L’Aquila is the capital city of the Abruzzo region in Italy. Laid out within medieval walls upon a hillside in the middle of a narrow valley; tall snow-capped mountains of the Gran Sasso massif flank the town. A maze of narrow streets, lined with Baroque and Renaissance buildings and churches, open onto elegant piazzas. Home to the University of L’Aquila, it is a lively college town and, as such, has many cultural institutions: a repertory theater, a symphony orchestra, a fine-arts academy, a state conservatory, a film institute. Close to the highest of the Apennine summits, L’Aquila is positioned at an altitude of 721 meters in the Valley of the Aterno-Pescara, situated between four mountain peaks above 2,000 meters. The mountains block the city off from warm humid air currents from the Mediterranean and give rise to a climate that is cool in comparison to most of central Italy, and dry. It has been said that the city enjoys each year eleven cold months and one cool one. L’Aquila is approximately 100 kilometers (62 mi) to the east-north-east of Rome, with which it is now connected by a motorway through the mountains.
Abruzzo: Made in Nature, Made in Italy
In addition, here are some highlights of the city, to give you some ideas about how to spend your free time in L’Aquila
- Getting Around in L'Aquila
- Must Visit Places in Abruzzo
The best way to get to know the city is on foot. The public transport in L'Aquila is covered by the AMA bus company . Depending on how busy the trip can get, they run orange/blue/green/black busses "l'autobus" or blue vans called "pulmino".
The final destination of the bus is always written on the front side of the bus and together with the bus number can be seen from far. You need to get used to the way the timetable is written, as you can either search for number, or the bus stop (not for the time or “from-to destination trip”). To search for the time online, please check the name of your bus stop and then search for this destination in Linee e Orari to find the bus number you need to take. The other way is to search for the number and then check where it goes. Moreover, there is nowadays nice and clear time table on every bus stop. You can find the map of lines here.
Tickets and Prices
You are obliged to enter a bus with a ticket and validate it in the yellow machine inside the bus. The complete list of ticket selling places can be found here.
Here are the most useful types of tickets with prices:
- One way ticket on a bus for 1.6 Euro - on any bus from the driver
- 120 minutes ticket for 1.2 Euro - any selling place
- Santa Maria di Collemaggio
- Museo Nazionale d'Abruzzo
- Basilica di San Bernardino
- Fontana delle 99 Cannelle
- Rocca Calascio
- Museo Archeologico Nazionale d'Abruzzo
- Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park
- Lake Scanno
It was built in the 13th century by the hermit Pietro Dal Morrone who later became Pope Celestine V. The Basilica is the biggest in Abruzzo and has a Latin cross layout. The complex is comprised of a number of styles which are the consequences not only of the length of time taken to build the place, but also because of the vast number of restorations it has undergone. Today it has a monumental facade characterized by the geometric inlays of the pink and white blocks, decorated by two pilaster strips that create three areas and a frame. In the central area there is a great rosette with a double row of mullions and trefoil arcs. In the chapel to the right of the apse is the tomb of the founder who, in 1313, was canonized as Saint Peter Celestine.
The museum was founded with the aim of establishing a unitary civic museum of L'Aquila to represent the Abruzzese archaeological and medieval-Renaissance-Baroque heritage, with major works coming from L'Aquila and the adjacent centers. In fact numerous medieval statues, above all Madonnas, and wall frescos of monasteries, and sculptures of private palaces, risked the dispersion, or even the destruction, the dismemberment and the sale on the black market, like the case of the Madonna di Fossa, vandalized in the years' 60 and robbed of almost all the historiated panels of the tabernacle that enclosed it. These statues, preserved in isolated monasteries and at risk, such as the church of Santa Maria del Ponte in Tione, or the Madonna of Lettopalena, were taken and cataloged for accommodation in the castle.
This is a Renaissance Church, erected in St. Bernardino of Siena's honor by his Aquilan disciple St. Giovanni di Capestrano. The elegant facade, finished between 1525 and 1542 by the architect Cola d'Amatrice, incorporates in the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian styles, which were the spirit and fashion of the day that tended towards an exultation of the Classical Period. The interior, after the catastrophic earthquake of 1703, was re-decorated in Baroque style. The body of Saint Bernardino was placed in the mausoleum situated in the right aisle which was built by Silvestro d' Aquila, pupil of Donatello.
Another famous monument and symbol of the city is the medieval Fontana delle 99 cannelle: a fountain with 99 spouts. It was built in 1272 and stands in a pink and white checkered courtyard in a corner of the walls near the Porta Rivera. The fountain's water flows through the mouths of 93 mouldering grotesque heads and six unadorned spouts, representing the lord of the castles who contributed to form the city. Its originality is also in the fact that the source of water supplying the fountain is unknown.
The 13th century fortress is one of the oldest fort remains in Italy and it is also one of the highest in the Apennines, at 1,460 meters above sea level. The structure was originally built as a watchtower, but was later developed to shelter military personnel. The positioning of the fort, perched high on a hilltop, means the walk to see it can be quite a challenge, but the reward of the spectacular views from the top make it more than worth your while.
The earth of Abruzzo is known above all for the great quantity of archaeological sites, ancient structures and museums that it offers, and in particular, one of the most important museums that you can have the pleasure of visiting is the one found in the province of Chieti. Wanting to be more specific it is set up at Villa Frigerj, a neoclassical villa whose current layout was curated in 1984 and which has security systems in accordance with, as well as modern technological equipment suitable for climate control which is carried out in all seasons in a way to make people's cultural visit enjoyable.
The national park was established in 1991 and is one of the largest protected areas in Europe. The park encompasses a collection of mountains, with the tallest peak, the Corno Grande, reaching 2,912 meters above sea level. This location can be enjoyed and explored by either horseback, bike or on foot, and with over 150 miles of trails, there is a route to suit all abilities and time frames. Not only does the National Park have incredible scenery, the wildlife in the park is abundant, with rare animals such as wolves, cats, boars and bears residing there. It is also recognised world-wide for the diversity of plants! If you want to learn more, read our article on the wildlife of Abruzzo.
The largest natural lake in Abruzzo, Lago di Scanno is a tranquil and picturesque destination just north of the Abruzzo National Park. The drive on the windy road through the rocky mountains to get there offers panoramic views of the breath-taking scenery of the region. The emerald green lake and fresh mountain air is perfect for relaxation, but, if you’re feeling more adventurous, take a dip in the clear waters or hire a paddle boat or bike to explore the lake further.
You can find information on more Abruzzo destinations here