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Arab phoenix of Abruzzo, wonderful city of art and cradle of the Sabines


09 maggio 2023

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6 min

  • Città d’arte
  • Comuni d’Abruzzo
  • Mountain resorts
Fotografia di Matteo Ciommi


Descrizione lunga

Home of artists, saints, kings, queens and daring knights, a womb of sanctity, a treasure chest of art, the history of L'Aquila is about a city always projected toward the future and never surrendering. A millennial history told by the chronicler Buccio di Ranallo, who, in his Chronicles of the 14th century tells about the assault, in 1259, by Manfredi on the City that arose between 1253 and 1254 at thanks to Conrad IV, on the unification of the counties of Amiternum and Forconium
Surrounded by the Gran Sasso and Sirente Velino mountains, at the center of a large basin crossed by the Aterno River, the Abruzzo's capital will surprise you with artistic and cultural vibrancy and the presence of some of the most monumental churches in Italy. 

Let’s start our walk by crossing Porta Napoli, one of the main entrances into the historic centre, the most imposing of the city gates, built in 1820 using the remains of the demolished church of San Lorenzo de' Porcinari. The first emblematic monument you see is the Palazzo delle Emiciclo, located behind the Villa Comunale, which takes its name from the neoclassical exedra that characterizes the entrance. Seat of the Abruzzo Regional Council, it was built in 1888 by architect Carlo Waldis on the foundations of a 17th century church later flanked by a monastery. 

Continuing to Corso Federico II you will be catapulted into the magnificence of Piazza Duomo, the city's good living room from which the historic alleys branch off. It is here that you will be able to admire an undisputed masterpiece of eighteenth-century L'Aquila: the Church of the Anime Sante or Santa Maria del Suffragio, dating back to the 18th AD, with its rich pictorial and sculptural repertoire. The imposing façade of the Cathedral of Saints Maximus and George, now under reconstruction, contributes substantially to the scenic composition of this important metropolitan space.

Going back to Corso Vittorio Emanuele, which longitudinally crosses the historic center, flanked for a long stretch by the famous porticoes, you reach the Fontana Luminosa. Two nudes of women supporting an Abruzzese "conca," created in 1934 by sculptor Nicola D'Antino and so named for the evocative appearance in the evening and night hours, thanks to a magical game of lights and water. A few steps away, surrounded by a verdant park, the Spanish Fort, a very special example of 16th century military architecture, now undergoing a complex restoration, offers a fascinating and imposing presence. Inside, in the halls of the East Bastion, you can admire with enchanted eyes the majestic guardian of the castle: the almost intact skeleton of an Elephas Meridionalis Nesti, known as Mammoth, found in March 1954 in the Conca dell'Aquila. Skirting the outside of the moat, it will be impossible not to notice the colorful Park Auditorium, a venue for city cultural activities built and donated to the city of L'Aquila by architect Renzo Piano after the earthquake in 2012.

This city surrounded by a backdrop of natural beauty is dense with history and artistic and spiritual testimonies, the highest representative expression of which is the Basilica of St. Mary of Collemaggio. It is located just outside the town, built in the 13th 14th centuries AD on the site of an earlier building dedicated to St. Mary of the Assumption, an object of veneration due to the presence of an image of the Madonna, believed to be miraculous. Each year the Basilica is the site of the Perdonanza Celestiniana. This solemn Rite, recognized in 2019 as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, allows people to pass through the Holy Door of the Basilica, to receive a plenary indulgence, as it was desired by Pope Celestine V.

A precious treasure chest of a combination of different styles resulting from construction phases and restorations to which it has been subjected over the centuries, it is characterized by an extraordinary facade entirely clad in pink and white local stone, set in a geometric play that recalls the Fountain of the 99 Spouts. The fountain, also known as the Fountain of the Rivera, erected to the design of architect Tancredi da Pentima in 1272, is a historic monument of L'Aquila, located in one of the oldest areas its name derives from the number of water jets that start from stone masks, all different from each other, and simple spouts.
If your desire for magnificence has not yet been completely fulfilled, all you have to do is visiting the Basilica of San Bernardino, a monumental complex that ranks among the most important architectural works created during the second half of the 15th century. Representing the richness of the Baroque style is the entire interior of the building with the entire nave covered by a marvelous carved, gilded and painted wooden ceiling (1724-26).
Continue now to MuNDA and MAXXI, to fully enjoy the art that this city can offer you. The first is the Museo Nazionale d'Abruzzo, which houses a selection of artistic works ranging from the Middle Ages to the Modern Age. The second is an extraordinary combination of contemporary art and history in one of the city's most important buildings, a Baroque jewel: Palazzo Ardinghelli

By contrast, more ancient history is enshrined not far from the city centre in the archaeological sites of Amiternum, Peltuinum, Aveia and the Necropolis of Fossa, evidence of the presence of important Italic and Roman centres in the L'Aquila basin.
After having enjoyed plenty of art and culture, if you need a break in the countryside, we suggest a visit to the Parco del Sole, a place where there is a marvelous open-air theater set in the green and built inspired by the colors and patterns of the floor and from the facade of the Basilica of Collemaggio. A work of art designed by internationally renowned artist and author of monumental works and land art, Beverly Pepper.
The area's traditional cuisine is known for its legume-based recipes. Their plantation, especially lentils, is already mentioned in monastic documents prior to the year 1000.

An extraordinary regional excellence is the fragrant saffron of L'Aquila PDO, considered the red gold of Abruzzo. If you love strong flavours, you must try the L'Aquila liver sausage and a few slices of L'Aquila Caciofiore, a soft sheep's milk cheese with a strong aroma, with hints of artichoke and field grass. All accompanied by the fragrant Aquilano Homemade Bread, with a penetrating and appetizing smell, made from top-quality flour and natural sourdough. Don't leave town without a hint of sweetness: the Aquilan soft nougat is unmatched in the world, an original creation of the Nurzia family, which has jealously preserved the recipe since the early 1900s.


  • Alla scoperta delle città d’arte
  • Città d'Arte
  • Comuni
  • Cultur
  • Fontana
  • Fortezza
  • Mountain resorts
  • Places of culture
  • Sentiero
  • Urban trekking


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Location of the Destination


42.349204041045, 13.398320674896


Last updated

31/07/2023, 16:41

Published by AbruzzoTurismo