So ancient that its origins can be mistaken for Mythology, Chieti, once the capital of the Italic Marrucini people and later a Roman city with the name of Teate, enjoys a magnificent panoramic position that must have fascinated people even in ancient times. Today it is an open-air museum of unparalleled charm waiting to be discovered!
Ready for a journey through history and artistic testimonies? Your visit can begin by passing through Porta Pescara, the only survivor of the eight gates that opened in the city's perimeter walls. Built under the Angevins in the second half of the 13th century, it consists of a Gothic arch typical of the 13th century with Angevin elements, and a second, more monumental gate built with the enlargement of the Santa Maria district in the 18th century and defined by a round arch. The city, which was an important Roman municipium in the 1st century B.C., still magnificently preserves its signs.
Continue your tour of discovery of Roman Chieti, starting with the Tempietti Romani, Chieti's oldest place of worship, the sacred centre from the 2nd century B.C. located on the acropolis of Civitella, consisting of three temples erected on a high podium, with central steps, and in whose chambers and crypts sculptural fragments, busts, tombstones, inscriptions and coins have been found. Compulsory stops not far away are the remains of the Roman Theatre dating from the second half of the 2nd century AD, and the cistern of the ancient Baths. One last piece to conclude this fascinating picture of ancient Teate: the archaeological area of the Civitella, the site of the Roman amphitheatre next to which a museum tells the story of the city and its transformations over time through Neolithic, Italic Palaeolithic and Roman artefacts and scenic reconstructions.
If you are already enraptured by the beauty of this city, treat yourself to a taste of the area's food and wine culture. A good plate of maccheroni alla chitarra seasoned with a mixed meat sauce of beef, pork or lamb and some typical Abruzzo baked Fiadoni, all washed down with a good glass of wine from the Terre di Chieti.
With the right energy, it is time to get to know the extraordinary beauties concentrated in its elegant and welcoming historic centre:
- the imposing Cathedral of San Giustino characterised by a soaring bell tower from 1337, adorned with ogival mullioned windows with two lights, the work of Bartolomeo Di Giacomo. Inside, you can admire notable works of art, including a 16th century Adoration of the Magi by the Flemish school.
- the 16th century Palazzo del Comune (City Hall) with its late-medieval courtyard with a column supporting the statue of Achilles (symbol of the city of Chieti)
- the Palazzo di Giustizia (Justice Palace) and the Mezzanotte Palace;
- Corso Marrucino with the 13th century Church of San Francesco della Scarpa, one of the oldest in the city, built in 1239 in Gothic style on the remains of an ancient chapel and undergoing numerous transformations over the centuries until it acquired its Baroque appearance in the second half of the 17th century. A magnificent two-flight staircase, built to a design by Tommaso Scaraviglia at the end of the 19th century, leads to the stone portal, surmounted by a beautiful 14th century Gothic rose window.
- Palazzo Majo, a monumental building among the best examples of Baroque architecture in the Abruzzo region.
- Villa Frigerj, in the gardens of the Villa Comunale, home to the National Archaeological Museum of Abruzzo where valuable Italic and Roman artefacts from different parts of the region are exhibited, including the Capestrano Warrior (6th cent. B.C.), an icon symbolising Abruzzo and its identity, the bronze statuette of Hercules at rest (3rd cent. B.C.) found near Sulmona, the three funerary stelae (5th century B.C.) from Penna Sant'Andrea, the large statue of Hercules at banquet (1st century B.C.) from Alba Fucens, and an almost unique collection of coins ranging from the 6th century B.C. to the 19th century.
- the Costantino Barbella Museum (19th century Theatine sculptor) in a wing of the 17th century Palazzo Martinetti-Bianchi, with a collection of paintings, sculptures and ceramics ranging from the 1400s to the 1900s.
- the University Museum, located in the 'Arnaldo Mussolini' Palace, houses a collection embracing different branches of knowledge, from palaeontology to the history of medicine, anthropology, natural sciences and art.
If you love getting to know religious traditions in depth, you cannot miss the Good Friday procession, a sacred procession that, illuminated by torches lit on wrought-iron tripods, winds its way at sunset from the Cathedral of St. Justine through the main streets of the historic centre. Considered to be among the oldest in Italy, it is certainly also among the most evocative.
What else to see:
- The Diocesan Museum, rich in examples of Abruzzo medieval statuary and Baroque altarpieces Palazzo De Lellis-Carusi
- Toppi Palace
- Zambra Palace
- De Sanctis-Ricciardone Palace