By Yael in Pescara
Although L'Aquila is the administrative capital of the region, Pescara is the tourist and shopping capital of Abruzzo. It is a medium sized, busy coastal city served by Abruzzo airport, which is conveniently located 10 minutes drive from the city centre. Just south of central Italy, Pescara is a nice blend of southern and northern Italy.
Pescara is also on the edge of the Abruzzo National Park, the largest in Italy, and only an hour's drive from the Maiella mountain range, which offers excellent skiing facilities in the winter months.
On the whole Pescara is a modern, somewhat industrial looking city. The river Pescara cuts the city in half, on one side the modern city with its two main shopping streets selling many famous Italian designer names and on the other the small but bustling (in the summer) old town with its many bars and restaurants.
The city has recently undergone extensive redevelopment and many of its squares and parks have now been given a much-needed facelift.
The sea and beach are the focus of life in the summer months. A plethora of beach clubs lines the coast and, although not the most beautiful stretch of coastline in Italy, the shallow calm waters are a haven for children.
The climate is mild all year round and although temperatures in summer reach well into the 30s, a cooling sea breeze stops things getting too hot. Windows can be left open on most days during the winter as the temperature rarely falls below zero.
Property prices in the region have risen sharply over the last few years, the cost of premium properties in the centre of the city rivals that of any major European city but bargains can still be found out of town in the surrounding villages and countryside.
There are relatively few English speakers compared with say Milan or Rome. Most officials wont speak English (even if they can!) so you'll need either a basic grasp of the language or someone with you to help.
Employment options for those who don't speak Italian are limited to teaching English in schools or as a private tutor.
Useful information and addresses
Abruzzo Airport Via Tiburtina tel. 085 4311 962/085 4 324 200
Ryan Air operates daily flights to Stansted (UK) and Frankfurt. There is also a weekly flight to Toronto. There are a number of daily domestic flights. www.ryanair.co.uk
ASL Via Rieti Tel. 085 4 251
Services offered include registering with a GP, blood tests, dentistry and other specialist treatments such as dermatology. Open daily from 8am, arrive early get a numbered ticket and wait to book your appointment or pay for treatment. To apply for a sanitary card you'll need a pds.
Spirito Santo Hospital Via Fonte Romana Tel. 085 4 251
Accident and Emergency (Pronto Soccorso) and all other services (apart from Maternity) located in the new hospital. Warning Pronto Soccorso is not free and charges depend on the severity of your condition.
Comune P.za Duca D'Aosta Corso Vittorio Emanuele tel. 085 42 831
For all residency related matters and payment of some local taxes e.g. garbage tax. For Codice Fiscale applications visit the Agenzia delle Entrate across the road, open daily until 1pm.
Questura Via Pesaro tel. 085 20 571
Opening days vary depending on type of pds required. Visit the relatively pleasant public relations office for full details.
Arrive early for your pds application as doors open at 9am but there will already be a large queue. Generally this office is unorganised and chaotic to say the least. Service is appalling, staff only speak Italian and do so rudely. If you can take a native speaker along you will be well advised to do so.
Centro per l'impiego Via Passo Lanciano
The local office of the Italian employment service. This huge building contains an impressive modern suite of offices devoted to finding work for the masses. Not surprisingly they have very little to offer non-Italian speakers - or Italians for that matter.
Eating and Drinking
The old town and seafront are the places to head for. You can eat well cheaply or blow the budget at one of the great fish restaurants. Other than fish, local specialities include arrosticini, charcoal grilled cubed lamb on skewers, and chitarra, very thin egg pasta made on the strings of a guitar hence the name.
There are at least 20 bars in the old town: most are much of muchness. During the summer their tables spill out onto the cobbled streets and it is a great place to sit and people watch.
Pizza restaurants are the mainstay of the seafront with one or two outstanding fish places and a couple of Chinese restaurants.
Pinguino Corso Manthone,36 Tel. 085 62869
For pizza lovers apparently the best pizza in Pescara. Menu also features pasta and main courses. One of the cheapest places to eat in the old town. They also do home deliveries.
Vini e Oli Via Corfinio
Good atmosphere with reasonably priced food and drinks. Open all year round.
Piano Terra Via Corfinio/Corso Manthone
Comfy wicker chairs and tables outside, a slightly upmarket bar with a good cocktail menu. Closed at the time of writing but normally open all year round.
Camplone Corso Umberto
In a great spot with tables outside, this bar has reputedly the best gelato in Pescara, although word has it quality has fallen in the past few years. Still all gelato is good and the uniformed waiters are friendly and helpful.
Trieste Lungomare Matteotti
Plastic tables and surly service but famous for their pizzetta (mini pizza), eat it while it's hot and you'll understand why Pescarese only eat pizzetta here.
Vittorio Lungomare Matteotti
Mind blowing fish dishes with equally mind blowing prices, expect to pay in excess of 80 euros for lunch for two without wine.
You'll find all the usual names in the city centre, Coin, Benetton and Euronics to name a few. Miss Sixty jeans are produced locally so feature heavily in the shops. A new out of town shopping centre has just been built in nearby Chieti, particularly exciting as it includes a large Zara store (sorry if this is meaningless to non-Europeans).
Local shops and some chains close for the afternoon from 1pm to 4.30pm, as do the post offices. Banks are open until lunchtime and then for an hour from 2.15pm.
Huge hypermarkets Auchan and Ipercoop can be found in nearby Sambuceto and are open from 9 to 9 daily. Fai da Te stores in the form of OBI and Castorama are nearby and operate the same hours.
There is very little you can not get here. The Chinese supermarket next to the train station has a good selection of Chinese, Indian and other international products. Auchan sells salty butter, Cheddar cheese and Mexican foods. Surprisingly, discount supermarket Lidl (Montesilvano or Pescara Colle) is where you'll find English produce that you can't get elsewhere: Jaffa Cakes, After Eights, cottage cheese and Sugar Puffs!
Most bookstores in Pescara have a small range of books in English. You'll find the best selection in the bookshop at the train station. You can also get English/American newspapers and magazines from the station kiosk.