Torricella Peligna from Mount San Giuliano, Gessopalena, Abruzzo.  Photo By Matthew Larcinese 

ABRUZZO

In the 13th century, the territory of Abruzzo became a part of the Kingdom of Sicily. (Since then, Abruzzo, which in fact is located in the heart of the Apennine Peninsula, became a part of Southern Italy). In 1222, King Frederick II destroyed the town of Celano and unified the territory of Abruzzo into a single province with the capital city of Sulmona. During the reign of Frederick II, there were built significant civic buildings such as the medieval aqueduct in Sulmona.

In 1230, Frederick II founded the city of L′Aquila. On August 23, 1268, a battle of Tagliacozzo (Abruzzo) took place, which was described by Dante, as the battle between Ghibellines and Anjou. Conradin the Swedish, a grandson of Frederick II, was defeated and executed by Charles of Anjou, the King of Sicily. The death of Conradin, the Holy Roman Emperor, became a historical border since it determined the end of Hohenstaufen dynasty and made France the predominant foreign power in Italy. Charles of Anjou divided the territory of Abruzzo into two parts: Aprutium Ulteriore and Aprutium Citeriore. Which literally means «on this and that side of the river [Pescara]».

In the middle of the 15th century, the power over the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily (which included Abruzzo) passed from the Anjou dynasty to the hands of the King Alfonso V of Aragon. At the beginning of the 18th century, Abruzzo being a part of the Kingdom of Naples was literally passing from hand to hand. After a short rule, the Austrian dynasty was replaced by the Bourbons.

In 1814-1870, the process of the unification of Italy (Risorgimento) took place. In 1861, the Abruzzo region together with the southern province of Molise was included in united Italy. Molise was separated from Abruzzo in 1963.

Although the history of Abruzzo was closely linked with the history of Italy, the region always kept its specific character due to inaccessible mountainous terrain, proximity to the Adriatic Sea, brave and militant nature of the Italics. Abruzzo has carefully preserved its rich historical heritage. Antiquity-lovers can visit many interesting archaeological sites of Italic and ancient Roman cities in Abruzzo. But the most interesting thing about Abruzzo is that modern citizens of ancient and medieval cities carefully keep not only historic monuments but ancient traditions. That is why sightseeing around cities of arts and beautiful boroughs is the most exciting experience in Abruzzo.

 During the period of conquest and relative pacification of Italic tribes in the 1-3rd centuries BC, the Roman Empire reached the zenith of its power, and after that there came the rapid decline. 

At the beginning of the 5th century, the Goths started invading the Roman Empire. In 476, the Western Roman Empire collapsed. In 500-520, barbarian troops invaded Abruzzo and destroyed many cities. The Eastern Roman Empire fiercely resisted and concentrated forces in the fortresses of Amiternum (Pescara), Histonium (Vasto) and Ortona. The Longobards divided the territory of Abruzzo between the dukedoms of Spoleto and Benevento. A significant number of German Longobards settled in the valley of Aterno. Later on, in the second half of the 6th century, the coastal areas passed under the authority of Grimoald I, Duke of Benevento, despite strong resistance of the Byzantine Empire. In the troubled epoch of the Longobard reign, there began a widespread construction of defensive structures – castles, fortresses, and watchtowers, which now give Abruzzo its ineffable charm.

In the 13th century, the territory of Abruzzo became a part of the Kingdom of Sicily. (Since then, Abruzzo, which in fact is located in the heart of the Apennine Peninsula, became a part of Southern Italy). In 1222, King Frederick II destroyed the town of Celano and unified the territory of Abruzzo into a single province with the capital city of Sulmona. During the reign of Frederick II, there were built significant civic buildings such as the medieval aqueduct in Sulmona.

In 1230, Frederick II founded the city of L′Aquila. On August 23, 1268, a battle of Tagliacozzo (Abruzzo) took place, which was described by Dante, as the battle between Ghibellines and Anjou. Conradin the Swedish, a grandson of Frederick II, was defeated and executed by Charles of Anjou, the King of Sicily. The death of Conradin, the Holy Roman Emperor, became a historical border since it determined the end of the Hohenstaufen dynasty and made France the predominant foreign power in Italy. Charles of Anjou divided the territory of Abruzzo into two parts: Aprutium Ulteriore and Aprutium Citeriore. Which literally means «on this and that side of the river [Pescara]».

In the middle of the 15th century, the power over the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily (which included Abruzzo) passed from the Anjou dynasty to the hands of the King Alfonso V of Aragon. At the beginning of the 18th century, Abruzzo being a part of the Kingdom of Naples was literally passing from hand to hand. After a short rule, the Austrian dynasty was replaced by the Bourbons.

In 1814-1870, the process of the unification of Italy (Risorgimento) took place. In 1861, the Abruzzo region together with the southern province of Molise was included in united Italy. Molise was separated from Abruzzo in 1963.

Although the history of Abruzzo was closely linked with the history of Italy, the region always kept its specific character due to inaccessible mountainous terrain, proximity to the Adriatic Sea, brave and militant nature of the Italics. Abruzzo has carefully preserved its rich historical heritage. Antiquity-lovers can visit many interesting archaeological sites of Italic and ancient Roman cities in Abruzzo. But the most interesting thing about Abruzzo is that modern citizens of ancient and medieval cities carefully keep not only historic monuments but ancient traditions. That is why sightseeing around cities of arts and beautiful boroughs is the most exciting experience in Abruzzo.

Photos taken by Matthew Larcinese 

Photos of Abruzzo by Matthew Larcinese 


Citations: 
Extract from Guida dell’Abruzzo, Rome 1903
Published by Adelmo Polla - Second Italian Edition 1998
Translated to English by Peter A. Ianni

The provinces that today are collectively known as Abruzzo did not form originally a political or ethnographical unit. The name Abruzzo is a corruption of an ancient word deriving from the population of the Praetutii whose capital was Interamnia (present-day Teramo), though it is uncertain when in history the name was extended and applied to nearby territories. Originally the name of the territory corresponding to present Abruzzo and Molise was known as Savinium or Samnium. The italic peoples that inhabited this large territory occupied the whole of present-day Abruzzo and were surrounded by the Aequi and Ernici, Sabinia, and Campania. They were divided into tribes called Praetutii, Vestini,  Marrucini, Frentani, Paeligni and  Marsi. Their economy was both
agricultural and pastoral. The sea did not invite them to trade nor did it attract foreign peoples to establish colonies along the coast: the harbors were better suited to fishing than trade. The earliest Abruzzese towns must surely have
been small settlements which formed autonomous political
communities including the fields around (agri). If there
existed an original culture, it was soon influenced by more civilized nearby populations such as the Etruscans, the Campani or the Magna Grecia colonies, from where other colonizers came. Hadria (Atri) for example was founded – or already existed and was occupied - by an Etruscan colony. For centuries Rome strived to conquer or tame these fierce tribes, which were later to help Rome greatly in its future enterprise.n the process of colonization, the Romans destroyed and rebuilt Italic cities, created new city-colonies (Alba Fucens, Castrum Novum, and Castrum Truentum), and most importantly – they constructed roads which connected Rome with the Adriatic coast (via Valeria, via Cecilia, via Claudia, via Traiana).


During the period of conquest and relative pacification of Italic tribes in the

1-3rd centuries BC, the Roman Empire reached the zenith of its power, and after that, there came the rapid decline.


At the beginning of the 5th century, the Goths started invading the Roman Empire. In 476, the Western Roman Empire collapsed. In 500-520, barbarian troops invaded Abruzzo and destroyed many cities. The Eastern Roman Empire fiercely resisted and concentrated forces in the fortresses of Amiternum (Pescara), Histonium (Vasto) and Ortona. The Longobards divided the territory of Abruzzo between the dukedoms of Spoleto and Benevento. A significant number of German Longobards settled in the valley of Aterno. Later on, in the second half of the 6th century, the coastal areas passed under the authority of Grimoald I, Duke of Benevento, despite strong resistance of the Byzantine Empire. In the troubled epoch of the Longobard reign, there began a widespread construction of defensive structures – castles, fortresses, and watchtowers, which now give Abruzzo its ineffable charm.

Contrada Spinelli, Piana la Roma Casoli, Abruzzo. Photo by Matthew Larcinese 

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