Report from the frontline of the olive harvest in Italy

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Abruzzo gives you time to slow the pace a little: to try a new cheese, learn about different varieties of olive tree, wander the cobbled streets of a sleepy town or hike in the foothills of the Maiella mountain, said to have healing powers.

The coastal road, which links the city of Pescara with the picturesque towns of Ortona, Francavilla and San Vito Chietino, offers gorgeous views of the turquoise sea before leading you to more adventurous opportunities in the region’s national parks, frequented by bears and wolves and prime hunting ground for wild boar (delicious, by the way, braised in a rich tomato sauce at Agnello D’Oro restaurant in Casoli).

The beautiful hilltop towns of Casoli and Guardiagrele offer splendid vistas of the surrounding mountains, and their maze-like streets provide picturesque opportunities for wandering, sampling the local meats and cheeses, and lingering over a glass of wine or a gelato.

Combining beautiful seaside towns with opportunities for hiking and skiing, and offering the sort of real, rustic, unaffected Italian food that we try so desperately to recreate in the UK, Abruzzo is the place to reconsider what you think you know about Italy – and, perhaps, about tea too.

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