Beautiful Abruzzo: but tough autumn and winter 2016

Abruzzo, one of the most beautiful regions in Central Italy, is trying to come out of a really tough six months, a very troubled end of Summer and Autumn.  And is facing up to one of the coldest winters on record.

In the Summer 2016 a series of earthquakes shook some of its cities and villages which were still licking their wounds after “the big one” which hit L’Aquila, its capital city, in 2009 destroying a good part of the city and ancient monuments and churches. The winter 2016-2017 was one of the coldest on record with heavy snowfalls on all its territory which have even covered its famous sandy beaches licked by the Adriatic Sea.

Up in the montains it was a drama for many:  over 30 tourists blocked by the snow in a grand hotel recently built in a valley overlooked by the highest mountain in Abruzzo, the “Gran Sasso” (Big Boulder), was suddenly covered by ice and snow which fell from the mountain after the area had been hit by the earthquake. The hotel was crushed and it was a miracle that a score of people (6 adults and 4 children) were found still alive by specially trained military forces.

A terrible chain of events which caused the death of over 30 people. However the dedication and sacrifice of scores of volunteers and helpers who had to reach the hotel on their skis since all routes had been covered by snow up to several meters became for many an example of real solidarity. Something Abruzzo has to be proud of!  A tragedy but also a great opportunity to show to the world what Abruzzo is made of.

Belgium and Italy

It is made of people who are hard workers, who know how to work in difficult conditions. Many workers from Abruzzo came to work in Belgium from 1946, when Italy and Belgium signed a Migration Protocol which allowed thousands of workers from Italy to come to Belgium to dig coal from its mines.

It was an exchange between Italian men and Belgian coal, which lasted until 1956 when a mining accident in the mine of Bois du Cazier in Marcinelle (near Charleroi) caused the death of 262 workers. Half of them  were Italian and a high percentage of the dead were from Abruzzo, mainly from the villages of Manoppello and Lettomanoppello where there were over 30 dead. Manoppello still participates to the commemoration of this tragic event  every year with the participation of the mayors of the cities involved.

This has created a special link between Belgium and Italy, a link of solidarity and understanding, a link that implies a lot of exchanges between Belgium and Abruzzi. The italians of Belgium and their friends from the area now visit the Abruzzo regularly because they appreciate the beauty of the area, which offers the possibility of holidaying in the mountains and on the seashore, and sampling the exceptional range of products and special dishes that the area offers to the visitor.

Many people from Brussels adore the Abruzzo cuisine and they can find many of its products and wine in some restaurants and shops opened in Brussels by people from the area. One of them is Vini & Sapori owned by Alessandra De Leonardis. 

The important thing is to keep one’s eyes always opened on the beauty of Abruzzo and the generosity of its people. This people never give up, they always clench their teeth and go ahead, tough and resistant like the boulders of their mountains but gentle like the sea licking their shores for the joy of tourists and locals alike. A great place to discover.