We left this morning for Vasto, a fishing community of 40,000 people about 45 minutes northeast of Carunchio. Guided by our host’s father, who gave us an oral history of the region, we learned that the area is known for its white asparagus and olive oil. The scenic drive to the coast left Jessie and I green as ever, holding on for dear life in the back seat of that tiny European car. But we found a farmacia, procured some “travel gum” for the ride back and rejoined our group for a quick tour.
The “Sacra Spina”
Our host, Massimo, pointed out the more important historical symbols around town, including the Santa Maria Cathedral. The church is a ripe twelve centuries old and most famous for hosting the “sacra spina,” one precious thorn from the crown Jesus once wore. The 2-inch spike is encased in an ornate tabernacle, where worshipers come from all over to get a close look.
After checking out the church, we explored the town’s main street and made out with some sweet leather goods. (Gorgeous Italian leather purse for the win.) Then, we traveled about a mile up the coast to take part in an amazing seafood extravaganza. Seriously. I wanted to shake hands with each of the shellfish that made an appearance today.
We traversed a long pier to make our way to a 200-year-old trabocco above the Adriatic Sea. There are only 19 of these “fishing houses” in Italy, we’re told, and we watched expectantly as a large fishing net was lowered into the sea, prepped to catch the next meal. See for yourself.
A couple of fishmongers cleaned a still-wiggling octopus right before our eyes before we were regaled with a lunch of octopus salad, stuffed black mussels, fish cake, spaghetti with clams and a platter of fresh prawns, cod, anchovies and calamari.
That was the part where I gave thanks to God for sparing shellfish from the long list of food allergies I was saddled with from birth. Absolute bliss.
A long nap later and it was time to eat again! Dinner and photos of dinner:
- Tomato stuffed with barley and cheese atop a green pea puree
- Pollo a la cacciatore, or chicken cacciatore, served with eggplant, fennel, peppers, onion and potatoes
- Vanilla custard cream housed in a filo dough and complimented with a Sambuca whipped cream and freshly pureed strawberry sauce