In Abruzzo, the Trabocco Valle Grotte in San Vito
The trabocco - a type of traditional wooden fishing machine - has been used for centuries as a means of making a living for many generations of fishermen on the Abruzzo, Gargano and Molise coasts.
Today, this ancient fishing machine has become an icon of the Abruzzo region and, in particular, the symbol of the central-southern coast of Abruzzo, which is known as the Trabocchi Coast.
From a work tool to a piece of art
From being an efficient and successful fishing machine, essential for avoiding the open sea for fishing and minimising the risk of bad weather, the trabocco has been transformed, over time, into an architectural element capable of enhancing the aesthetic and landscape aspect of the territory in which it is anchored.
Indeed, climatic, environmental, morphological and socio-economic changes have led to a modification of the typical use of the trabocco itself.
Today we have no certainty as to when trabocchi were first designed and built. One of the earliest and oldest written documents providing information on their presence in Abruzzo dates back to 1400 AD. It is a religious work narrating the life of Pietro da Morrone, a hermit friar who lived in the monastery of San Giovanni in Venere in Fossacesia around 1240 and later became the famous Pope Celestine V.
In the text we read: “... more than the calm sea, shimmering in the late morning sun, dotted with the trabocchi placed like lookouts towards the edge of the sky, I was struck by the great Badia. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen”. This document allows us to deduce that trabocchi already existed on the Abruzzi coast in 1240. This gives an idea of the antiquity and the historical, artistic and cultural importance of the fishing machines today.
Architecture without architects
You will be amazed to know that the techniques used to build the trabocchi are the result of a construction knowledge that has never been written down, but has been handed down through word and deed, by the ancient fishermen.
The trabocchi are true works of “architecture without architects” in that their construction cannot easily be translated into calculations and rendered into drawings, but takes place on the basis of what is dictated by the professionals of the trade.
From Ortona to the rocks of Vasto
The Costa dei Trabocchi starts in the Ortona area and continues south for many kilometres to the beginning of the rocky coast of Vasto. Along the coastline you can find many examples of ancient trabocchi, now converted into characterful restaurants that impress with delicious Adriatic fish dishes.
This is the case of the marvellous Trabocco Valle Grotte at Fosso Canale in San Vito, whose history is linked to owner Peppe's dream of recapturing the spirit and experience of fishing in the past.
Together with his family, Peppe has committed himself to the rebirth of this fishing device on the sea with the same stubbornness as those men who lived generations ago. Today this charming balcony overlooking the Adriatic Sea is a cosy restaurant where the most delicious dishes of Abruzzo fish are cooked.