Our village nestles among rolling hills between Abruzzo’s Adriatic coast and the Apennine mountains. Covered with vineyards and olive groves, and snow-capped mountains in the background! Abruzzo truly is beautiful, and we feel blessed to live in such an area! Largely an agriculture region, it’s famous for its Montepulciano wine. And also for its long beautiful beaches, gorgeous mountains, and great cuisine.
The agricultural lifestyle keeps it off the beaten tourist path, making it mostly a wild, unspoiled region. Like the area around us with its characteristic hillside areas covered with vineyards and olive groves. Like those right outside our door! But we mostly love it because the people are among the most hospitable in Italy!
Yes, Abruzzo is beautiful. But it’s also forgotten.
It’s a poor region, in more ways than one. Economically depressed, and sometimes politically neglected. Many times even omitted from weather reports on national TV! And as one of Italy’s most tradition-bound regions it has also been largely bypassed by the Gospel, with few born again belivers.
And Italy’s highway system depicts its isolation most interestingly.
The expressways (called autostrade here) number from A1 to A32. The lower the number, the older the highway. A1, which runs pretty much up and down the Mediterranean coast, was the first.
But our Adriatic coast didn’t get its own highway until A14. Meaning of course, the east side of Italy remained more isolated and less informed. But even highway A14 didn’t make travel and interrelations a lot easier for Abruzzo. Because it didn’t get a highway connecting it to the western coast until A25. With #32 being the last, it’s among Italy’s last major highways. And this left Abruzzo pretty much to itself. Bound by tradition, superstition, and in some ways, ignorance.
But many positives have come out of Abruzzo’s isolation as well. Because, besides its glorious unspoiled nature, it’s also among Italy’s least materialistic regions. And perhaps because they had to rely more on one another, one of the most hospitable.
But it has not helped them know the liberating power of Christ.
As time and progress have largely passed them by, so has the Gospel. They are, for the most part, a deeply religious people. But with little understanding that Christ gives assurance of salvation.
That’s why we’re here, and why we stay. Because we firmly believe that, deep inside, Italy is a land of seeking hearts. We are here to reach those hearts.
Our work here largely consists of breaking through religious barriers. To show them God is not some far-off, disinterested deity. But a loving Father, longing to adopt them as his children.
Please keep our Abruzzo, beautiful but forgotten, in your prayers!
Images are my own.