“Tour post” is the monthly column for getting to know the Terre dei Trabocchi in 48 hours. Today we discover the city of Vasto with a trip out to the nearby village of Monteodorisio and the forest of Don Venanzio.
Formerly known as Histonium, Vasto has ancient origins. Legend has it that it was founded by Diomedes, veteran of the Trojan War. A first settlement, the “frentano”, rose in nearby Punta Penna; then, with the arrival of the Romans, the city took shape into the Vasto of today. Conquered first by the Lombards, then by the Franks, it became the “Guasto d’Aimone”. Since 1496 and for over three centuries, the D’Avalos would tie their legacy to the city’s history.
3:00 PM- stroll through history and culture with a view of the sea
Walking through the paths of Vasto, following the ideal itinerary that embraces the whole historic center, one can relive the history of the city, from the ancient times up to our day, starting with the Roman period which displays itself in the Archeological Park of the Terme Romane (Roman thermals), where some of the most important mosaics of the whole mid-Adriatic coast are preserved.
Nearby one can admire the gate of the ancient Church of San Pietro, originally a Benedictine settlement from the year 829.
From here you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the splendid bay and reach the impressive and majestic D’Avalos Palace, once the residence of the noble family and now home of the Civic Museum.
Adjacent to the Palace, after crossing the entrance courtyard, the Neapolitan garden opens up overlooking the sea, between hedges of rose bushes, orange trees, lavender, rosemary, sage, jasmine, geraniums and climbing roses. After trekking around the pathway that runs along the wall of the building, where there lay gravestones and other archaeological finds, you reach the panoramic terrace.
On the eastern path that borders the ancient village, leaving behind the gardens of the D’Avalos Palace, is the Amblingh Lodge, a charming balcony suspended above olive trees, orange trees and gardens that slope towards the sea. The lodge gets its name from the Austrian Wilhelm Amblingh of Graz, Secretary of Cesare Michelangelo D’Avalos, resident of Vasto in the beginning of the eighteenth century.
The high houses and the narrow streets of the lodge have hosted for years fishermen, porters, and the descendants of marquisial shieldbearers engaged in coastal reconnaissance to spot the Turkish ships: we are in the district of Santa Maria, a bulwark of the popular Vasto spirit.
Continuing on we come to the birthplace of the poet and Patriot Gabriele Rossetti, home of one of the municipal libraries. Here, around the walls of the Amblingh Lodge, farther along, there is the only remaining medieval city gate in the whole city, Porta Santa Maria, also known as “The Chain Door”. Moving along between the narrow and characteristic alleys, you’ll find yourself in the heart of the city, in Piazza Rossetti, where the solemn monument to the homonymous and celebrated poet dominates, while in Piazza Barbacani you’ll stand before the Caldoresco Castle, once home of Giacomo Caldora.
If you fancy an aperitif, the selection is wide, starting from Piazza Rossetti, where guests can enjoy a drink outdoors at a cafe in the square. For lovers of wine and local specialties, Vineria per Passione, inside the Galleria de Parma, satisfies even the most demanding palates with wine and a typical dishes of Abruzzo, while for craft beers (from Abruzzo to sought-after Belgian venues) and wine “nature”, there is Drogheria Buonconsiglio that present cutting boards with cold cuts and cheeses.
It’s dinner time, and you certainly won’t be able to do without sampling Vasto’s typical dish, the celebrated “brodetto di pesce alla vastese” (fish soup). Out of the many locations we highlight the restaurant Cibo Matto and the Trattoria Ferri in Punta Penna.
12:00 AM Night
Vasto by night offers a wide range of choices; you can stay in town to drink with friends, eating an ice cream or just walking. But if you want to take a quick walk to Vasto Marina you will find locales open until dawn and live music, especially in the summertime.
10:00 AM Breakfast
Start your day by being pampered by sweetness of lu Furnarille. Here you can thrill your taste buds with local specialties like celli ripieni, bocconotti and other typical desserts of Vasto. For a more classic breakfast, with croissants and cappuccino, there’s La Vastese, a pastry shop with a wide variety.
11.00 AM Musei Civici di Vasto
Visit the Civic Museums of Vasto housed in the splendid rooms of D’Avalos Palace. The archaeological museum houses a collection of chronological and homogeneously stratified testimonies of the history of ancient Vasto and the surrounding area, from the Iron Age to the early middle ages. In the Museum there are sarcophagi, sculptures, vases, jewelry, weapons, and coins, in addition to a beautiful mosaic floor that comes from the area of the ancient Istionesian Baths, dating from the 1st century. B.C., where fish, sea monsters, and floral motifs are depicted.
The Pinacoteca contains a sector dedicated to contemporary paintings, in particular that of the 800’s, where you can admire the works of many Vastesian artists. La Galleria d’Arte Moderna (the Gallery of Modern Art) was founded instead as a natural continuation of the exhibition entitled “Mediterranea”, which opened to the public in 2002 the works donated to the town of Vasto by the Paglione family. The Museum of Costume includes a collection of paintings depicting traditional dress and a collection of precious garments from Abruzzo from the beginning of the 800’s to the beginning of the 900’s.
12:30 PM Lunch at the seaside
Get off at Vasto Marina, but first stop by Stanisci, in via Santa Maria, the historic “oven” of town. Here the pizza by the slice is a real must. Get yourself some and enjoy on the beach.
2:00 PM The sea of Vasto
If you fancy the sea, from Vasto Marina, along the old railway track, heading north along 18 km of coastline you will find unspoiled scenery and a crystal clear sea between high cliffs, rocks, coves and long sandy beaches.
Places like Trave, Casarza, San Nicola, Canale, and Vignola, are dotted with views of incomparable beauty, in a panoramic sequence dotted with trabocchi. Further north is the Punta Aderci Reserve, safeguarding the territory between Punta Penna and the mouth of the Sinello river.
The landscape is characterized by flat sections cut from cliffs near the coastline, steep slopes leading down to the sea, and dune systems. In these parts, in addition to sunbathing, guests can enjoy mountain biking, canoeing, surfing or just taking a stroll.
Nearby there’s also the beautiful pebble beach of Mottagrossa. Secluded and untouched, it’s lapped by crisp and crystal clear water. A short distance away is the nearby Punta Penna which offers a beautiful and wide beach of golden sand.
6:30 PM Aperitif in the wine cellar
Sample an aperitif with a visit to the winery. Not far from the Punta Aderci natural reserve, in Contrada Defenza, stop to sip a glass of Fontefico wine, a young, dynamic winery owned by the Altieri brothers. Nicola and Emanuele will let you explore the winery and taste some Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Pecorino, and Aglianico.
8:30 PM Dinner on the trabocco
Contemplate the sunset and dine suspended on a trabocco, a truly unique experience. There are two (restaurant) trabocchi in the area: the Eredi di Trimalcione in Punta Penna, and the Cungarelle trabocco in the vicinity of Vasto Marina on the Ss. 16 Adriatica.
11:00 AM Monteodorisio
Trek outdoors into the nearby village of Monteodorisio to admire and visit the magnificent Castle (15th century), once a Manor of the D’Avalos family. Today it’s home to the Museum of Art and Archaeology of Vasto. On the edge of the village, there is the sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie, built after a series of miraculous events started way back in 1886.
12:30 PM The Forest of Don Venanzio
Leaving Monteodorisio, head towards Pollutri. Nearby, a stone’s throw from the mouth of the Sinello River, you’ll bump into the wild forest of Don Venanzio that, approximately 78 acres wide, represents one of the last stretches of natural forest of the Adriatic coast. The interior is accessible by a path that parallels a canal that feeds into an old mill. The other paths open up along the banks of the Sinello.
If you fancy a picnic outdoors, on the edge of the woods, you will find an ideal place for your picnic.
Translated by Alan Glenn Embree
[Credits | Photography: trignosinelloturismo.it, Carmelita Cianci, Vincenzo Finizio – foto Vasto di notte]