#22 / Those strange stilt houses…

#22 / Those strange stilt houses… - Marco Moreo Milano

Reluctantly, I have had to leave the paradise of the Tremiti. But on the ferry I am still unaware that, on arrival in Termoli, a surprise awaits me: I’m talking about the trabucchi or trabocchi (as you can see, Italian has its mysteries for us too…), bizarre wooden constructions that I’m going to visit as soon as I step ashore. They are strange stilt houses with antennas stretched out over the sea, built at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to allow fishing during storm surges, when boats were forced into port: in fact, they work with winches capable of lowering and hoisting the nets into the water directly from the land. Brilliant!

I am fascinated by this invention, the origin of which remains uncertain: however it seems to be an effective example of man’s resilience to bad weather and an unbreakable bond with the sea – an inexhaustible source of sustenance, even if there is a storm. 

I can’t be the only one to appreciate this engineering devilry as further north (now in Abruzzo, between Vasto and Ortona) there is even a Coastal Trabocchi Park, stretching along the coast for around forty kilometers. The appearance of these buildings – which the poet D'Annunzio called “colossal spiders” – is so original that admiring them clinging together in succession is a spectacle within a spectacle. In some cases they have been transformed into delightful little restaurants where, of course, you can enjoy fresh fish cuisine... It’s virtually like eating on a fishing boat! Without the seasickness ;)

But this time for dinner I want to take you inland to Civitella del Tronto, a military fortress clinging to a hillside 600 meters above sea level – with an accompanying village – from where you can admire the whole coast, from the famous Gargano (in Puglia) to the promontory of Cònero (in the Marche): never before have I taken in a 350 km long stretch of the horizon with a single glance. WOW! 

In addition to being the last stronghold to resist the unification of Italy (in the mid-nineteenth century), Civitella is famous for an endangered type of pasta, so it’s a “duty” to enjoy a good plateful of it. Maccheroni con le ceppe are thick hollowed spaghetti made by rolling the dough around ceppe (wooden sticks, now replaced by steel wires). Dressed with meat sauce and lots of grated pecorino cheese, they are a worthy conclusion to my stop in Abruzzo, a fairly undiscovered but surprising and typical region of the country.

See you in a fortnight for the last stop on our tour of the Adriatic. Marche, here I come!