L'Aquila Tourist Attractions
SituationL'Aquila, capital of the Central Italian region of the Abruzzi and of the province of l'Aquila, lies beyond the Aterno valley, surrounded by the mighty limestone heights of the Abruzzi. It is the see of an archbishop.HistoryL'Aquila was founded about 1240 by the Hohenstaufen emperor Frederick II as a protection against the rebellious tribes of the Abruzzi. Charles I of Anjou surrounded the town with walls which are partly preserved.In the spring of 2009 an earthquake struck L'Aquila, which had a devasting effect on the community and damaged many buildings.
Cathedral of San Massimo
In the center of L'Aquila is the spacious Piazza del Duomo, on the west side of which is the cathedral of San Massimo, (originally built in the 13th century; several times destroyed by earthquakes and rebuilt). It contains (to the right of the entrance) a monumental effigy of Cardinal Agnifili (1480).
To the north of the cathedral is the little church of San Giuseppe, with the tomb of the Camponeschi family (1432) by Gualterius di Alemania (Walter of Germany).
Palace of Margaret of Parma
North of the cathedral, in Piazza del Palazzo, is the former Palace of Margaret of Parma (1573; campanile), now occupied by the Court of Appeal.
Southeast of Piazza del Palazzo is the porticoed street intersection known as the Quattro Cantoni, in the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, L'Aquila's principal street. From here Via San Bernardino leads to the church of San Bernardino (originally 1454), with a fine facade of 1527. It contains the tomb of Bernardino di Siena who died in l'Aquila in 1440.
Santa Maria di Collemaggio
From San Bernardino in L'Aquila we descend to the piazza, follow Via Fortebraccio straight ahead and continue through the Porta Bazzano to the magnificent church, formerly belonging to the Celestine order, of Santa Maria di Collemaggio, founded about 1280 by Pietro da Morrone, who was crowned here as Pope Celestine V in 1294. The church has a Baroque interior, with the Pope's Renaissance tomb (1517) and wall paintings by Ruter, a pupil of Rubens, depicting his life and deeds.
Parco del Castello
In the northeast of L'Aquila is the Parco del Castello with the beautiful Fontana Monumentale. From here there are far-ranging views of the Aterno valley and the Gran Sasso and Maiella range. On the east side of the park is the Castello, built by the Spaniards in 1534, which now houses the Museum Nazionale d'Abruzzo.
National Museum of the Abruzzi
The Museo Nazionale d'Abruzzo (National Museum of the Abruzzi), with medieval and modern art as well as arts and crafts and paintings and sculpture from churches in the Abruzzi region. Particularly notable is its collection of Abruzzi majolica (17th-18th century) from Castelli.
Address: Via Benedetto Croce 1, I-67100 L'Aquila, Italy
Opening hours: 8:30am-7:30pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €4.00, Youth 25 & under €2.00, Child 18 & under FREE
Fountain of the 99 Pipes
At the foot of the hill on the west side of L'Aquila, near the station and the Porta Rivera, is the Fontana delle 99 Cannelle (Fountain of the 99 Pipes; 1272), with sides of red and white marble, from which the water spouts through 99 different masks (male and female heads).
The surroundings of L'Aquila include the remains of the ancient city of Amiternum and Avezzano.
North of L'Aquila are the remains of the ancient city of Amiternum, which was first occupied by the Sabines and later by the Romans, with remains of a theater, an amphitheater and baths.
Gran Sasso d'Italia
The route to the Gran Sasso d'Italia first passes the cemetery, with the convent church of Santa Maria del Soccorso, and then continues via the village of Assergi (church of Santa Maria Assunta, with a fine Gothic rose window), on the southwest slopes of the Gran Sasso group, to Fonte Cerreto (1,105m/3,547ft), starting point of the cableway to the Gran Sasso d'Italia (3,240m/3,545yd long; 16minutes). A panoramic road (27km/17mi) leads to the upper station of the cableway (2,130m/7,029ft), on the western edge of the Campo Imperatore (1,600-2,200m/5,280-7,260ft; Albergo Campo Imperatore), a high valley 20km/12mi long and up to 5km/3mi wide which is an excellent walking and climbing center and a popular winter sports area. Near the cableway station are the modern chapel of the Madonna della Neve and an observatory. 45minutes' climb above the hotel, on the Portelle ridge, is the Rifugio Duca degli Abruzzi (2,301m/7,587ft; views) from which it is another 3.5-4 hours climb to the Corno Grande or Monte Corno (2,912m/9,610ft), the highest peak in the Gran Sasso d'Italia, the most elevated mountain range in the Italian peninsula, with sheer rock walls like those of the Calcareous Alps (road tunnel). From the summit there are views extending over the whole of Central Italy to the Adriatic in the east and over the Sabine hills, and on clear days as far as the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west.
A worth-while trip is from L'Aquila to Avezzano. The road winds up the northeast slopes of Monte d'Orce (2,206m/7,280ft), with many bends and fine retrospective views, and continues through the wide high valley between Monte Velino on the right and Monte Sirente on the left, with a number of villages which are popular summer and winter resorts. It then winds its way downhill, with attractive views of the little town of Celano (800m/2,640ft), with the ruins of an old church and a castle (Castello Piccolomini), and the wide Fucino basin. In the western part of the Fucino basin, formerly a lake which was drained in 1875, lies Avezzano (698m/2,291ft; pop. 35,000). The town was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1915 which claimed 30,000 lives. After being rebuilt it was again damaged in the Second World War. Worth a visit are the local museum and the museum of rural culture. Note also the gateway to Orsini castle, built in 1490 by Virgilio Orsini and restored after the earthquake.
An interesting excursion can be made to Albe (7km/4mi north), with the remains of the strongly fortified town of Alba Fucens (massive walls, baths, an amphitheater and a basilica) and an 11th century Romanesque church built into a temple of Apollo. From Celano an excursion can be made to a wild gorge, the Gole di Celano by taking the Sulmona road south for 1.5km/1mi or to the Abruzzi National Park, then by a footpath on the left (15 minutes).
SituationSulmona lies in a fertile valley between the Gran Sasso massif to the north and the Maiella group, with the Morrone hills in the foreground, to the east. It was the Roman Sulmo, birthplace of Ovid, who was much attached to his "cool home country, abounding in water". Sulmona is the see of an archbishop.
Cathedral of San Panfilo
At the north end of Sulmona stands the cathedral of San Panfilo, with a Romanesque crypt and a Gothic doorway.
From the cathedral of San Panfilo, Viale Roosevelt and the Corso Ovidio, Sulmona's principal street lead to the 15th century Palazzo dell'Annunziata, which has a Gothic doorway and Renaissance elements. The church, founded in 1320 was rebuilt in 1710 after earthquake damage. The palace houses the Museo Civico which contains a 15th century wooden tabernacle painted by Giovanni da Sulmona. Farther along the Corso Ovidio is a Romanesque doorway, all that remains of the church of San Francesco della Scarpa, destroyed by an earthquake. Opposite is a beautiful Renaissance fountain (1474), fed by an aqueduct constructed in 1256, with 21 arches still standing. It is an interesting example of medieval constructional techniques.
From Sulmona to Pescara
There are alternative routes from Sulmona to Pescara: either down the Pescara valley via Popoli (pop. 5,000; castle of the counts of Cantelmi), with a detour to the abbey of San Clemente a Casauria, founded by the Emperor Ludwig II in 871 (12th century church; museum); or along the lower slopes of the Maiella group (Monte Amaro, 2,795m/9,224ft) via Campo di Giove (1,064m/3,511ft; from here ascent of Monte Amaro, 10-12 hours) and Caramanico Terme (sulfur springs; ascent to Monte Amaro, 6-9 hours) and thereafter down into the Pescara valley.
From Sulmona to Villetta Barrea
There is a very fine drive from Sulmona through the wild Sagittario gorge and the rocky gateway of La Foce to Scanno (1,050m/3,465ft; pop. 3,000), a delightfully situated hill village (traditional costumes), and from there past the Fonti di Pantano and down the Sangro valley to Velletta Barrea, a village at the west end of the Lago di Barrea, an artificial lake 5km/3mi long (entrance to Abruzzi National Park).
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