Abruzzo is a rugged region due east of Rome. With a (human) population about one-third that of Rome, Abruzzo has a high concentration of livestock, particularly sheep. The province of L’Aquila is the largest in the region. It occupies the westernmost part of the landmass home to the highest of the Apennine Mountains.
L’Aquila is famed for its saffron production. Thanks to the saffron trade, L’Aquilia became a beautiful and rich city in the 14th and 15th centuries, able to support a university and build monuments, churches, and hospitals.
L’Aquila suffered from an earthquake in 2009 which killed over 300 people and left some 65,000 homeless. Many of its most beautiful sites, including the Basilica di Santa Maria di Collemaggio, remain closed to this day.
L’Aquila has several delightful dining options. Two simple trattorie, Elodia and Salette Aquilane, are my favorites. Both are perfect expressions of the local flavor, and are run by families whose lifeblood is their love for the restaurants.
A half hour drive west from L’Aquila will bring you to what many consider the best Roman restaurant in Italy, L’Angolo d’Abruzzo in Carsoli. There, foraging reigns supreme with ovoli and porcini in season, game and lamb almost year round, and a cellar that can hold its own against many fancy city restaurants. Even the desserts are wonderful… dinner is worth the trip alone.