Abruzzo and Molise are mountainous regions where agriculture is difficult and sheep farming dominates. Consequently, lamb tends to feature strongly in the local cuisine. You’ll come across abbacchio, unweaned baby lamb that is usually cut into chunks and roasted or grilled; arrosticini, tiny pieces of lamb skewered and flame grilled; and intingolo di castrato, lamb cooked as a casserole with tomatoes, wine, herbs, onion and celery.

In Abruzzo, a crucial ingredient is olive oil, a product that has gained international acclaim in recent years. Around Sulmona aglio rosso (red garlic) is believed by many locals to be a cure for ailments ranging from neuralgia to arthritis; around L’Aquila in particular saffron (zafferano) is also found widely in sweet and savoury dishes, grown in fields southeast of the city.

Probably Abruzzo’s most famous dish is maccheroni alla chitarra, made by pressing a sheet of pasta over a wooden frame, and usually served with a tomato or lamb sauce. Cheese tends to be pecorino – either mature and grainy like Parmesan, or still mild, soft and milky.

The wines of Molise are rarely found outside the region. The most interesting is the Biferno DOC, which can be red, white or rosato. The best-known wine of Abruzzo is Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, a heavy red made from the Montepulciano grape with up to 15 percent Sangiovese. Pecorino, a local varietal and DOC, produces a fresh and mineral white. One of Italy’s most important wine events, Cantine Aperte (Open Cellars) was born in Abruzzo and takes place the last Sunday in May. Hundreds of producers open their doors to enthusiasts for free tastings and gastronomic events (w movimentoturismovino.it).

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Italy features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The 10 most beautiful places in Italy – as voted by you

The 10 most beautiful places in Italy – as voted by you

Is there anywhere in the world as easy on the eye as Italy? From art-filled cities to heart-stopping coastlines via gorgeous landscapes, you could criss-cross t…

07 Dec 2016 • Natasha Foges camera_alt Gallery
An expert’s guide: where to stay in Venice

An expert’s guide: where to stay in Venice

Venice has been depicted and described so often that on arriving in the city you might have the slightly anticlimactic feeling that everything looks exactly as …

14 Oct 2016 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
7 highlights that make Genoa Italy’s most delicious city

7 highlights that make Genoa Italy’s most delicious city

Genoa is way off most travellers’ itineraries, but it’s time this northern Italian beauty – and its outstanding local cuisine – gets the recognition it …

10 Aug 2016 • Natasha Foges insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month