The city of L’Aquila and its territory have numerous food and wine excellences.
In particular, the saffron, the lentils of Santo Stefano stand out above all, as well as various types of native legumes, and the nougat, a typical dessert of the Christmas tradition. Other typical products of the area are also very well known, such as dairy products, cheeses and cured meats, which have particular processes, as well as liqueurs, among which the gentian one is particularly appreciated.
Traditional sweets recipes are more elaborate. The famous Torrone (nougat) is made with chocolate, hazel-nuts, honey and a taste of cinnamon. Biscuits, called Ferratelle, are also typical of the area and are hand-made with a decorated iron.
Points of interest
The first urban itinerary begins at the basilica of Collemaggio, an exquisite example of Abruzzo architecture in a mixture of architectural styles, from Gothic to Baroque, founded in 1288 by Pietro del Morrone. Of note, the 15th-century façade with its two-tone geometric white-and-pink intarsia, and three portals surmounted by as many rosettes. The interior shows a long nave, with two aisles and a transept, closed by three apses, and 14th–15th-century frescoes.
Just 200m south we find Parco del Sole, with its lovely natural setting that is home to a playground, a nature trail and a performing arts site housing Beverly Pepper’s Amphisculpture.
The second itinerary starts from the church of Santa Maria del Soccorso (15th century), located to the north-east, outside the urban walls. A striking fusion of Medieval and Renaissance elements, once again using the white–pink intarsia with horizontal listing, it has two distinctive towers. Moving northeast on Viale Panella and then on Via Pescara, we arrive at the Porta Castello gate, erected at the same time as the Spanish fort (16th century). Entering the park, we appreciate the magnificence of the castle. The square-plan building has an inner court with four large corner bastions and is protected by a huge moat, with an imposing masonry bridge accessing the fortress. Nearby we find the Auditorium del Parco, a modern wooden performing arts venue, designed by Renzo Piano after the 2009 earthquake. Leaving Piazza Battaglione Alpini, we find the Fontana Luminosa fountain, one of L’Aquila’s iconic monuments, designed by Nicola D’Antino. Just 100m along Via Tre Spighe, we find the Medieval Convent of Sant’Amico with the 15th-century fresco and portal lunette
Returning to the Fontana Luminosa and heading down Corso Vittorio Emanuele, on the left we find the Nettuno fountain (1881), commemorating Queen Margaret of Austria. Another 200m and we come to the junction with Via Verdi, which leads to the Teatro Comunale (19th century) with its horseshoe interior and stalls, seating 600.
Nearby there is the magnificent basilica of San Bernardino (15th century), in a panoramic position at the top of the staircase in Via Fortebraccio. The three-order façade is by Cola dell’Amatrice (1525) and the grand Latin-cross interior has a nave and two aisles, with large side chapels, one with a splendid altarpiece by Andrea della Robbia. The majestic wooden ceiling, the monumental organ on the entrance choir (Ferdinando Mosca), and the marble tomb with the remains of San Bernardino (Silvestro dell’Aquila, 1505) are all stunning.
The third itinerary starts in piazza Duomo (13th century), with the coeval cathedral of San Massimo (currently closed for restoration), with its Classical revival façade. On the left, the church of Santa Maria del Suffragio (18th century), with an exquisite dome designed by Giuseppe Valadier. Restored after the 2009 earthquake thanks to the French government, the church is open from 9am to 6pm. The square has two fountains, by Nicola D’Antino and made in local stone, with twin bronze statues.
The last itinerary starts from the last gate, Porta di Poggio Santa Maria, added after the construction of the railway station (19th century). The fortified walls were about 4km in length and there were 12 gates with 86 towers. The main gates included Porta Rivera, located 400m further east. On the right, we find the scenic Fontana delle 99 Cannelle, a 13th-century fountain and the oldest public monument in the city. It consists of 93 stone masks and 6 single spouts, from which the water flows. Tradition says that the spouts represent the ninety-nine fortified villages involved in the foundation of L’Aquila in the 13th century. Opposite, we find the church of San Vito alla Rivera, of the same period as the walls, its continuous façade clad in white stone. The a lunette portal is flanked by two sundials.
We are near to the entrance to the MuNDA, national museum of Abruzzo, established in the early 1950s in the historic premises of the Spanish fort, where there are now seven rooms displaying a series of works highly representative of Abruzzo art, from the ancient Abruzzi civilizations to the Baroque period, with archaeological finds, sculptures and paintings (opening hours on the website).