Tuesday, September 7, 2010


View from the town castle looking west at Gagliano
When my  former employer decided to pull out of Ann Arbor, those of us left behind were offered a training allowance. There were no guidelines except the school had to be accredited. I enrolled in Wayne State's Summer in Abruzzo program to learn Italian and culture. Students would stay in a former monastery in the little mountain town of Gagliano Aterno.
Our monastery looking northeast

View from my window looking southwest
When I told people where I was going, they drew a blank when they heard 'Abruzzo' even though it is fairly close to Rome. Ask people where they want to go in Italy. Top answers: Venice, Florence, Rome, Amalfi Coast, Cinqueterre, Lake Como...Abruzzo never appears. It is beautiful with high mountains, 1000 year old towns, no crowds... Apparently the director of The American thought so too and was going to film there when the earthquake hit in April 2009. He wanted to film in L'Aquila, the provincial capital where the Italian students in our program came from but it was damaged too much. See http://www.focusfeatures.com/film/the_american/
He filmed in Sulmona, Castelvecchio, and another town instead. He wanted the world to see how beautiful Abruzzo is. 
 On my stat counter, I can tell which pages are visited the most and which pictures are downloaded. The number one picture is one of Castelvecchio that I took the last weekend I was there.

There is a gorge that Castelvecchio is on the edge of. These houses are typical Abruzzese structures. There is a curtain of plastic beads in the doorway of the house in the center. Also very typical.
 During the program, various towns would host us and make us dinner: Secinaro, Vittorito,Goriano, Molina, Celano,and Castelvecchio. Gagliano is a commune of 310 perched on the side of a mountain. Further up the mountain is Secinaro. Down in the valley, is Castelvecchio, having 3000 people, a supermarket, a ATM, a farmacia and 2 gelato stores. It also had a Alfa Romeo dealership which puzzled me as the residents seem to be very poor. If we needed anything, there was a van that would take us to Castelvecchio. We'd often chill out in the town piazza with our gelati or apertivi until dinner.
In the morning, I would run: either up the mountain to Secinaro or down to Castelvecchio. There are no flat pieces of land.

Medieval aqueduct that runs through Sulmona. There is a shot of this in the movie
My roommate yesterday had told me about The American starring George Clooney. She saw it and was thrilled to see some of the places where we had been. Several scenes were shot in Sulmona, the largest town in the area that we visited. The poet Ovid came from there so everything is Ovid this or that.
The town of Sulmona seems to have two industries: confetti making and apertivi (fancy liquors). Both were fun to sample. They would make elaborate bouquets of flowers made from candied almonds. Too pretty to eat.
I have to see this movie for myself.

Labor Day is the official end of summer. So sad. Although I love fall, it means the barren winter will be coming soon. We had a low key weekend. I did watch Ms. Maya for a while when Steve took Naomi shopping. She woke up wanting to eat and I had nothing for her.

Tonight a friend and I will go see Eat,Pray, Love with more scenes of Italy, the more well known spots.

Castelvecchio alleyway

1 comment:

Teri Bernstein said...

Wow..the pictures are great! And you are sure to recognize some of the scenes in Rome in Eat Pray Love...but the movie is ONLY good for the scenery and the food...


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