My parents had flown in to spend a week with us in Italy so we decided to visit our neighbouring town of Pretoro.
Pretoro is an old town right in the Majella National Park (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Majella_National_Park) with around 1,200 inhabitants. Half of the townhouses are abandoned and for sale. The houses that are lived in, are stunningly restored with real love and care. You can pick up a house needing restoration for around 30,000-40,000 euros. Most have balconies and/or roof terraces. Another friend of ours, Susan, lives there and her home is amazing. She has the biggest roof terrace in the town and the views are amazing. Pretoro is nestled on the side of the mountains and you can see the Adriatic very clearly. It has a renowned snake festa every year where if you are standing in the right place and therefore (un)lucky, you will be draped in snakes!
We stopped off first to see our friend Maria, whose cafe is situated just before you drive up into Pretoro. Maria makes the most fabulous pizzas and sweet pastries. After a cannolo and cappuccino (boy, do the Italians love their sweet breakfasts!), we went for a walk around Pretoro with the hope of finding somewhere for lunch.
We had hoped to eat at a well-known restaurant, which is meant to be fabulous, called ‘La Torre’, but we found out it is only open for large bookings such as parties and weddings these days. In the end we ate at a little family-run restaurant where we ate arrosto misto (mixed roast/grill), insalata (salad), patatine fritte (fries) and ravioli, followed by tiramisu gelato.
The temperature was 29 degrees that day, which sounds a lot to anyone from colder climes, but after spending our first day in 42 degrees, it was positively perfect.
We walked around the rest of Pretoro to burn our lunch off.
When we returned home, some of our lovely neighbours with the adjacent vegetable plot, gave us a huge basket full of tomatoes almost as big as Ralph’s head, white onions, aubergines (eggplants) and peppers.
On our travels we had noted that there was a festa on in a nearby town, an onion festa (Festa della Fara Cipollara). That evening we headed off to a pizzeria called ‘Il Lago’ (the Lake). The staff were so charming and made a huge fuss over the boys, particularly Ralph with his blonde hair and blue eyes. It was one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten. I had an Adriatica which is a ‘white base’ pizza, which means no tomato sauce, it had tuna, anchovies and onions on top. Simple, but so delicious. Even the chef was a really amiable guy and he waved ‘Ciao!’ to us before flipping another pizza base in the air as we left.
We were able to leave our car outside the restaurant and walk a few metres into the town hosting the festa. Fara Filorium Petri (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fara_Filiorum_Petri) was absolutely heaving with people. Many had visited from the surrounding area. We didn’t know what to expect, but literally there were lots of stalls where you could eat all varieties of locally grown onion. There were also stalls where you could take away sausages and other items to eat with onion. We were full after our pizza and had no room to try anything! A lesson learned for another trip. There was live music and all the children were up. It was nice just to wander round and take it all in.