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Curiosities about Abruzzo

Curiosities about Abruzzo

Girls and boys, it’s time to learn some curiosities about Abruzzo, a beautiful, but somewhat lesser popular Italian region. Abruzzo might be one of the most underrated regions. We are hoping to change this by introducing you to some facts and curiosities about Abruzzo.

10 Interesting Facts about Abruzzo

curiosities about Abruzzo
Fabrizio Serpi, the author, with a snake around his neck during a festival in Cocullo

Let’s see what is so interesting about Abruzzo. Considering how it’s not really popular, we have found some really cool and interesting facts about Abruzzo. We would like to share them with you in this article. You are going to read about its history, the capital, festivities, food and so on. Are you ready to learn about the curiosities of Abruzzo?

1. The History of Abruzzo

curiosities about Abruzzo
Panorama of Vesto, Abruzzo

Since the beginning of Italian history, Rome has been considered the geographical centre of the peninsula. So much so that the nickname of Rieti is the “umbilicus italiae,” the navel of Italy. Therefore, it’s interesting how the region of Abruzzo has always been considered a southerner. Despite being north of Lazio, the region of Rome.

Perhaps it’s because Abruzzo was once part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Its inhabitants were known either as Papalini (because of the dependence on the Papal State) or as Regnicoli, because they were part of the kingdom. Since re equals king, the association was easy to make.

Further curiosities about Abruzzo was the distance from the central government and the distance from the commercial routes. These passed Tuscany, Lazio, and Campania. As a result of this distance, Abruzzo and its people have always been reserved and traditional, both in mindset and trade. For example, herding is still a source of income. Furthermore, the regional traditions born during the medieval period, remain rooted in current culture. The result of geographical isolation was a region paused in time.

2. The Curiosities of the Flag of Abruzzo

Curiosities about Abruzzo
Abruzzo Flag – Vintage Style

The flag of Abruzzo was adopted on 21 May 1999. The fun fact about this is that the flag of Abruzzo is the official symbol of this region. The design is “A burgundy field with the coat of arms of Abruzzo in the centre”. The three colours represent 3 elements (although not visible in the above picture). The white represents the snowy mountains. The green represents the hills of the region. Lastly the blue represents the Adriatic sea.

Let’s move on with the rest of the curiosities about Abruzzo and this region.

3. Facts about the Capital of Abruzzo

curiosities about Abruzzo
Scanno, L’Aquila Province

Did you know that L’Aquilla means “The Eagle”? Well, of course, if you are Italian or understand Italian then you probably knew, but for everyone else, it is quite an interesting fact about the capital of Abruzzo. L’Aquilla is surrounded by the Apennine Mountains, Gran Sasso d’Italia being on the north-east. Its medieval walls make it so captivating, this capital really has it all. If you are visiting Rome, L’aquilla is only 100 kilometres (62 mi) away from Rome on the highway.

4. Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo

Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo
Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo

We did say today you’ll find out all about the interesting facts and curiosities about Abruzzo. The National Park of Abruzzo is breathtaking. The main focus of this park established in 1923 was to protect nature and save certain wild animals from extinction. Lying in the centre of the Apennines between the Abruzzi, Lazio and Molise, the scenery is characterized by mountain chains. We do suggest you visit the park during the spring to experience the variety of wildlife and nature. As you can see from the picture, autumn is just as picturesque. For hikers and camping, summer is the season for you.

5. The city of Sulmona

The aqueduct in Sulmona Ph
The aqueduct in Sulmona Ph. wikicommons/Ra Boe

Nowadays, ancient festivities have been restoring everywhere. Hence, traditions are receiving a boost in support and interest. The fairs and festivals attract both tourists and young locals.

Sulmona is another little town in Abruzzo, Italy. It has many interesting sights, worth a trip. One of them is the aqueduct of Frederick II, while the other is the church of SS Annunziata. Furthermore, the city features the medieval Porta Napoli at the city’s exit. During the Middle Ages, every road that led to the capital of the Kingdom had one such gate.

Since the capital of the Kingdom was Palermo, all the way down south, the trip from Sulmona took months. And it was probably a dangerous trip.

6. Celebrations in Sulmona

Piazza Garibaldi in Sulmona, Abruzzo. View over the square, San Filippo Neri’s Church and the arch of the aqueduct Ph. depositphoto.com/ciaobucarest

One of the most suggestive ceremonies in Sulmona is the procession of the “Cristo Morto,” the Defunct Christ. It takes place on the evening of Good Friday. The medieval characters parade down the streets of Sulmona, dressed in costume and with sacks covering their faces. These are the characters of the martyrdom of Christ. They walk in synchronized steps to create a sinister sound.

Here’s the popular belief: if during the race, the statue falls, it’s a sign of misfortune. Hence, the year won’t be good.

Two days later, on the morning of Easter, the celebration of La Madonna che scappa in piazza (the Madonna who flees at the square) takes place. During this event, people carry on their shoulders the statue of the Virgin Mary. And they take it to the door of the church, where the Virgin is asked a question: where is the body of her Son? Later, participants tell her that her Son is alive and he awaits her in another church. So, he’s not dead as she believed.

So the parade moves to said location. At this point, the parade is running, simulating a race of superhuman joy. Until it reaches the statue of Christ.

7. Confetti and Sulmona’s birthplace

The famous confetti
The famous confetti. Image via.

These sugar-coated almonds are Sulmona’s speciality. It’s a secular tradition, born from the factory of Mario Pelino. Nowadays, visitors can also enjoy a tour and the museum. Confetti comes in every colour and flavour. Like the silver and gold for weddings or red for graduation.

Sulmona, the birthplace of Ovidio

The curiosities about Abruzzo is that the famous Latin poet Ovidio was actually born in Abruzzo. He was the author of the Ars Amatoria and of the adventures of imperial Rome. The poet created beautiful verses about gods and heroes in his Metamorphoses.

Ovidio’s misfortune was the rise of Roman emperor Ottaviano. In fact, he wanted to restore the “Pax Augusta” and to introduce a code of rigid morality. At this point, Ovidio, who had glorified Rome, was no longer welcome. The emperor exiled him to the Black Sea where he died, mourning the loss of his beloved Rome.

8. More events and celebrations in Abruzzo

Curiosities about Abruzzo
Amiternum, roman amphitheatre in Preturo Ph. wikipedia commons/Lasacrasillaba

In Preturo

The city of Preturo hosts another interesting celebration. It’s the re-enaction of a legendary story.

Once upon a time, an infant, the son of a poor herdsman, was taken from the field where his parents were working. He was kidnapped by a fierce wolf. The wolf carried him to a cave to devour him. However, the Madonna appeared. The wolf, impressed, brought the infant back.

During the modern celebration, local actors perform the story. In the beginning, the child was a doll. Recently, locals have allowed real infants -always with the parent’s consent, of course.

In Cocullo

Curiosities about Abruzzo
San Domenico Statue wrapped by snakes in Cocullo, Abruzzo, during the Festa dei Serpari. Ph. flic.kr/p/4NAGUK

Near the picturesque Lake Scanno, sits the town of Cocullo. Here, the saint protector is Saint Domenico. To commemorate him, the town holds a festival on the first Thursday of May.

This Saint protects against two things: toothaches (and all types of dental ailments) and against snake bites. There is a traditional ritual to perform when seeking protection. In fact, people have to ring the bell of San Domenico, in his Church. But it’s not over. To ring it, people have to tug the little chain, attached by the mouth.

Another festival in Cocullo is the one that takes place on the day of the Serpi (snakes) and Serpari (those who handle the snakes). It starts at the beginning of April. Locals comb the countryside to capture the snakes. Some snake handlers have up to 30 snakes wrapped around their necks. At the end of the day, there is a Mass. During the Mass, people carry the statue of San Domenico. During the procession, the handlers place the snakes around the neck of the statue. The curious fact is that the animals crawl ad move, but never fall.

Some of the handlers, out of devotion, hold the snakes in their mouths.

Enjoying some cuddles from a snake during the Festa dei Serpari in Cocullo, Abruzzo. Ph. flickr/gioi&colori

9. Local foods and Wine in Abruzzo

We are down to the last of the curiosities about Abruzzo. This is probably everyone’s favourite part. Abruzzo is quite the place to grow its own food and produce wine. Thanks to the climate and land, the richness and variety in food are one of the best in Italy. Even though the region possesses large amounts of olive and grapes, Abruzzo does produce less wine than other regions in Italy.

10. Watch: a road trip through Abruzzo

If we still haven’t convinced you to visit Abruzzo, then we hope this video will give you a boost of motivation to travel to Abruzzo.

Final thoughts of the Curiosities about Abruzzo

We are very happy about this article and all the fun facts about Abruzzo. We are hoping you have learned something new today and can only hope you’ll visit Life in Italy again for some more interesting facts. Have you visited Abruzzo? If so, what was your favourite part about it? Let us know in the comments below.

Written by Fabrizio Serpi

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