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Copyright Enrico Massetti 2015
Published by Enrico Massetti
All Rights Reserved
Abruzzo holds a record: 30 per cent of its territory is protected by environmental laws.
No other region in Europe can boast as much. Not without good reason is it known as “the region of parks”, the ideal target for a naturalistic vacation.
There are three national parks, one regional park and many protected sites and nature reserves: in a region like this, it seems natural that the regional capital is called L'Aquila (‘The Eagle’).
Dominated by an imposing sixteenth-century castle (which houses the National Museum of Abruzzo), L’Aquila has splendid civic and religious monuments from the medieval and renaissance eras. On the coast of Abruzzo (which vaunts popular bathing areas) one of the most popular location is Pescara, birthplace of Gabriele D’Annunzio.
The house where he was born is now a small and evocative museum. At Chieti there is an important National Archaeological Museum, well-known for the modernity and effectiveness of its exhibitions, for which it won several prizes.
The “show piece” of the museum is the Warrior of Capestrano, a funerary statue of the sixth century B.C., found in 1934 in the province of L’Aquila. At Teramo the stunning fifteenth-century Antepedium inside the cathedral, made by Nicola da Guardiagrele, the great goldsmith of Abruzzi, should not be missed.
Abruzzo is also surprisingly rich in architectural and artistic treasures, almost as much as it is full of natural treasures and folk traditions, such as the “festival of the serpents” in Cocullo, which brings thousands of people to this tiny village on the first Sunday of May.
We shall risk a slogan for this small and charming region of the southern Adriatic: “Pay a visit, before it becomes trendy”.
Ah yes, because it is not difficult to predict the mass discovery of this land where everything still has the “flavor” of old times: from the splendid landscapes to the folk traditions, from the gastronomic attractions (fabulous cheeses, among the many other typical products) to the community life, from the hospitality of the inhabitants to the unspoiled sea, from the craftsmanship (the bells of Agnone are famous) to the quiet life in the villages of the interior. It is a genuine pleasure to visit.
The region, and in special mode the city of L'Aquila, has been devastated by an earthquake in 2009, the reconstruction work will take many years to restore the original architecture. Visit to the region is still recommended as many locations, specially on the mountains and the sea resorts have survived the earthquake without damages, and the tourist's money is needed for the local economy.
Downtown L’Aquila before the earthquake
L’Aquila is the capital of the province of Abruzzo in Italy and is located in the northern part of the province. It is a small, pleasant city that is surrounded by high mountains. The city was established by the German Emperor Frederick II in 1242. According to legend, Frederick gathered the population from 99 local villages into the one city. Each group of villagers in-turn created their own church, resulting in a city of 99 churches. Unfortunately, only a very few remain.
L’Aquila – how to Get in.
There are three main ways to reach L’Aquila. The first, is to travel by car taking the A24 (the autostrada connecting Rome and Teramo) that passes to the north of the city. L’Aquila can also be reached by other, smaller provincial highways.
The second method is by bus. There is an intercity bus (Pullman) that travels directly from the Rome Tiburtina Railway Station to the main bus terminal found at the northern end of the city. The third way is by train. The city has no airport so it is usually most convenient to fly to either the Ciampino or Fiumicino airports in Rome before traveling on to L’Aquila.
L’Aquila – How to Get around
L’Aquila is small enough that it is quite easy to walk from one end to the other.
L’Aquila – What to See
There are several attractions for travelers to visit. There are at least six churches to visit including the Duomo (the city’s main church), located on the Piazza del Duomo, and Santa di Collemaggio (located outside the city walls). The final confrontation scene in the movie Ladyhawke was filmed in this church.
Other places to see include the Museo Nazionale d’Abruzzo, which is located in the sixteenth century Castello located in the north end of the city. The castle was designed by the Spanish architect “Don Pirro Aloisio Escriva” and is one of the most impressive castles in central Italy and possibly one of the earliest types of this type constructed.
The Museo Nazionale d’Abruzzo has several different sections including paintings, Roman finds, but its most famous feature is the skeleton of a mammoth that was found in the local area.
There is also a daily market that is held each day (except Sunday) in the Piazza del Duomo. There you can find a wide variety of goods including clothing on sale by small vendors. The market is open from 08:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Fontana delle 99 Cannelle
Finally, there is the Fontana delle 99 Cannelle, which is located outside the western walls. The fountain has 99 fountains that represent the 99 churches that were originally in the city.
Restaurants in L'Aquila:
• La Cartiera del Vetojo Ristorante Strada Lago Di Vetoio, +39 0862 028260 As only the Italians can do, this restaurant combines the best of cuisine, showmanship and history in a single setting! Water visibly flowing beneath your feet, an ancient mill setting, excellent wine list, attentive and charming waiter, and exquisite gourmet cuisine - what more could one want?
• Fattoria Antica Forconia Agriturismo Via Inciampa La Notte, +39 338 499 9047 The eating experience here is what I like to call "sit and we will make you happy" You don't get a menu, food just starts coming out of the kitchen. All of the food is local with all the meats from the farm and the pastas made there as well. Your meal is six courses and everyone as good or better then the one before.
• Casetta nel Parco Strada Vicinale Dell'Aterno, 33, +39 0862 196 0837 The restaurant is just outside the city, great location. The courtesy and kindness affect positively. Little promotion of local products but with short sleeves and sheep kebabs very good.
• Il Cervo Bianco Strada Provinciale 33 Preturo, +39 327 5823792 Great pasta! 5 different types of pasta, one better than the other! More kebabs and sweet! Even the dessert (millefeuille) sooo good!
• Locanda Aquilana da Lincosta Via Antonelli, 6 | Via Sallustio 68 (per navigatore), +39 0862 204358 - +39 333 7281208 An oasis in the ruins of L'Aquila. Stuck right in the middle of where the 2009 earthquake appears to have hit hardest, it is certainly worth making a detour or searching this lovely restaurant out amongst the scaffolded, crumbing and deserted houses. Excellent home made pastas, lovely wines, charming staff and reasonable prices. They deserve your support.