So hopefully you are following me along on this trip to Abruzzo..and now to the mountains. My favorite little ‘citta d’arte’ in the mountains is Tagliacozzo. It is neatly tucked away in the mountains of Abruzzo. Big enough to have a main piazza with some great coffee bars and ristorante and even a few boutiques but small enough not to have any fast food resturants or shopping malls or any franchises. It is a well known resort and refuge for many Romans.. it is not far from Rome, not too expensive, quiet..not touristy except for the locals…-the perfect spot.
And, it is really a little city filled with art from the monasery of St. Francis that has old frescoes on the wall that date back to the middle ages, to the convent and church of St Cosmas & Damian. The cloistered nuns there make these wonderful pastries for sale on Sundays.But you have to know the proper procedure to buy them. Cloistered nuns can not be seen by anyone in the outside world, it is a bit of an experience. And when you have completed your purchase, you feel like you have accomplished a great feat.
Walking up the high hill in the old part of Tagliacozzo to the convent, ringing the old bell outside the door to find a lazy susan that opens up with just a peep hole and a voice asks what you want (in Italian of course). You must tell her that you want ‘dolce’ sweets. She will ask “how many” and you will then tell her an even amount (10,12,24). She will tell you the cost. You put your money on the lazy susan and turn it around so the nun receives it. Out comes a beautifully wrapped package with your little cookies and cakes and your change. You have just made a business transaction without seeing the cloistered nun. A heavenly experience awaits when you bite into the tasty morsel!
But there is more to Tagliacozzo then the churches. The summer’s film festival provides some interesting entertainment. And now to the food, of course, I told you I get hungry on these trips to the mountains- If you walk along the main street in the little town there is a little ‘forno’ or pizza oven. it is just marked FORNO.,.. ah my favorite pizza..thin not too doughy just right especially if you time your arrival for when the pizza is coming out of the oven.
Then there is the beautiful view and the crisp air. Whether you choose to stay down into the center of the town or go up to the top known as ‘piccolo svizzera’ (little Switzerland) for how much it resembles Switzerland-green rolling hills high up in the mountains.
My family originated from this town and I can’t help but being brought back to a time when all I knew of Tagliacozzo were the pictures that were passed around the Sunday dinner table. My grandfather would always end Sunday dinner with memories of Tagliacozzo and he would always have the photo of the sign with the town’s name on it. The sign is still there, it still looks the same as when my grandfather first showed it to me from a photo.
This magical little kingdom, or at least from my eyes as a 4 yr old, it always looked like that-castles and mountains and beautiful art. Could that be my fascination with this beautiful town or is it that wide eyed wonder of a little 4 yr old who still remembers the stories of her grandfather telling (what seemed like)strange tales of a far away land. Oh how that intrigued me so much so that I knew in my heart one day I was going to get there and get there I did ..
Pecorino D’Abruzzo is one of the specialty cheese made by the farmers there from sheep We used to make this at our family’s vineyard in Tagliacozzo. Here is a traditional recipe from Abruzzo. Although you won’t be able to find this specific type of Pecorino from Abruzzo unless you are there, you can find Pecorino almost anywhere now.
Palotto Cacio e Uova
For 4 people
8 ounces of plain bread crumbs
2 tsps of freshly chopped parsley
2 chopped garlic cloves
2 tblsps extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese
Place bread crumbs, pecorino cheese, and eggs in a bowl. Blend with wooden spoon. Add in chopped garlic and parsley, blend well. heat olive oil in saute pan. Roll mixture into the size of small meatballs and fry till crispy. Place on paper towels to drain. Serve with a tomato sugo (sauce) or plain.
Here is a link to the podcast you might enjoy from my latest radio interview on my travels in Italy:
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