People who’ve visited Italy often rhapsodize about how warm and welcoming are the Italian people. I’ve had that experience, too, but not always in my little town.
I think it’s often true in the major cities and resorts, where livelihoods depend upon tourism and the more outgoing souls will break into O Sole Mio right there on the cobblestones to prove how glad they are to see you. Not so much in regions like Abruzzo*, where folks are just living their lives far from the madding and maddening.
In my neck of the Abruzzese woods, folks often still look at me as if I’m an errant Flying Elvis newly parachuted into the town fountain. They’re not exactly hostile. More perplexed, I’d say, and possibly wary.
Ironically, that goes, at least in part, to the allure of Abruzzo. We Americans haven’t laid siege to it yet, either as home buyers or tourists. (In fact, I have yet to meet even a single American here.) The good news is that Abruzzo is off the beaten path, so is still truly authentic Italy, sans gelato chains, the golden arches, and English-speaking concierges. The bad news is that it’s off the beaten path, so is not easy for those (including American friends) visiting popular tourism spots to drop by en route from somewhere to anotherwhere.
The Abruzzo region is a picturesque one, dotted with Medieval hill towns which, come sundown, are bathed in topaz light. It’s also a naturally beautiful one, home to three national parks which together comprise the greatest swath of protected land in Italy. (My property backs on to a part of one). A long and narrow and mountainous slice of Italy bound by the Adriatic on the East, Abruzzo has another advantage in that, wherever you are in the region, you’re at or close to both mountain and seaside.
My town, Fossacesia, sits right on the coast — two-plus hours from Rome, three-plus from Fiumicino. There’s an airport in Pescara, a port city about 50 minutes north, into which RyanAir flies direct from London Stansted, so I occasionally hear an English accent, more often when I happen to be in Pescara.