Gita Italiana 2010: The Rhythm of the Seasons in Abruzzo

Today we have a special treat for the Gita Italiana: this morning we’re spending time with Mary of The Flavors of Abruzzo, and then this afternoon, I’ll be posting information about the final book giveaway of August so be sure to check back later as well. But now, welcome Mary!


When Michelle proposed the Gita Italiana, I thought about all of the wonderful things I could say about Abruzzo.  I could talk about the National Park, the wildlife, the breathtaking views of the Maiella that I can see from my town. Or, I could talk about how close we are to the sea and the wonderful historic treasures that are all around us. But, as fantastic as all of those things are, they are not what really comes to mind when I think about my life here in the heart of Italy.

View of the Maiella

View of the Maiella

Upon moving to Abruzzo it felt as though I almost went back in time because this place is so closely linked to the rhythms of the earth. That link is so strong that even a person who has newly arrived can feel it. Yes, I know all about harvest time and I’ve grown my own vegetables, but I’ve never felt as attuned to the seasons as I do here. Even though we live in a modern world with computers and cell phones, we still take part in those seasonal activities that have been going on here for generations and generations, back into the mists of time.

Forget about football games and hayrides. These seasonal activities are all related to putting food on the table.

Spring is the time to plant and you’d better plant when the moon is in the right phase or your seeds won’t grow the way they should. Then the grain is harvested and the fields prepared for the next crop.

Pacchianella 2007: Festival of Madonna of Mt. Carmel

Pacchianella 2007: Festival of Madonna of Mt. Carmel

Of course, summer is when we enjoy the abundance of fruits and vegetables from the garden but then, in late summer, it’s time to preserve part of what the garden has yielded and can some tomatoes. You can make sauce or can them in chunks or even whole, but everyone does it. It becomes a part of conversation. No longer is the opening phrase about the weather, now it centers on whether or not you’ve done your tomatoes yet and how you do them.

When early fall rolls around it’s time for the vendemmia. Then later comes olive harvest time when everyone gathers their olives and takes them off to the frantoio for making oil. And once the cold temperatures arrive it’s time to butcher the pigs and make sausage.

Ventricina -- traditional pork salami

Ventricina -- traditional pork salami

Yes, there are some people who don’t do these things, but the majority of people are involved in at least some of them. We don’t have grapes, for example, nor do we raise pigs, so there is no butchering for us (thank goodness), but our lives still revolve around these activities as we watch the tractors full of grapes go by (or peaches when the season is right).

And, while you can sometimes get some vegetables and fruits out of season here, you pay very dearly for them. Unlike supermarkets in the states that seem to have grapes and cherries all year round, you can really only get them in season here. Consequently, I had no idea that there were winter vegetables, like broccoli for example.

While life is not perfectly idyllic here, there is definitely a fair amount of tranquility that comes from being so closely bound to the seasons. Since moving here, my life has definitely changed, for the better.


Some people said Mary was crazy when she walked away from a promising IT career to move to her ancestral town in Italy. Now 4+ years later she works part-time as a Freelance Translator and Writer and the rest of the time she spends chasing after her 2 year old son and enjoying life in Abruzzo. You can catch up with her on her blog: The Flavors of Abruzzo.




Grazie mille Mary!

5 Beans of Wisdom to “Gita Italiana 2010: The Rhythm of the Seasons in Abruzzo”
  1. Gil

    Thanks for this post! Somehow it has given me a better view of what I have had in the back of my head for many years. All I knew is that the sausage from Abruzzo is not overly spiced!!!! I learned this form one of my coworkers here in the states many moons ago.

  2. 08.30.2010

    Michelle /Mary- I’ve really enjoyed this gita Italiana and am vicariously traveling to all these places I’ve visited at one time or another in the past. Abruzzo is where my husband’s family hail from and the Maiella mountains in particular are special to me, since Maiello was my maiden name.
    Mary – I’m going over to check out your blog asap.

  3. 08.30.2010

    A wonderful slice of life in Abruzzo! I particularly liked how the talk of the town centered around tomatoes! Made me chuckle…

    Loved the gita Michelle. So great to hear about all the different customs around Italy and the voices of different writers.

    There is so much more of Italy to see and hear about though… back to school gita in September perhaps?

  4. 08.30.2010

    I really enjoyed reading this post and learning more about life in Abruzzo.

  5. 08.31.2010

    I couldn’t agree more about following seasonal eating and harvesting. The States has succumbed to frightening agribusiness and our constant recalls, etc., are a tribute to that.



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake