Approximately 15km north of Teramo is the hill-town of Civitella del Tronto, a 16th century town that grew up at the time of the Spanish domination of the area, around the magnificent Bourbon ‘Fortezza’ (fortress) that dominates its skyline.
This massive fortress (590 masl), one of the largest in Europe at 25,000 squared metres, can be dated back to 1069, and has survived many assaults, before finally succumbing to the Piedmontese siege in 1861, one of the last bastions against Victor Emmanuel II’s pursuit of a unified Italy. The town itself is a delightful maze of little cobbled streets, dead ends, and mysterious stairways, as well as an unusually high selection of restaurants and cafes – possibly to sustain all the nuns running silently with poise and dignity back & forth from the convent…
One of the mysterious stairways eventually led us to a large stone entranceway to the fortress itself. The scale and order of the place is remarkable after the piccolo corsie of the town; you ascend a thigh-achingly long, walled-in ramp to the ticket office, buy your tickets (€7 I think) and then continue upwards to the main palazzo, where the relatively intact shells of the Governor’s house and the Church of San Giacomo stand. From there one can travel the length of the fort via the parapets, or via the internal courtyard.The fort has a museum. containing ancient armour & weapons, and maps, an art gallery and “bottega”, as well as a chamber containing some rather bizarre modern sculptures of a military nature.
Walking the length of the fort it is easy to appreciate the strategic advantage of the location, and the feeling of near invulnerability the structure would have lent its residents, though no doubt the smell of damp (and worse…) would have been far more invasive then! The military history of the place gives a fascinating insight into the history & development of Italy itself, and can be seen in considerable detail at the official website (see below). The views from the fort are amazing, looking out onto the Montagna dei Fiori, Campli, Monte Ascensione and even the Adriatic.
The Bourbons Last Bastion Against Unification
Fortezza Civitella del Tronto official website
Click here to view a slideshow of Civitella del Tronto Fortezza
Roddy Newlands is co-editor for lifeinabruzzo.com, Abruzzo allows him to get his mountain-air fix, & satisfy his passion for pasta & panettone. He works full-time for groBlogs where he boosts online business development for clients via his super duper online marketing skills