Pagliare di Tione degli Abruzzi is a touchingly quaint place to visit in inland Abruzzo, at the foot of the Sirente massif. The village, where time has stood still since the early 1900s, takes its name from the stone homes there, known as pagliare.
The pagliare have been in existence since the 1400s and in the past the entire community from the valley would move to them every summer in the seasonal movement known as the vertical transhumance. The reason for this was subsistence: peasants and shepherds had to cultivate mountain lands to feed their children and have pastures where their animals could graze. The plain between Pagliare di Tione and the Sirente was once entirely cultivated with lentils, beans, chickpeas, Solina wheat, spelt and potatoes.
Nowadays, the pagliare are uninhabited
Some have been renovated, including by foreigners, but they are only used for a few days at a time, often just for a barbeque. Problems include a lack of electricity, poor internet connection, and most of all the absence of water.
The cultural association “Il Melo di Nonno Dario” (Grandpa Dario’s Apple Tree), founded by Fabio Panella and his wife Jessica Ciccarone, is located at Pagliare di Tione. Dario was Fabio’s grandfather, and the apple tree was that of his pagliara home.
Although the tree produced sour fruit, he carefully pruned it, saying that “otherwise nature would have taken over.” It was a message that, like all children, Fabio didn’t understand. But now that Grandpa Dario has passed away, his grandson is the one who prunes and pulls the weeds.
In 2017 he founded Il Melo di Nonno Dario to preserve the pagliare as they were, saving them from abandonment. The association organizes artisan craft markets, trail cleanup, and tastings of products that were once made here, such as cheeses, sheep’s milk ricotta, and Solina-wheat bread.
Jessica cooks “fritta dorata” (a peasant dish of egg fried bread) and potato-lentil soup for the members. Fabio shows visitors around the pagliare, telling their history.
There are paths leading out from here for hiking, horseback riding, or cycling. One itinerary leads to other pagliare, those of Fontecchio.
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