Our next stop was to spend a few days in Sulmona, a small town in the Abruzzi region just a couple hours east of Rome. This was a place that my dad and I visited about ten years ago and one that has special significance to our family, as it is the home of Campo 78 Prigioneri di Guerra.
After he was captured by the Italians in 1941 near Benghazi, my dad was held in Campo 78 for twenty-seven months as a prisoner of war. On Sept 8th,1943, three thousand P.O.W’s escaped from the unguarded camp when news spread that the Germans and Allies were advancing into Italy. Many of the escapees were eventually recaptured by the Germans, but my dad was able to hide for eight months in the Apennine mountains before he was rescued and returned home to England.
Campo PG 78 is now completely locked up and covered in “Military Property- Keep out signs” so although it’s not possible to get inside we were able to walk around outside, take photos and look through gaps in the wall.
We really loved Sulmona, this felt to us like REAL Italy. It is an ancient town, famed as the birthplace of Ovid and also as the production center of Italian Bomboniere (those colorful sugar covered Jordan almonds they have at weddings). Lela was thrilled, as she has a soft spot for shiny silver sugared almonds ever since she went to Nik and Trems wedding in Cyprus.
We found a great place to stay (www.seistelle.com ) and as we were overlooking the main square we could watch the hustle and bustle of town life from our window. A minutes walk from our apartment took us to a coffee shop (1 euro for a cappuccino) a wine merchants (2.50 euros for a bottle of local red) and a guy roasting fresh chestnuts under our balcony (2 euros for ten) Lela and Jule even had bedrooms with an ancient Roman viaduct running right through the walls!
This wouldn’t be a Jacobs blog posting without the mention of a good meal, and we had one of the best yet at La Cantina Di Biffi, http://www.cantinadibiffi.it As our visit hit the “low season” we had the restaurant all to ourselves, and our host bought us never ending samples of the menu highlights, complete with a dazzling array of local aperitifs, wine and Italian Brandy. The whole place was family run and the restaurants “open plan” design meant that as we enjoyed our meal we could watch the owners mum cooking up a storm in the back. All the food was amazing but her wild boar goulash was a hands down favorite.
Saturday morning and we could not ignore the local market, mainly due to the bangs and crashes of stall holders setting up outside out window around 6 am. We got plenty of goodies but the highlight had to be an amazing 3 euro lemon yellow jacket for Jule