Lose yourself in the characteristic streets and on the enchanting “Passeggiata Orientale” of Ortona, a proud town of culture and sea, home to eclectic artists, and one of the most popular seaside resorts on the coast in the territory of Chieti.
Of ancient origins, it had a notable development under the Frentani, especially due to the presence of the port, the most important in Abruzzo. It experienced its moment of decline in the Middle Ages, only to rise again under the rule of the Suebi. In World War II, it was the scene of bloody battles and was almost destroyed by bombing. It retains a remarkable artistic and architectural heritage from its past, culminating in the majestic Aragonese Castle.
It is incredible how much history, mystery and charm in this castle! A grandiose example of military architecture built in the 15th century, it stands on the promontory known as “La Pizzuta”, which falls sheer to the sea, dominating the scenic Adriatic coastline. The construction of the fortress, as we know it today, dates back to the period between 1450 and 1470. The earlier structure was probably commissioned by the condottiere Giacomo Caldora, who had imposing walls built to protect Ortona from the attacks of the Aragonese. However, the Aragonese managed to conquer the town in 1452.
The Farnese Palace, which houses the Basilio and Michele Cascella Art Gallery, the picturesque old town and the many museums such as the Museo Civico, Museo Diocesano, Museo Musicale Tostiano and Museo della Battaglia are definitely worth a visit.
The “Moro River War Canadian Cemetery” is a testimony to the Second World War. It is situated on a gentle hillside. Here, in a serene and orderly garden are the tombstones of 1615 British Commonwealth soldiers, mostly Canadians, who died in December 1943 during the fighting for the crossing of the Moro River and later in the Battle of Ortona. In the southern part is the small church of San Donato, flanked by an arch that serves as the main entrance.
After an initial stretch of wide, sandy beach to the north, including “Località Foro”, “Lido Riccio” and “Lido dei Saraceni”, Ortona's long coastline changes physiognomy and becomes a succession of inlets, bays, cliffs and promontories overlooking the sea with rich Mediterranean-type vegetation. This is where the picturesque and distinctive “Trabocchi Coast” begins extending as far as Vasto. Accommodation is good with modern hotels, campsites and B&Bs.
Ortona is also an important pilgrimage destination. The Cathedral of San Tommaso – the city's patron saint – has held the earthly remains of the Apostle since the 13th century, celebrated annually on the “Festa del Perdono” (Feast of Forgiveness).
Ortona does not disappoint in terms of culinary expectations, typical of the region. Typical dishes such as pasta with “pelosi” (crab) sauce, “pallotte cace e ove” – meatballs made of cheese, eggs and breadcrumbs – grilled “fegatazzi” (liver sausages), cuttlefish and peas, roast salt cod and peppers, salt cod and stewed potatoes and “pizze e fuoije strascinate” – pan-cooked vegetables accompanied by cornbread – must be tried at least once.