At the beginning of june, even if the forecast weren’t so good, we drove our motorbike to Abruzzo, a region located in the center of Italy. We choose as our homebase the little village of Popoli, where we had a stroll one afternoon two years ago….our hotel was central, nice and very cheap…
Though the site has not revealed significant Roman presence it appears in a ninth-century document as borgo di Pagus Fabianus. .Its name in medieval Latin was Castrum Properi (“Waystation Fortress”), which name was recorded as early as 1016 as the property of Girardo, son of Roccone. The castle above the town was built between 1000 and 1015 for Tidolfo, Bishop of Valva. In 1269 the Angevin ruler Charles I of Naples granted Popoli as a fief in the Cantelmo family, who held it, with its ducal title, until 1749. The fief passed to Leonardo di Tocco, Prince of Montemiletto, and his heirs, until feudality was abolished in the Regno in 1806.
Popoli was bombarded twice during World War II by the British Air Force. On 20 January 1944, the most important bridge in the region, the “Julius Caesar” bridge connecting Rome with Pescara, was destroyed. On 22 March 1944 at noon the city center and city hall were destroyed by substantial bombing by the British. Unfortunately, it was a day that rations were being distributed to town at the city hall, and there were long lines of women and children, many of whom were killed or wounded. The day is still remembered with sorrow by the town’s inhabitants.
Come with me and discover this little gem….looks like an old italian movie…or to be back in time….anyway, it’s the kind of walks I love to have….
All the people from the village cross the central square at least twice a day, it’s the most important place there…
The Church of St. Francis, from historical sources, seems to be there since 1334, but the entire structure has been renovated several times over the centuries: for example, the lower part of the facade is from 1480 while the upper part is from 1688. The belfry and the dome are from 1714, while the lions on the stairs, the romanesque portal and the rose window are from 1500. The rose window itself is very interesting, each radius is different, at the center there are the coats of arms of the Cantelmo and Carafa families, and on the four corners the symbols of the four Evangelists.
The Holy Trinity Church dates back at 1550 but was deeply renovated in mid 1700. The facade is some sort of baroque-ish style with the main portal and two minor at the sides, with niches above. It’s close to another Church (see better in the first photos) dedicated to St. Lorenzo and St. Biagio, built in the XII century with the facade renovated in 1562. Too bad it was all closed…again!
Now a private home, this building was once the Ducal Palace, home of the Cantelmo family…
This one below is the birth place of Corradino d’Ascanio…..
General Corradino D’Ascanio was an Italian aeronautical engineer. D’Ascanio designed the first production helicopter, for Agusta, and designed the first motor scooter for Ferdinando Innocenti. After the two fell out, D’Ascanio helped Enrico Piaggio produce the original Vespa. His fellow citizens didn’t forget the prestige he gave to his native town, and dedicated this bust to his memory….
The Ducal Tavern it’s one of the oldest building in town. being built in mid 1300 by the Dukes of Cantelmo. The gothic facade is fully decorated with the coats of arms of the families tied with the Cantelmos. It was used as a “statio posita” (in latin) or the official place where to change horses, and as customs duty office. Now it houses art exhibitions.
Being located about 70 km away from L’Aquila, Popoli has been damaged too by the heartquake that hit in 2009, its signs still well visible…..
On a lighter note….. our hotel, not providing dinner, has an agreement with a nearby “trattoria”…….a very nice place, friendly, cheap, and oh my…..so good!!
pork sausages….marinara trout….
mixed grilled meat…..
local salami and cheese plate…..
More to come about our last adventure in Abruzzo….