If you are looking for a European tourist destination, consider visiting the Abruzzi region of central Italy. Depending on your interests, this beautiful area might be an ideal vacation spot. You can see scads of churches, lots of Roman ruins, engage in winter sports, simply enjoy nature and much more. Abruzzi is definitely off the beaten path, despite the fact that it is fairly close to Rome. We start our tour of western Abruzzi in the small city of Teramo. Then we head south to Montorio al Vomano and then southwest to the regional capital of l’Aquila. Be sure to read the companion articles in this series that present eastern Abruzzi and the fabulous Gran Sasso National Park.
Teramo whose population is some fifty thousand is a regional capital. The town center is the Piazza Orsini that hosts the Town Hall, the Fourteenth Century Palazzo Vescovile (Bishop's Palace), and the Romanesque Twelfth Century Duomo (Cathedral) of San Berardo whose interior is furnished in both Roman and Gothic style. Southeast of the cathedral are the remains of a Roman amphitheater. The west front of the cathedral faces on to the Piazza dei Martiri della Libertà, from which the Corso San Giorgio, the town's main street, runs to the municipal park. Other churches and religious buildings worth visiting include the Twelfth Century the Romanesque church of Sant'Antonio, the Fourteenth Century Church of San Domenico, and the sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie.
Montorio al Vomano is a town of about eight thousand people. Start at Il Colle (The hill) for a beautiful view of the valley below. Above the town you will see the ruins of the Fortress San Carlo, started by the Spanish Marchese del Carpio in 1686 to fight against brigand forces. Make sure to visit the Sixteenth Century Church of San Rocco in Piazza Orsini, the main square that boasts painted wooden altars and beautiful tapestries. Other churches to see include the Sixteenth Century Capuchin Convent and Church of Santa Maria della Salute and the Church of the Zoccolanti in the historical town center. On the road to Teramo you will find the Church of San Lorenzo built on ancient Roman ruins. Take the ancient Roman road towards L'Aquila to see the remains of the Temple of Hercules. Near Christmas enjoy the traditional 'Lu Stu, in which townspeople gather and are met by small groups of people carrying decks of 40 playing cards that depict historical figures. The whole scene is very animated, especially if you understand the local dialect. Then it’s on to the regional capital of L'Aquila, a mere one hundred kilometers (sixty some miles) from Rome by a highway through the mountains.
Montorio al Vomano, Abruzzi, Italy. Isn't it lovely?
Start your tour of this city at the central Piazza del Duomo containing the Thirteenth Century Cathedral of San Massimo that has often been destroyed by earthquakes. Other churches worth visiting are the Fifteenth Century Church of Saint Bernardino of Siena and the Thirteenth Century Church of Santa Maria di Collemaggio, which is located just outside of town.
In the highest part of the town you will find the Forte Spagnolo (Spanish fort) erected in the mid-Sixteenth Century that is now home to the National Museum of Abruzzo. Make sure to see the municipal museum and the Palazzi Dragonetti and Persichetti. You might be surprised that the local cemetery includes the grave of a 19th?century German gay rights pioneer, who lived and died at L'Aquila. Make sure to see the Fontana delle novantanove cannelle, a fountain with ninety-nine jets distributed along three walls, constructed in the late Thirteenth Century on the outskirts of town. The surrounding area boasts Roman ruins (the important Roman city of Amiternum), ancient monasteries, and numerous castles. Rocca Calascio is the highest castle in Italy and one of the highest in Europe.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website www.travelitalytravel.com devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website www.theworldwidewine.com with weekly reviews of $10 wine and columns devoted to various aspects of wine including wine and food, humor, trivia, organic and kosher wine and lots more.
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