History of Civitella del Tronto
Civitella is the most well conserved historic borgo in the whole Teramo province area. It is so beautiful and stunning that attracts tourists all over the world. Civitella del Tronto has been even nominated as one of the most beautiful Borgo of Italy. It is so characteristic and well preserved that films, tv advertisements, fashion parades and many other famous events have been hosted here. Visiting Civitella is like jumping back in the past, walking through stone buildings and marvellous glimpses of nature that surrounds the ancient town and fortress.
Civitella del Tronto is located on the slopes of the Laga Mountains, famous to be one of the most remotes and inaccessible places on the Apennine. The origins of Civitella are unknown despite many founding in the area of pre-historic civilisations. Many historians believe that Civitella was formerly named Beregra, an ancient town founded by the Piceni, an italic tribe conquered by the Romans on a later date.
The first historical records of Civitella are from the 10th/11th century when it was mentioned as a fortified town in some documents. From the 13th century, Civitella began to have immense importance for the Kingdom of Naples due to its strategic position on the border with the Papal State, therefore the Fortress started to be extended and the city walls fortified.
In 1442 A.D. the borgo passed from Angioini to the Aragonese ownership and Alfonso I began the implementation and fortification of the borgo and the fort.
In 15527 A.D. during the “Tronto War”, Civitella was besieged by the French troops of the dukes of Guisa and Antonio Carafa but the fort and the town heroically resisted this attempt and the French had to leave empty-handed. Thanks to this heroic resistance were given the title of Fidelissima (“Very Faithful”) by King Philip II of Spain. After this event in honour of the war just won, Civitella was renamed Civitella del Tronto.
In 1746 Generoso Cornacchia was born in Civitella del Tronto. He was an important auditor of the Fortress and a famous writer. His most notorious book is “Ricordi di Economia Campestre”, a practical guide on self-sufficiency and farm management.
During the French Napoleonic war (1798-1806) Civitella was besieged again by the French but this time fell after 4 months of fighting. On this occasion the commander in charge of the Fort, Matteo Wade an Irish born soldier, despite having only 300 soldiers in the fort, he and his men fought with honour, defending the Fort outnumbered for more than 4 months until exhausted were forced to surrender. The king of two Sicilies, Francis I was so impressed by his courage, values and military skills that rewarded him with a monumental statue in Civitella and a life pension.
In 1860 the Borgo and the fort were besieged for the last time by the Piedmontese troops. Even this time the fort fought with honour and courage. Despite the proclamation of the unification of Italy on March 17th 1861, the fort was still fighting as not conquered yet. The fort will fall 3 days later exhausted and without food and ammunition.
The fort was later destroyed and left in an abandoned state for a century until in 1975 the government and the town council decided to restore and renovate what was left. The restoration works lasted 10 years and were completed in 1985.
Civitella del Tronto is for sure the most stunning unknown place you could ever visit. Every year is visited by more than 45.000 people. The fortress and the borgo are the most visited places in the Abruzzo Region.
What to see in Civitella del Tronto
The fort is the most important attraction of Civitella. It was completely restored in between the 70s and 80s and it hosts the museum of ancient weapons and ancient maps. The stunning view of the valleys that surround the area makes the place look fairly tail. From old prisons to military squares, from water reserves to the ancient military stations, the fort has a lot to tell and a lot to be discovered.
Matteo Wade monumental Tomb
Located in Largo Rosati, this monumental tomb in neoclassical style was erected in 1829 by Francesco I in memory of the Irish commander Matteo Wade. The monument was stolen by the Piedmontese troops’ as a war trophy during the siege of Civitella in 1861, believing it was made by Canova. In Ancona, some experts confirmed that it was not a work of Canova and it was left there before returning to Civitella in 1876.
Italian narrowest street
Visiting Civitella will give you the opportunity to walk on the narrowest street in Italy. Located in the historical city centre, it is one of the many narrow streets or passages made in the borgo during the past centuries.
Convent of Santa Maria dei Lumi
Located on a hill opposite Civitella, this convent was built in 1466 in romaic style. In 1811 Franciscan community abandoned the monastery due to the suppressive laws of the convents issued by Gioacchino Murat. In 1861 was heavily damaged and subsequently abandoned due to the numerous battles for the siege of Civitella Fortress. Finally in 1882 was restored by Giuseppe Ferretti who later donated the building back to the Franciscan community. During the I World War the building was requisite and transformed into a military hospital and during the II World War instead was used as a concentration camp.
Generoso was born in Civitella on March the 19th 1746 from a well known, respectable and noble family. The Cornacchia in fact were barons with agricultural possessions in the surrounding of Civitella. During his working career, he was first a lawyer in Naples and then an auditor at the Fortress of Civitella for more than 14 years, until 1799. In 1813 was appointed Consigliere d’Intendenza dell’Apruzzo Superiore and President of the Teramo agricultural society. He is famous for his publications regarding the agricultural situation of the area and for his book “Ricordi di Economia Campestre”, probably the first self-sufficiency and agricultural management manual ever published in Europe. He died in Teramo on September the 8th 1831.