Thursday, September 21, 2006

Chieti and Guardiagrele

A church view from a vicolo in Chieti.

This past Sunday was our last weekend day before all of the madness of the spelunking season starts, so I politely asked if we could take a little day trip. After doing an intense weather search (so, did it rain in Siena after all?) we decided that our best bet was Abruzzo. That is: not the moutainous heart of Abruzzo, but closer to the coast. So we chose Chieti, with a stop in Guardiagrele, too. (It took me about 30 tries to pronounce Guardiagrele without pausing mid-way, but now that I can say it okay, it's such a cool city name! Try saying it...)

top: Abruzzese cheeses on display at the market; middle: more market views, and Antonello in the city centre; bottom: windows in a small piazza in Chieti.

Chieti had been my choice--someone somewhere had said that they liked it, so I, being the Abruzzo fan that I am (check out some of our past trips to the area here and here), decided that it would be on our ever-growing list of places to go. When we got there, we found a huge market occupying most of the city center, so much of our browsing was focused on the items for sale instead of the palaces that lined the main streets. Still, we finally got away from the market and sought out little corners of the town. We snapped away photos, found a set of three Roman temples in a grassy piazza off a side street, and almost bumped into the beautiful duomo, coming upon it from an off-road by surprise. Really, though, this is how we love to explore a place: discovering it at random.

Guardiagrele's duomo and famous dolci

Guardiagrele was tiny and almost written-off as a mistake as we wandered through completely empty streets toward disgarded piazzas and more empty streets. Luckily, though, we found the main street by way of the glitter of a goldsmith's shop (Guardiagrele is famous for its filigreed gold jewelry), and the church there made us rethink our entire opinion of the town. The church and its piazza were both perfect, and the town ended up being a charming place to end the afternoon, despite the fact that we were told, by literally everyone, that we should have come that morning (when, apparently, every shop had been open). We left after discovering the one open pasticceria, where we bought four little round, cream-filled cakes, the town's typical dolce. Licking our fingers from the sweet cream and powdered sugar we thought, "Perhaps there are good reasons to return to Guardiagrele some day...if not just to say the name outloud again?"

Enjoy the pictures. More of Chieti are here, at Flickr.


At 6:42 PM, Blogger Annika said...

Do you say GuardiAgrele or GuardiagrEle?

Those dolci... oh.

At 9:56 PM, Blogger Stelle In Italia said...

GUAR dia GRE le :)! (or, if you're like me at first....guardianglresnle....)

At 12:40 PM, Blogger Shirley said...

Great pics, love the cheese shot and the coca cola sign!We are going to Pescara next week so will definetely check out Chieti.


At 10:19 PM, Blogger Susan in Italy said...

The formaggi and dolci look delicious!

At 11:15 AM, Blogger Stelle In Italia said...

thanks shirley and susan! shirley: have a great time in Abruzzo--what brings you to this neck of the woods?

Susan: both WERE delicious! the pastry of the dolci was almost like angel cake--i had never had anything like it here in Italy. yum!

At 11:28 AM, Anonymous rowena said...

Yummm....I love that pic of the sweets. Never seen that one before!

Now that my pc is fixed I'll try to catch up on all of the blogs. I had to laugh when I read your previous post on catching up---heck it's almost lunch and I haven't even thought of what to make!

At 3:56 PM, Blogger Expat Traveler said...

wow - how much fun! It looks like a great city and a great time. I'd love to visit. And wow - that cheese looks yummy! Thanks for the well wishes!!!

At 6:41 PM, Blogger Cynthia Rae said...

This town looks like a gem! Hope to see it one day. Now, how do you get your pictures displayed in such a cute way? Do tell!

ps. See you friday for our party of two!

At 12:30 PM, Blogger Stelle In Italia said...

rowena: if you're ever in guardiagrele, i'd suggest you try this dolce! the shop we got it at was the oldest such pasticceria in town, and their recipe was top-secret...even the owner's SON didn't know the secret recipe!

expat traveler: any plans to be over in Italy soon? :) if so, let us know!

cyndi: glad you like the picture layout! :) easy stuff, i promise! can't wait for greek food tomorrow!

At 4:40 PM, Anonymous Jeff Cottrell said...

I like that picture of Antonello!

At 11:45 PM, Blogger Stelle In Italia said...

thanks jeff--isn't his washington d.c. shirt just the coolest? :)


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