Pescara

My list of places I want to visit in Italy is never ending but Pescara was never one of them. I had never heard of that city until Youssef surprised me with a weekend break there in September 2013. It’s a small city by the Adriatic Sea. Pescara is in the Abruzzo region, which may sound familiar to you since Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine is a known Italian red wine. It’s a lovely little town, ideal for relaxing weekend breaks, by the beach, with delicious Italian food and wine. We booked a hotel right on the beachfront called Carlton Hotel. It was simple, clean and had a big breakfast spread. It was also within walking distance to many restaurants, supermarkets, and shops so it was perfect for us.

We arrived early on a Friday morning and found a bus that went from the airport to near our hotel. The single ticket cost €1.50 which is the cheapest ride I’ve ever had from an airport to a hotel. It was really quick as well, it only took us 15 minutes to arrive. We obviously wore our swimsuits straight away and went searching for the nearest supermarket to grab a few things before going to the beach. The best thing about Italy is that no matter where you are, you’ll always be sure to buy delicious (and cheap!) mortadella, cheeses and bread. Even better, you’ll always find fresh fruits and vegetables.  I absolutely love that country.

September is low season in Pescara. Most beaches were clearing up their sunbeds and umbrellas until next summer. For me that was perfect because it meant that we had the whole beach to ourselves. We didn’t want any shade because the sun was shining but it didn’t feel very strong. The water was too cold for me to swim in but Youssef didn’t mind going in for a quick dip.

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We left the beach in the late afternoon to go for a walk. We went to a pedestrian bridge called Ponte Del Mare which links the Pescara Center and Pescara Portanuova (mainly to facilitate cycling around the city). We could see this spectacular landmark from the beach. Pescara is not very big – at least it didn’t feel like it – and because we felt lost, we didn’t want to go wandering too far away from our hotel on our first day. The views from the bridge are incredible with the Adriatic Sea on one side and the mountains on the other. After our walk, Youssef stopped for a slice of pizza from a small take away stand because when in Italy, a day cannot go by without pizza and gelato!

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After this little snack, we made our way back to shower and get ready for dinner. By then I was beginning to feel hungry and was excited for my first proper meal in Pescara. Since we were by the sea, I really fancied seafood. There was a stretch of restaurants on the seafront, which at first seemed like tourist traps to me but as we got closer to the restaurants, we noticed that most people sitting were Italian. We then came across a seafood restaurant which had a big menu. It caught my greedy eyes so we decided to give it a go. We entered and were greeted by friendly Italian waiters who sat us down straight away. They had a display of fresh fish and seafood in the middle of the restaurant which is always a good sign if you’re in the mood for seafood. It’s right on the seafront and if you’re organised enough, I recommend you booking a table outside. We had no choice but to sit inside, which we didn’t really mind. The restaurant is called Restaurante Pizzeria Marechiaro: http://www.ristorante-marechiaro.eu/ .

We started with the buffalo mozzarella caprese salad which our waiter highly recommended. I am not the biggest fan of caprese salad because I’ve always had it in Italian restaurants outside Italy and the mozzarella never really impressed me. As soon as I tasted the buffalo mozzarella at that restaurant, I was instantly converted! It was perfect in terms of its creamy flavour and melt-in-the-mouth texture. I couldn’t believe it. I had never experienced such amazingly delicious mozzarella cheese. From the type you get in the Middle East where I grew up (the light yellow shredded rubbery kind) to the ones your get in UK supermarkets (the white flavourless rubbery kind), I never really thought I’d be impressed so quickly. So do me a favour and next time you’re in Italy, please try some buffalo mozzarella and remember me. I had grilled seafood whilst Youssef enjoyed seafood spaghetti to start and veal for his main course.

For dessert, Youssef knew very well that my plan that whole weekend was to have as much gelato as possible so we went for a short walk and found a nice looking gelato place where I enjoyed my usual flavours: pistachio, nocciola (hazelnut) and stracciatella. They can never go wrong. I was on a mission to have my 5-a-day of gelato flavours! I was a bit weak the first day but I sure made up for it the rest of the weekend. That dessert though was a lovely ending  to our first day in Pescara.

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For the rest of the weekend, we enjoyed more time by the beach, more delicious pizzas and seafood, and even more gelato. We even managed to squeeze in a long 14km walk on the beach on afternoon…