San Vito Chietino and The Costa Dei Trabocchi

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  • Where: Fly to Pescara Airport and rent a car. There are numerous hotels, campsites and B&B’s around the marina to choose from as well as accommodation in the old historic centre. San Vito is 31.4km from Pescara or 19.8km from the next biggest town of Francavilla.
  • Why: the beaches, the vista, the food and the clear crystal waters. The Adriatic coast is where Abruzzo comes for its summer holidays. 
  • When: From June to September. August is the high season with a month of festas and celebrations.

In Italy paying to sit on the beach is standard fare, for example in Tuscany expect to pay 50 Euros for the pleasure of a sun lounger. In Abruzzo however the coast is full of free beaches if you know where to look. Some of the best are local secrets but San Vito with its lively marina and exceptional collection of Trabbochi is a secret no one can keep.

San Vito is a town of two parts, there is San Vito Al Mare and San Vito Chietino. You will find this kind of living arrangement all along the coast with the old towns being up high for protection and fertile pastures. As the livelihoods moved on from agriculture so the people moved down to the coastal areas where the newer ‘Al Mare’ towns are now established. That said, San Vito Al Mare has existed as a port since pre-Roman times and the Romans themselves used it as a gateway to the Adriatic. As the port fell into disuse the town continued to thrive and in the 18th Century there is the first recorded use of the trabocchi that would become synonymous with this stretch of coast.

The trabocchi are ingeniously invented wooden fishing huts on stilts that stick out in to the ocean. The story goes that they were invented by the local farmers so that they could fish the seas during hard times on land “La fame spinge il lupo fuori dalla tana!” (hunger pushes a wolf out of his den). They are not used for fishing anymore but in their heyday they could support four or five families; these days they are used mostly as restaurants and places to inspire artists and tourists alike. There is a certain magic about eating with the view of perfect blue that cannot truly be described in words and at sun down you are transported to somewhere that feels more like the Far East than the East Coast of Italy.

San Vito Al Mare is the perfect place for a quick colazione (breakfast) and then a long languish on the beach. You can do like the locals and bring a sun umbrella then find one of the free beaches (look for storm tunnels) or you can treat yourself and pay for a sun lounger in the central sandy beach (around 20 Euros for an umbrella and two sun loungers). The nice thing about San Vito, apart from the extremely cheap parking (look for the disused railway station on the sea front), is that from the central marina it is a short stroll down to the free beaches and on these free beaches, if you are feeling active, there are companies that offer water sports such as kayaking and paddle boarding.

Free beaches in Abruzzo
Shh! its a secret (kind of!)

The further away from the central marina you go the quieter and more rocky the beaches become and also more difficult to find, keep your eyes peeled for parked cars and hidden walkways. On your travels you may also stumble across the summer home of the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, also called ‘The Hermitage of D’Annunzio’ where he worked on the novel Il trionfo della morte.

It is worth sticking around for pranzo (Lunch). The cuisine is predominately fish and seafood and the prices vary depending on where you eat. There are loads of cheap places in town and quite afew tourist traps at the marina (be warned) but for a real dining experience the Trabocchi are the ones to head for. My favourite trabocco is the Trabocco Punta Fornace  the food is fresh, the wine is local, the staff speak English and its a short walk from the marina.

Antipasti Starter
Antipasti at the Trabocco Punta Furnace

In terms of night life, I would recommend heading to the local town of Ortona where they have an arts festival during summer or going to Francavilla for a bit more of a cosmopolitan feel. You are also perfectly situated to take a day/evening trip further down the coast to the beautiful town of Vasto. There is also, for your consideration, the epically fun Aqualand del Vasto.

San Vito is the perfect stop to enjoy some serious eats and take in some serious rays. If you have your adventurous hat on, follow the SS16 coast road to Vasto stopping at the secret alcoves and trabbochi along the way . For a summer holiday that is uniquely Abruzzo and uniquely Italian, you can’t get any better.

The beach at San Vito
San Vito beach before the crowds arrive

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