History of Pacentro
Pacentro is a borgo located on the slopes of Morrone Mountain. In the heart of Abruzzo, this medieval little town despite the small population, just over one thousand inhabitants, is one of the most well preserved and beautiful borgo of central Italy.
A Legend ascribes the foundation of the town to Pacinus: a Trojan hero that after being left by Aeneas on the banks of the river Tiber, would have walked himself all the way to the Sannio and arrived at the foot of Mount Morrone where he would have founded Pacentro.
We know for sure that the valley all around Pacentro was inhabited since prehistoric times however the foundation of the borgo started in between the V and the VIII century with the building of the castle known today as Castello Caldora. Initially was simply built as a defensive settlement but with the barbarian invasions, the locals had the necessity to defend their selves from looting and raiding building the castle and a watchtower.
During the middle age, Pacentro had a key role in the Angevins-Aragonese war. The borgo being under the influence of the Caldora family took the side of the Angevins. In 1464 the Aragonese won the war with Antonio Caldora losing all his influence power and properties in Pacentro.
From 1483 until 1612 the feud belonged to the Orsini family, winners of the war. During their domination, they modified, renovated, and expanded the castle.
From 1612 until the abolition of feudalism the feud went through different owners until in the late 50 it was donated back to the community. In between 1940 and 1960 Pacentro has undergone massive depopulation due to the lack of opportunities, lack of jobs, and the post-war economic crisis.
Despite the depopulation and despite the many unlucky events it had go through in the last few years, Pacentro is recognized and worldwide known for its beauty, being one of the most stunning Italian Borgo.
Madonna (the singer) her paternal grandparents Gaetano Ciccone and Michelina Di Iulio came from Pacentro.
Pacentro has been for many centuries famous for the processing of fabrics, silk in particular. In fact, merchants from all over Italy were gathering in Pacentro to purchase the precious goods.
What to see in Pacentro
The castle was originally built prior to the Xth century and successfully restored and expanded by the Orsini in the XVth century. It has a trapezoidal shape with a square tower on each corner. Three circular bastions are also present. To date, only 3 towers are left. The 17th-century facade gives on a square where the church of Saint Mary Major is placed.
Church of Saint Mary Major
This is the most important church of Pacentro. It was built in the last middle age/pre-renaissance times in between the XIVth and the XVth century and was heavily restored after the 1706 earthquake. Built into three naves divided by octagonal columns, the facade is of later origin (second half of the XVIth century). In the rear part of the building, there is the high bell tower.
Pietra Tonna or Stone of Scandal
It is located in Porta Santa Maria. It is a stone where insolvent debtors were named and shamed (most of the time naked) due to unpaid debts. Fortunately, this tradition is just something that belongs to the past.
This is the ancient watering-place where the ladies were used to go carrying on the head the “uaccile” (a copper basin) to wash clothes.
The Zingari’s Race
This folklorist race takes place every first weekend of September on the Madonna di Loreto honor. Races must run barefoot along the steep and rugged path that leads from the Ardinghi hill to the homonymous church. The legend says that the race was also used by the valiant leader Giacomo Caldora to select valid elements for his mercenary army from among the villagers. The first three classifieds are carried on the shoulders by their companions through the streets of the town accompanied by the musical band.