Termoli, Italy

Posted on July 23, 2011


For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, you know that I travel a lot for work.  All over the place.  Sometimes glamorous, but usually not too exciting at all.  The hotels tend to all look the same, the food nowhere near as good as what comes from my own stove, and the dominant theme to it all is waiting.  Waiting for the plane, waiting for a terminal to open up, waiting for morning to come, waiting for my team to finish breakfast, and waiting for my lost luggage to finally come plunging out of that mysterious series of conveyer belts.  Every once in a while though, a trip comes up that makes up for it all.

I recently was dispatched to the remote Italian town of Termoli.  It lies three hours away from Rome on the east coast.  The center of Termoli sits atop a cape reaching into the
Adriatic Sea.  The town is surrounded by a tall fortified wall which was built in the year 500 AD.  There is evidence of human habitation in the area since 500 BC.   On both sides of the cape is a beautiful beach fronting clear blue water.  It is so clear you can see down to your feet, like a swimming pool.  It is a big vacation destination for Italians, but too remote for most of the rest of the world.  In my two weeks there, I only ran into two Americans – both American women who married local Italian men.

Inside the town, the streets are small and winding and very beautiful. There is a square at the center with the church and two gelato shops.  There are many nice little shops and restaurants scattered throughout the narrow alleyways.  The small castle dates to the 11th century, consisting of a pyramid base cut off at the top with a square tower rising above.  The views from the top are awesome.


In the center of the town is the cathedral dating to the 13th century.  Inside the cathedral, parts of the floor are fashioned as windows to let you see the mosaic tile patterns from the older church that once was at the site.  The tile patterns show scenes from the bible.  It is not a very flashy cathedral, but it is majestic in an understated way.

Fishing is still an important way of life in Termoli.  This is clear once you see the harbor full of fishing boats that leave each afternoon and return loaded with fish of all types, squid, shrimp, eels, and anything else that doesn’t move out of the way fast enough.  There are also two trabucchi, strange wooden contraptions that extend from the shore out into the ocean.  The fisherman wait and watch the water.  Once they see a fish passing by, they raise the large net held by the trabucchi.  More often than not, they miss, but sometimes you see an unlucky fish hanging in the net, no doubt bewildered by this turn of events.

The food was fresh from the ocean.  Everything was delicious and delicately prepared.  When you ordered a fish, a whole grilled fish would show up at your table.  Shrimp came with tail and head.  Squid came whole swimming in a nice fish broth.  At first it was a bit much for me, but then I treasured the food and miss it now.  I am sure I will never have seafood quite as good as in Termoli unless I catch it myself.  It was almost difficult to find other types of food.  Every night we finished the meal by strolling over to our favorite gelatto shop.

Posted in: Travel