Abruzzo City of Art

Abruzzo City of Art


Perched on the tops of the mountains, lost in lush valleys, cradled by gentle hills, exposed to the eternal murmur of the sea, the Abruzzo cities of art open their chests filled with treasures to the amazed eyes of travelers, open their senses to the discovery of legends and stories forgotten by time and to the contemplation of a nature that embraces the work of man in a state of perennial harmony and compensation.


The origins of ancient Chieti are confused with mythology. Located in a panoramic glimpse between the Majella massif and the placid waters of the Adriatic, the city boasts a valuable artistic and cultural tradition. Capital of the ancient Italic population of the Marruccini, it was a Roman settlement with the name of Teate, and after being destroyed and sacked by the Barbarians, it experienced the period of maximum splendor when, during the dominion of the Angevins and the Aragonese, it was recognized the right to mint their own currency. The upper part of the city preserves countless artistic, civic and historical testimonies, religious monuments and noble palaces.

To be seen: the ruins of the Roman Theater, dating back to the 2nd century AD, the complex of the Roman Temples, the Cistern of the ancient Baths; the imposing Cathedral of S. Giustino, outside which stands out the Bell Tower of the fifteenth century and inside it works of fine art; the sixteenth-century Palazzo Comunale, with a late medieval courtyard with a column above which stands a statue of Pelide, the symbol of the town; The Palace of Justice; the Palazzo Mezzanotte; Corso Marruccino with the Church of S. Francesco della Scarpa, dating back to the 13th century; De Lellis-Carusi Palace; Toppi Palace; Zambra Palace; De Sanctis-Ricciardone Palace; Majo Palace; the Civitella Museum, with historical finds from the Neolithic, Pleolithic-Italic and Roman ages, stands on the site of the ancient citadel; the National Archaeological Museum of Abruzzo, housed in Villa Frigerj with valuable Italic and Roman remains from different parts of the region including: the Warrior of Capestrano, the Bronzeto di Ercole in Risposo, three funerary steles from Penna Sant’Andrea; the large statue of Hercules at Banquet, from Alba Fucens, an admirable collection of coins from the 6th century BC. to the 19th century; the Costantino Barbella Museum, housed in a wing of the Martinetti-Bianchi Palace, which preserves a valuable heritage of statues, paintings and ceramics from the fifteenth to the twentieth century; the Diocesan Museum, rich in local medieval art and Baroque altarpieces.


The city of L’Aquila rises in the basin carved by the Aterno river between the massifs of Gran Sasso and Velino Sirente, a few steps from the perennial snows of Campo Imperatore, in an area rich in waters, which in addition to giving the incipit to the construction of the city, they also contributed to bestow the toponym. City of great artistic and historical importance, its events include moments of great political and cultural growth in eras of obscurantism, destruction and pestilence. The city was born in the twelfth century, when, after a request from the feudal lords of the nearby castles, Pope Gregory IX gave consent to the construction of a new city. Soon houses, squares, fountains and churches were built, which were destroyed by the fury of Manfredi and rebuilt after the granting of the approval of Emperor Conrad IV and the efforts of Charles of Anjou, who had the city walls built and the Basilica of S. Maria da Collemaggio, whose walls witnessed the papal ornamentation of Celestino V. In the 15th century the University was established with the humanities and scientific faculties and Adamo da Rottweil, a pupil of Gutemberg, was granted the right to beat own currency. The struggle for possession of the Kingdom of Naples and the alignment of the city alongside the French, determines for the city the beginning of a period of decline and squalor, accentuated by the raging plague, famine and the terrible earthquake of 1703 . L’Aquila actively participated in the revolutionary uprisings for the unification of Italy and in 1860, after a plebiscite, it became the regional capital. Following the earthquake of 1915 and the Fascist period, the face of the city is renewed, taking on a more modern layout with the construction of new public works.

To be seen: the Basilica of S. Maria da Collemaggio, a Romanesque style building, which houses the tomb of Celstino V, patron saint of the city; the Fontana delle 99 Cannelle, built in medieval times, in which each cinnamon represents one of the villages from which the city was born; the Cathedral of San Massimo and San Giorgio, from the 13th century, which preserves a good part of the original decoration inside; the Castle-Fortress, built by the arms of the inhabitants of the city “ad reprimendam audaciam Aquilanorum”; the fifteenth-century church of the Capoquarto di S. Giusta with the characteristic travertine facade and the splendid rose window; the majestic Palazzo Centi, an undisputed monument of nineteenth-century civil architecture; the Oratorio de Nardis, a masterpiece of Baroque art; the Monastery of Beata Antonia, with valuable frescoes that tell the story; the Capoquarto Church of S. Pietro, with its octagonal bell tower and the beautiful fountain on the square in front; the picturesque via S. Martino; the headquarter church of S. Maria Paganica, dating back to the 13th century, whose rich main portal stands out above a double flight of stairs; the eighteenth-century Palazzo Ardinghelli with a balcony at varying levels; the graceful Renaissance courtyard of Palazzo Carli-Benedetti.


Lanciano is located in a hilly area, in a panoramic position between the Majella mountains and the blue Adriatic. The city, known in ancient times by the name of Anxanum, capital of the Italic population of the Frentani, was a thriving center during the Roman era, as evidenced by the numerous archaeological finds. The ancient settlement, dating back to the twelfth century, reaches its moment of economic and civic splendor with the development of fairs in the fifteenth century. The original structure of the inhabited center is still clearly legible in the Romanesque and Gothic masterpieces, terraced houses, squares and medieval alleys and neoclassical buildings that form a unique and unrepeatable complex in civil and religious architecture. Religious tourism and the veneration of the Eucharistic miracle are important.

To be seen: the fine Art Nouveau and Deco style palaces in Viale Cappuccini; the Diocletian Bridge; S. Maria Maggiore, stands on the site of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo, preserves a beautiful rose window and graceful mullioned windows, a grandiose portal and a bell tower enriched by three-light windows, twisted columns and a lunette with a stone group of the Crucifixion, inside it preserves the processional cross by Nicola da Guradiagrele and a triptych by Girolamo Galizzi; S. Diocleziano; the 14th century Cathedral, whose facade has a forepart with a three-light portico and columns supporting a terrace and the interior in a neoclassical style, with a single nave with numerous frescoes and the main altar with a rich backdrop of jasper columns and bearing a reliquary with a terracotta statue of the Madonna; the Montanare Towers, remains of the ancient walls, in masonry and stone; the Church of S. Agostino, with a fine facade created by the mastery of Petrini bearing a portal of great artistic importance, for the twisted columns, the floral friezes and the chiaroscuro effects and the rose window enriched with acanthus leaves; POrta S. Biagio, dating back to the 11th century, the only one of the nine doors that opened in the walls to allow access to the city;la Church of S. Francesco, built in the 13th century, whose façade presents an austerity of Franciscan origin and inside which the Baroque style predominates, including the marble temple bearing the monstrance with the relic of the Eucharistic Miracle, a work of a Neapolitan artist of the fifteenth century; Fenaroli Theater, which during the Fascism was used as a cinema screening room; the monumental Fonte di Civitanova, used for water supply and for washing clothes in the homonymous neighborhood; the Torrione, a north-eastern corner tower of the ancient city walls, was renovated by the Aragonese and adapted to the use of firearms; Lamaccio Bridge; the Church of S. Biagio, with a stone facade in Romanesque style with tall and narrow windows with external stromabtura suitable for defense, the square bell tower, inside it preserves wooden statues of S. Biagio and the Madonna della Candelora, and a high-relief of the Annunciation of exquisite Lancianese workmanship; the Fonte del Borgo; the Church of S. Nicola di Bari, with its often remodeled bell tower and its eternal batesimal font in inlaid wood, a marble stoup and a precious silver case; the Church of S. Lucia, of the French Burgundian school, and the tympanum frame and the rose window of the Petrini school, and a bright interior with a neo-classical style; the Diocletian Bridge; the Church of S. Giovina in bare masonry; the Church of S. Chiara; the Piazza del Plebiscito; the Church of S. Legonziano.


The ancient city of Penne extends over the surface of four green hills, full of olive groves, between the valleys of the Tavo and Fino rivers. Founded by the Italic population of the Vestini with the name of Pinna, it became a Roman municipality in the year 89 BC, was dominated by the Lombards, assumed the title of county during the Middle Ages, was destroyed by the Caldora in the fifteenth century and once rebuilt, it was a fief of the Farnese and possession of the Bourbons.

To be seen: At the entrance to the city, the significant monument to St. Francis, the work of the sculptor Manfrini, a complex in bronze and stone high-reliefs, of great artistic importance; the monumental Porta S. Francesco, from the 18th century, with a niche dedicated to S. Massimo, patron saint of the city; a plaque commemorates the visit of S. Francesco to the town; the Church of S. Nicola, with a circular plan, with a simple portal and a predominance of the neoclassical style inside, adorned with valuable canvases; the eighteenth-century Palazzo Castiglione, with its façade with overlapping loggias, and inside a riot of highly refined rooms, paintings and furniture; the Church of S. Agostino, in Romanesque style, with a mighty bell tower in a purely Abruzzese style, inside valuable stuccoes that accentuate the Baroque style; the Palazzo del Bono-Pilotta, with a large brick facade, baroque door and a balcony with sinuous lines and interior wall paints by a local artist, dating back to the eighteenth century; the Palazzo Castiglione-De Leone, with its large portal, balconies with swollen railings and a staircase from which you enter the richly decorated interior with stuccoes and frescoes; the Cathedral, located in the highest part of the city, destroyed during World War II and recently renovated according to the original Romanesque structure, with the mighty bell tower with Byzantine sculptures, the Renaissance-style façade with stone rosette, internal king with three naves with pointed arches, pillars, stone holy water pile with figures of caryatids and cherubs, wooden crucifix and ancient altar with sculptural ornaments.


The ancient Sulmona, blissfully nestled in the hollow of the peligna basin, includes, through the streets, the buildings, the alleys and the luminous squares, a millennial past, rich in eras of unsurpassed cultural and economic splendor and an age of mere decadence, from which the city has always risen to new glory. Located in a territory that has always been crossed by merchants, brigands, warrior peoples, hermits and transhumant shepherds, Sulmona was the birthplace of the famous Latin poet Publio Ovidio Nasone, author of love poems of eternal beauty and of the “Metamorphoses”. Town Hall in Roman times, in the Middle Ages it housed an important school of goldsmithing, during the Swabian rule it obtained a chair of Canon Law and the honor of organizing one of the Kingdom’s seven annual fairs. A city rich in art and culture, Sulmona is known throughout the world for its confectionery tradition.

To be seen: the aqueduct, dating back to the thirteenth century, built during the dominion of Manfredi, located near the Piazza Maggiore, where today the historical re-enactment of the joust takes place, preserves the 21 arches in tanned stone; the fifteenth-century Fontana del Vecchio, an inimitable example of Renaissance art; the Church of S. Maria della Tomba; S. Francesco della Scarpa, destroyed by earthquakes and wars, still preserves the remains of the apse complex, a beautiful side door and a mighty bell tower – inside the baroque oragano predominates, the altarpiece of the Visitation by the Bergamo artist Paolo Olmo and the Lombardi Chapel; the monumental complex of the SS. Annunziata, synthesis of four centuries of Sulmonian history, a compendium of late-Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque style, with a splendidly slender façade with mighty columns, a graceful mullioned window, with a flourish of three-light windows and a sculpted portal; the Cathedral of S. Panfilo, in Romanesque style, preserves inside an artistic treasure of marble, fifteenth-century frescoes, a wooden crucifix, in the crypt polychrome sculpture of the Madonna with Child and an aedicule bearing the bust of S. Panfilo, patron saint of city; the baroque Church of S. Chiara with the frescoes of the fifteenth century; the Church of the Tomb, with an elegant facade embellished with a rose window and a splendid late-Gothic portal and a fifteenth-century bell; the Church of SS. Trinità, with its façade slightly set back from the street level, houses a marvelous sixteenth-century crucifix in polychrome wood; the Monument to the Fallen of World War I; the Monument to Ovid in Piazza XX Settembre, a bronze statue in honor of the great Latin poet, which rests one foot on two books, a symbol of perfect and complete cultural predominance; Porta Napoli; S. Agata Fountain; Palazzo Mazara, an example of nineteenth-century civil architecture, a workshop in perennial and brisk activity; Palazzo Tabassi, a typical late-medieval patrician residence, with a tympanum enriched with valuable decorative elements; the Maria Caniglia Municipal Theater, with its exceptional acoustics.


Located in a magnificent geographical position, between vineyards and olive groves, halfway between the Gran Sasso mountains and the Adriatic Sea, in the valley carved by the Vezzosa and Tordino rivers, the city boasts remote origins and a history of pre-Roman origins. Having lost its Italic independence, Teramo became Roman dominion and Latinized its Phoenician name Petrut in Interamnia “city between rivers”, and experienced its period of greatest splendor, with the construction of majestic works of civic and religious significance. During the Middle Ages it was part of the Duchy of Spoleto, was the Lordship of the Acquaviva, was governed by Francesco Sforza and Alfonso d’Aragona, underwent Austrian and French domination to return to the Kingdom of Naples in 1815. Teramo is still today an important cultural center and site of an important university.

To be seen: the Cathedral Cathedral of S. Maria Assunta and S. Bernardo, an example of Italian art, among the most frank, singular and composed of the region, with a square stone and brick facade, slender from the Cosmatesque-style portal and the high spire Gothic that rises above the cornice and from the bare and sober interior, the columns dating back to ancient pagan times, the Romanesque tabernacle that preserves the frontal by Nicola di Guardigrele, a splendid example of Abruzzo art, which in the thirty-five panels, narrates the story of the life of Christ; the Church of S. Agostino, dating back to the fifteenth century, preserves inside eighteenth-century paintings of Stories of the Virgin and frescoes on the vault and pendentives; the Church of the Madonna delle Grazie, preserves a wooden statue of the Madonna with Child, dating back to the fifteenth century, the work of the artist Silvestro dell’Aquila and considered miraculous; the Church of Sant’Antonio, from the 13th century, with a baroque interior; Palazzo Melatini, of medieval taste; the Cathedral of S. Maria Aprutiensis, with a baroque interior and some original cross vaults; Palazzo Savini, preserves the Roman Mosaic of the Lion in the basement; the Town Hall, with a medieval loggia; Piazza Martiri della Libertà, city center; Casa Catenacci, from the 15th century, seat of the first city theater in the 18th century; the Civic Art Gallery and Palazzo della Monica, conceived and commissioned by the artist Don Gennaro della Monica with a decadent structure, in symbiosis with the taste of the late nineteenth-century Gothic revival.


Located on the Gulf of Trabocchi, the city of Vasto tells a thousand-year history, whispered by the gentle sea breezes, by the remains of towers, churches and fortifications, of decadence and splendor. According to legend, the city was founded by Diomede, commander of the Illyrians, who gave it the name of Histon. It was an important frentana maritime colony, it reached the peak of its splendor during the imperial age and was not spared by the barbarian invasions. The Angevin domination marked the lexicon of the city and the Spanish one of the Avalos profoundly changed its face, giving it the nickname “Athens of the Abruzzi”.

To be seen: the Palazzo d’Avalos, of fourteenth-century origin, one of the most significant examples of the Abruzzese Renaissance style, surrounded by splendid gardens, houses the very rich Civic, Archaeological Museum, the Pinacoteca and the Museum of Ancient Costume; the ruins of the ancient Roman baths of the 2nd century, with spectacular mosaic flooring; the Caldoresco Castle, with cylindrical towers and three corner bulwarks; the Tower of Bassano; the Amblingh Lodge; the Arch of Porta Santa Maria; the Rossetti Theater; the Cathedral of S. Giuseppe, with its particular 14th-century facade and rose window; the Church of S. Maria Maggiore; the Church of S. Michele Arcangelo; the superb Palazzo della Penna, hidden from unattentive gazes, by the four bastions with heavily armed sentry boxes, raised, according to legend, in a single night, by a hundred devils.