Abruzzi is considered part of southern Italy and is situated along the Mediterranean coast. As with other Mediterranean regions, Abruzzi's vegetation is characterized by the presence of different Mediterranean ecosystems; the coast and the surrounding areas are remarkable for the presence of typical Mediterranean plants such as myrtle, heather and mastic, but in hilly areas, other typical Mediterranean species will also grow, including olive, pine, willow, oak, poplar, alder, arbutus, broom, acacia, capers, rosemary, hawthorn, licorice and almond trees, interspersed with oak trees.
The blending of a Mediterranean climate interspersed with mountains makes a fortuitous combination when producing the Montepulciano grape which is responsible for Abruzzi's most famous and widely exported wine, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. In addition, Abruzzi cooks are masters at turning simple ingredients (perhaps a handful of freshly plucked beans from the garden plot, gleaming black mussels, golden noodles) into glorious feasts. They flavor their dishes with hot chili pepper, aromatic saffron, and fruity olive oil. Pasta is the preferred Abruzzi first course, and none is as typical as maccheroni alla chitarra (guitar pasta): sheets of egg dough are cut using a flat rolling pin on a wooden box with strings.
The most interesting Abruzzi culinary tradition is La Panarda, a multi-course feast of enormous proportions. Legend holds that La Panarda was born when a young mother, gone to fetch water near her home, returned to find her newborn in the mouth of a wolf. Desperate, the woman prayed to Saint Anthony of Abate, and the wolf let the baby go. The grateful young mother promised to prepare a feast for Saint Anthony, starting a tradition that would be passed down from generation to generation for centuries to come. Most Panarde consist of 35 to 50 courses and last all night, thus enabling guests to partake of every dish at a leisurely pace.
Abruzzi's wealth of castles and medieval towns, especially near the town of L'Aquila, has earned it the nickname Abruzzoshire.