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Welcome  In Abruzzo

The Abruzzo region is still relatively unknown compared to most regions in Italy. And that is strange, because there is an enormous wealth in the field of nature, history, art, culture and religion!  

In In Abruzzo  I try to contribute to the emergence of this beautiful region from that obscurity. I do that by on this website, on social media ( Facebook  , Instagram and Twitter ) and to write about Abruzzo in the (first Dutch-language) travel guide  about all that beauty that can be found there.


On the Articles and blogs page you can read a large part of my stories.  

Read below how I ended up in Abruzzo and why I keep returning there.

Ingrid Paardekooper

Abruzzo | Abruzzo | information | places of interest | art | culture | religion 

How it came to be

In the summer of 2011, I drove in one day from Padula, a village in the Cilento below Naples, to Grenoble in the French Alps. In the Cilento I had hiked for a week with a local hiking organization. A great week of walking, eating,  talking and laughing with Italians and a week in which I got to see a lot of the region. Padula is known for two things: it is the hometown of Joe Petrosino, an Italian expatriate who pioneered the fight against organized crime with the New York Police Department, and in Padula is the Certosa di Padula, a large Carthusian monastery, a of the most important in the world that  is now on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Now in the course of my life I have had a few big  interests developed. I like walking, I love Italy in all its facets and I have a special interest in monasteries and monastics, their way of life, history, architecture, etc. Just before that summer in 2011, I had just decided not to go into an invitation from a sister of mine to visit  her holiday address near Grenoble, but to take my usual way via Germany, even though it is near Grenoble  the mother monastery of the Carthusian Order. But when I saw that impressive monastery in Padula, I knew it was no coincidence: now I had to go to Grenoble, to see La Grande Chartreuse there, hidden in the French Alps.  (of which a Dutchman is the abbot general, seen in a beautiful episode of the monastery series by Leo Fijen). That had to be  I now see up close.


And so I drove from Padula to Grenoble on July 30, 2011. Along the way I had a lot of time for reflection and I was already thinking about a next holiday in Italy. 'How nice it would be to do a walking holiday along monasteries in Italy', I thought. "But what if I can't find a trip like that?" was the next thought. And that's where my dream started. Because if there are no such trips, I can of course organize them myself!

Everything seemed to come together in that moment. Hiking, my interest in monasteries and monastic tradition, my Catholic background, my background as a teacher of classical languages with extensive experience in organizing travel, my great love for Italy. I would combine all that in organizing monastery walks in Italy.


I call that dream my  “Ithaka” , after the poem by Cavafy (see opposite):  maybe I would never reach my goal, but the journey there would be  become beautiful.


In 2012, I had the opportunity to go to Italy for a few weeks outside the holiday season. I then chose the Abruzzo because that region  has a rich monastic tradition, you look beautiful  can walk  and because it is still relatively undiscovered. I participated in bio-agriturismo  La Porta dei Parchi (a farm-cum-hotel-restaurant, with 1250 sheep and 500 goats and many more species of animals),  picked olives there, helped in the kitchen where completely according to the philosophy of Slow  food  They only cook with local products, work in the vegetable garden and walk through the mountains with 500 goats, 10 dogs and a shepherd. In those few weeks I learned a lot about the history, art and culture of the Abruzzo region and especially about the people who live and work there and their motivations. In that short time I have lost my heart to the region and since then I spend almost all my holidays there. From my permanent place in Anversa degli Abruzzi I travel throughout the region, in search of new discoveries. I visit picturesque towns, beautiful nature reserves, secluded hermitages and above all, I meet wonderful people.

The better I got to know the region in recent years, the more surprised I was that there was no Dutch travel guide for it: there is so much to see and so much to tell! And so  I started writing about Abruzzo. First on Facebook page  and  then the articles and  blog on this site. In June 2016 gave  Publisher Edicola entrusted me to write and publish that first Dutch travel guide about Abruzzo. In May 2017, Abruzzo, the green heart of Italy came  from. 

With my writing I hope to raise awareness of the Abruzzo region, especially when it comes to the beauty of nature, art, culture and history.

And the great thing is: Ithaka is now very close!  In May  2021  will I for Labrys Reizen (already postponed once due to Covid19)  eight-day journey through Abruzzo, past 'Churches, monasteries and hermits'! See here for more details: Churches, Monasteries and Hermits


If you accept the journey to Ithaka
wish the road may be long,
full of adventures, full of experiences.
The Cyclops and the Laistrygonians,
you need not fear the furious Poseidon,
them you will not meet on your way
when your mind stays high, and refined
the emotion that touches your heart and body.
The Cyclops and the Laistrygonians,
you will not meet the enraged Poseidon
when you don't carry them in your own mind,
when your mind does not shape them for you.

Wish the road may be long.
That there will be many summer mornings
on which you, with great joy and delight
shalt enter into unknown ports,
plastering in Phoenician trading towns
to buy attractive things there
of mother-of-pearl, coral, amber and ebony,
also exciting fragrances of all kinds,
exciting fragrances as much as you can get;
that you will visit many cities in Egypt
to learn much, very much from the wise.

Always keep Ithaca in mind.
Your goal is to get there.
But do not rush your journey under any circumstances.
It is better that it lasts many years,
so that as an old man you only reach the island
casts anchor, rich in what you acquired along the way,
without hoping that Ithaka will give you riches.
Ithaka gave you the beautiful journey.
Had it not been there, you would never have left
it has nothing more to offer you.

And if you find it a bit poor, Ithaka did not deceive you.
Having become so wise, with so much experience, you will already
have understood what Ithakas mean.



KP Cavafy

translated from Greek: Hans Warren and Mario Molengraaf, Poems, Amsterdam 1991, p. 25.

Anversa degli Abruzzi
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