Abruzzo’s Adriatic coast is dotted with spidery platforms with spindly arms. Looking like giant spiny lobsters or spider crabs, they sit out on the water with rickety catwalks connecting them with the coast.
Trabocchi (the plural version of Trabocco) are old fishing machines that you find along the Adriatic coast. These platforms built on stilts out in the sea have a long thin pier that connects them with the shore. The platform has poles and winches that allow them to drop in a large net, scoop up fish and raise it back out of the water. It was a safe way to fish without needing a boat. Some say the technology was brought by the ancient Phoenicians, others that it was French families in the 1600s.
These tiny platforms with wooden shacks on top and the spidery poles sticking out to hold up the nets make an interesting silhouette on this coast. They fell into disrepair after World War II, but in 1994 a law was passed to conserve these platforms that had become so iconic along this coast. Today you find a couple dozen Trabocci on the southern coast of Abruzzo in the province of Chieti, running from Francavilla al Mare, just south of Pescara, to San Salvo on the border with Molise. The Costa dei Trabocchi area is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Today the Trabocchi are privately owned, and many have been turned into restaurants.
Dinner on a Trabocco
While visiting Abruzzo in June, I experienced dinner on a Trabocco. We dined at Trabocco Punta Tufano. Our group of 30 or so journalists on this press trip arrived in the Rocco San Giovanni region and drove to the village of Vallevò on the coast. This is part of the area known as the Trabocci Coast.
Arriving, we strolled down the street, naturally drawn to the pier that would lead us out onto the Trabocco. The pier and the roof of the Trabocco were trimmed with string lights, and the water gently lapped under the pier as we entered. These are not fancy restaurants. Structurally sound, they remain rustic, and I could see the ocean between the boards under my feet.
The dinner was set to highlight the sparkling, white, and rosé of the region paired with coastal dishes. Winemakers and members of the Consorzio Tutela Vini d’Abruzzo were there to greet us.
When I took a moment and tuned out the cheerful voices of my fellow guests at the dinner, I could hear, smell and feel the sea. These restaurants are on piles that go deep into the sea bed below us, but as the water and waves move under the Trabucco, you can see the water between the boards under your feet and feel the gentle sway of the ocean. It was rhythmic and hypnotic, and had I been enjoying a romantic dinner, I would have surrendered myself to revel in this, but…there were wines to taste and discuss and people to meet…
Spumante d’Abruzzo DOC Trabocco
We began with Sparkling wines, Spumante d’Abruzzo DOC covers wines made in the Martinotti (or Italian) method from grapes indigenous to the Abruzzo region. Just a few days after our visit, they did a big launch of their collective brand Spumante d’Abruzzo DOC Trabocco, adding the name of one of the symbols of Abruzzo. The name was approved for use last July. Currently this name is authorized for use by Casal Thaulero, Citra, Eredi Legonziano and Vin.Co wineries.
We tasted the Spumante d’Abruzzo Doc Trabocco Pecorino Aureae Stealle Citra and Spumante d’Abruzzo doc Trabocco Rosé Brut Voilà Casal Thaulero this evening and I had the opportunity to taste several of the Spumante from Vin.Co a few days later at the Grand Tasting.
Dinner flowed with wine poured and a dish to pair, followed by another wine and another pairing…through all 6 dishes with additional wines to compare and contrast. The conversation was lively, the food and wines delicious, and the atmosphere was something that is not likely ever to be duplicated.
Here are the delicious wines we enjoyed
- Spumante d’Abruzzo Doc Trabocco Pecorino Aureae stealle Citra
- Spumante d’Abruzzo doc Trabocco Rosé Brut Voilà Casal Thaulero
- Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC Orsetto Oro 2022
- Abruzzo Doc Pecorino Superiore 2022 Ferzo
- Vino Spumante Método Classico Bianco Brut Fenaroli
- Trebbiano d’Abruzzo Doc Santa Clara 2022 Olivastri Tommaso
- Abruzzo Pecorino doc L’Ariosa 2022 Olivastri Tommaso
- Cerasuolo d’aBruzzo doc Marcantonio 2022 Olivastri Tommaso
Shrimp with raspberry mayonnaise (Gambero rosso con maionese di lamponi)
Stuffed mussels (cozze ripiene)
Mackerel fillet cooked at low temperature then sautéed (filetto sgombro cotto a bassa temperature e ripassato)
Mezzo pacchero with prawns (Mezzo pacchero agli scampi)
Secondo – main course
Sea bream fillet in lemon sauce with side salad (filletto di orate in salsa di Limone con insalatina)
Amaretto parfait (semifreddo ai fruitti di bosco)
Welcome to Abruzzo
As we left, the lights of the coast lit up the sea in a drowsy way, the sound of the sea sloshing beneath our feet lulling us as we moved to the end of our long day and a bit of rest.
What a brilliant introduction to beautiful Abruzzo, Italy!
This is just one small part of this amazing region. If you are headed to Italy, do yourself a favor and plan to spend part of your time in this magical region. Find a Trabocco to enjoy lunch or dinner as you sway gently with the tide, and grab a glass of Spumante d’Abruzzo DOC Trabucco!
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine and WSET 3 Certified. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.
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