need of a defense in a world of extended, feudal chaos, of the critical evasion of the central powers and therefore, the lack of organized systems of defense. The outside perimeter of the houses enclosed the village in a civilian but effective, defensive circle.

On the outside, there are few windows, almost as narrow as slits, placed on the upper floors. A direct consequence of the dangerous times, the so-called “defense barriers” represented the only solid system of self-defense for the local population. Real, fortified villages more than just castles, these allowed a prolonged, defensive retreat for the people, if necessary.

Abruzzo old villages: how they where inhabited

For a very long space of time, going from the XI century to the French revolution, this type of urban plan formed a typical model of a civilized settlement in the Abruzzo mountains.

Nevertheless, it is difficult to understand the sense of these human settlements, often pushed to the limits of habitability without putting them back in their place in that system of economic production that organizes, in its entirety, all life in the mountains: sheep farming.

In actual fact, as an economic activity predominant in Abruzzo for almost three millenniums, therefore the origin of a particular condition of life, sheep farming has made an impression on the territory not just limited to prints left in the pastures and sheep tracks.

Abruzzo old villages
Anversa degli Abruzzi – Photo © neve.abruzzoturismo.it
Abruzzo old villages: the transumanza

The great majority of the sheep, the huge flocks that periodically moved from the upper pastures in the mountains to the coastal plains of the Peninsula, are completely unconnected with the inhabited center: the transhumant sheep always live out in the open. They represented, however, a sort of additional capital that never became directly part of the life or urban plan of the mountain villages.

The actual style of every single house reflects this economy tied to a type of breeding which is based on large herds of small animals. The impossibility of moving this patrimony to the center of the village, the need of defense which tended to limit the extension of the center to be protected, and the steepness of the slopes, made a particular housing structure necessary in the shape of buildings with three, four, or even five or six rooms, one on top of the other.

A few items from Abruzzo

La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy
Fifty years ago, a group of Italian scholars gathered to discuss a problem: how to preserve traditional Italian cooking. They formed the Italian Academy of Cuisine to document classic recipes from every region. The academy’s more than seven thousand associates spread out to villages everywhere, interviewing grandmothers and farmers at their stoves, transcribing their recipes—many of which had never been documented before. This is the culmination of that research, an astounding feat—2,000 recipes that represent the patrimony of Italian country cooking. Each recipe is labeled with its region of origin, and it’s not just the ingredients but also the techniques that change with the geography. Sprinkled throughout are historical recipes that provide fascinating views into the folk culture of the past. There are no fancy flourishes here, and no shortcuts; this is true salt-of-the-earth cooking. The book is an excellent everyday source for easily achievable recipes, with such simple dishes as White Bean and Escarole Soup, Polenta with Tomato Sauce, and Chicken with Lemon and Capers. For ease of use there are four different indexes. La Cucina is an essential reference for every cook’s library.

Grazing In Abruzzo
Bruce Franchini (Director), Lidia Bastianich (Actor)
Lidia loves the region of Abruzzo! She describes the people there as welcoming, giving and jovial, and the hearty food of the region has left her with such fond memories. In the Abruzzese kitchens, Farro, a kind of wheat berry, is cooked as a whole grain and is manufactured in many shapes-both by small artisanal pasta makers and larger pasta companies. She makes this pasta with arugula and ricotta. Following her main course of Lamb with Olives, she creates the deliciously fun Scrippelle-which look like fettuccine-and tosses them in a hot caramel, citrus and apricot sauce for dessert.

Abruzzo. History and art guide
by Latini M. L. (Author)
Although it is a bit too synthetic, to the detriment of the overall readability of the text, the work provides an exhaustive description of the artistic heritage of Abruzzo, inserting points for observation not always recognized. Recommended.

Abruzzo 1st Edition
by Michael Kenna
Abruzzo, located in southern Italy, is known as the green region of Europe because of the system of parks and nature reserves covering more than one-third of its territory. In Abruzzo, Michael Kenna found a cultural identity that elsewhere, for the most part, has been lost to globalization and instant communication. Kenna photographed medieval ruins, ancient villages and a countryside rich in traditional cultivation. As curator Vincenzo de Pompeis writes in the book s introduction, 'Abruzzo's heritage, together with its impressive natural scenery, brings to mind romantic connotations that have historically attracted many international landscape artists, particularly in the 19th century. Michael Kenna fits perfectly into this rich historical vein of celebrated landscape artists who have worked in Abruzzo. Kenna's work often evokes the influences of Romanticism. In his photographs of historic rural landscapes, for example, there is an air of melancholy, which accompanies memories from the past. His images of ruins stir up feelings of passing time, of the constantly evolving ties between history and nature.' This gorgeous new monograph by renowned landscape photographer Michael Kenna is published to coincide with a major museum exhibition in Loreto Aprutino, Italy. Richly printed in duotone on matt art paper, and presented in an olive-green cloth slipcase with black debossed text on one side and a tipped-in image on the other, Abruzzo presents 65 images from the series, published here for the first time.

Michelin Map Italy: Abruzzo, Molise 361 (Maps/Local (Michelin))
Michelin created its first travel guide over 100 years ago to promote road travel and inspire driving confidence. Today, Michelin Travel & Lifestyle offers travelers an extensive range of travel guides, maps and online travel resources. These products deliver the same Michelin promise of quality and consistency consumers expect from one of the world's most trusted brands.
Publisher of travel guides, maps and atlases, Michelin Travel & Lifestyle offers a complete travel portfolio. Where to go, how to get there, where to eat & stay, and what to see & do ... all in one collection with extensive international & domestic coverage, especially for Europe. Our series includes Michelin (Red) Guides, Green Guides, Must Sees and Michelin maps and atlases.

Canti Della Terra D'Abruzzo
Ettore Montanaro
Buy MP3: all 51 at the same time, or each one individually.

Italian Folk Songs from Abruzzo 1927-1930
LA COPPIA SCIASCIA (Artist)
CD and MP3 reissue of the freat italian folk duo. Comes with rich notes and photos of the couple as well. Pasquale and Clara Sciascia immigrated to the U. S. from the Abruzzo region of Italy, settling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From 1927 to 1933 they recorded 44 songs fro the Victor, Columbia and Brunswick record companies. The Sciascias were the first to record a number of Italian and Abruzzese folk songs, 14 of which are reissued here for the first time in 90 years. The songs feature wonderful duet singing and exquisite string band accompaniment. Also included are notes on the couple and their music, photos, and the transcribed and translated lyrics. Includes 20 page booklet.