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Vincenzo tells you where to go and what to avoid in the
National Park of Abruzzo

Did you know that there's a National Park of Abruzzo? No!? OK let's begin again!
Do you know whereabouts the Italian region of Abruzzo is?
It's the Northern part of our South of Italy! It's to the Eastern side of Rome, our caput mundi. This means that Abruzzo is in the central part of Italy, in the heart of our mountain chain, the Appennini.

Abruzzo is mountains, each one finer than the other, but also it's the sea - the Adriatic Sea. Abruzzo is very famous for its Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo: with a ring of mountains, six small towns and thousands of paths for good boots, good legs, good heads - the best mix between heart and brain.

Sorry, but the quality of hospitality is not always that high It's distinctly variable, so I'll suggest where you should go, and perhaps more importantly, where to avoid too!

There's a very nice small town, sleeping on the side of a green mountain, called Civitella Alfedena. No road goes through this town, so you have to choose to go to Civitella Alfedena, otherwise you'd never come across it! Leaving behind a bridge on a delicious lake, the road winds up high to reach Civitella Alfedena.

Don't even think about dinner at Le Dolci Notte - they serve only ordinary dishes and there's a high price for indifferent quality. Plus, the service can be bad, very bad. Meanwhile, we enjoyed dinner at Lupo Cerviero, a nice restaurant down in the centre of the town. Lupo Cerviero is named after the Lynx, one of the wild animals protected in the Park. The first courses are very good: handmade macaroni with mushrooms and white tartufo.

In my opinion, the worst restaurant in the National Park is Il Transumante at Civitella Alfedena. They aren't able to keep pace with their guests and the food is pretty bad. Macaroni with fresh sauce of tomatoes!? - the sauce was cold - from the freezer, really. And beef that was so over-cooked it was black in colour and we couldn't eat it. I expect they'll set up a Trattoria in the Fulham Road.

We found a very good restaurant at Opi, another district of the National Park. The restaurant is named La Pieja - Pieja isn't an Italian word, but in the local dialect it means the long stones of those particular mountains. So, it's a nice restaurant (a small hotel, too) offering delicious first courses: bavette ( long macaroni ) in a sauce of zucchine, ravioli with tartufo and acciughe, (artichoke) and a wonderful mix of grilled beefs and cheeses for the main course. We drank a very good Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, a strong red wine, by Bruno Nicodemi. Their Creme brule is a dessert that you'll remember.

Another very good restaurant is at Villetta Barrea, on the opposite side of the lake looking at Civitella Alfedena. The restaurant, also a small hotel, is named Il Pescatore (the fisherman). There was Tagliolini with tartufo (white truffles) and a very delicious trout cooked in white wine.

And hotels ? A very bad solution is the Hotel Valdirose at Civitella Alfedena. It's a three star hotel but the service isn't good, the breakfast poor and the same with lunch and dinner too. Small and with shabby old furniture the rooms.

But these two small hotels are worth a try: Ai Quattro Camosci and L'Anemone, both in Civitella Alfedena.

Vincenzo d'Antonio January 2001

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