History of Abruzzo – The Middle ages

The fall of the Roman Empire brought to a halt any building activity worth mentioning. It was also due to the involvement of the region in the Greek-Gotho war (535-553). The arrival of the Longobard peoples in the 6th-century, who colonized the territory on a massive scale with their settlements, emphasized the already gloomy economic conditions of the region, dividing it between the Duchies of Spoleto and Benevento. It was in this period that the term “Aprutium” began to be used to refer to most of the territory. With Carlo Magno, in 843, administrative unity was restored, at least nominally, under the Duchy of Spoleto, even though, by now, the large feudal families were dominating the political and administrative scene.

The resumption of construction work took the form of buildings of great importance which still exist today, though mostly altered in one way or another. In fact, between the 8th and 10th century, the abbatial churches of San Giovanni in Venere near Fossacesia (Ch), San Pietro a Campovalano (Te), San Clemente al Vomano, dose to Guardia Vomano, a hamlet of Isola del Gran Sasso (Te) and San Bartolomeo of Carpineto della Nora (Pe) were all built. Furthermore, the churches of San Pietro ad Oratorium near Capestrano (Aq), Santa Giusta in Bazzano, a hamlet of L’Aquila, Santa Maria a Vico near Nereto (Te) as well as many others scattered throughout the regional territory were founded.

The Normans began advancing around the year 1000. After a century, in 1143, they took over control of the whole region, dividing it up into counties. They put it under the Regnum Siciliae (later that of Naples), of which it would be an integral part for seven centuries. Subsequently, in 1233, Frederick II of Sweden administratively reorganized the region making the Iustitieratus Aprutii of it (in 1233), and establishing Sulmona as its main town. In 1254 L’Aquila was founded, which, under the Angioini dynasty and for the following two centuries, became the principal city in the kingdom after Naples. All the cultural and political life of the region flourished in these three centuries before the arrival of Spanish domination.

The alternating political events, the absence of a central power which could unify the criteria for a “defense policy” and the struggles between the large feudal families were the main factors that prevented the building, between 1200 and 1400, of an organic system of castles and fortresses according to any unified plan. Nevertheless, the numerous defensive structures that were set up at that time presented such great typological variety that they made up “an exceptional indicative synthesis of almost all the aspects of fortified architecture” (Perogalli). Unfortunately, today, most of these buildings have fallen into decay, but, because of the surroundings and background in which they can be found -often in isolated places which are difficult to get to -, they still manage to hold a particular fascination for the occasional visitor.

Both held determining importance for the development of a particular kind of sculpture, rich in animal and vegetable ornamentation taken from popular symbology and applied to the creation of highly-decorated ambones and ciboria that are still visible today in many churches of the era. The presence in Abruzzo of the Cistercian Benedictines was a decisive step towards social and economic developments as well. As bright and energetic entrepreneurs, colonizers, and improvers, they soon developed a network of economically-integrated convents, which, in the absence of economic and productive structures at that time, were autonomous and able to provide for themselves.

Most of their establishments were built on pre-existing pagan temples (S. Maria di Casanova, S. Spirito d’Ocre, S. Maria Arabona, S. Giovanni in Venere, S. Maria del Monte, and others too), and the Cistercians provided the populations of Abruzzo with a beautiful example, encouraging the development of new productive classes and giving the region an impulse that was fundamental to the agrarian revolution and consequent demographic growth. The convent represents a most compelling testimony to the economic vitality of the Cistercian monks, or rather “Grancia” (ancient name for a monastery) di Santa Maria del Monte, isolated on the vast pastures of Campo Imperatore at an altitude of more than 1600 meters. The building, which was set up at the beginning of the 13th century, was equipped with storehouses, stalls, and large open-air enclosures so that the large flocks that belonged to the Order could be collected together and moved out to pasture.

A few items from Abruzzo

La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy
Fifty years ago, a group of Italian scholars gathered to discuss a problem: how to preserve traditional Italian cooking. They formed the Italian Academy of Cuisine to document classic recipes from every region. The academy’s more than seven thousand associates spread out to villages everywhere, interviewing grandmothers and farmers at their stoves, transcribing their recipes—many of which had never been documented before. This is the culmination of that research, an astounding feat—2,000 recipes that represent the patrimony of Italian country cooking. Each recipe is labeled with its region of origin, and it’s not just the ingredients but also the techniques that change with the geography. Sprinkled throughout are historical recipes that provide fascinating views into the folk culture of the past. There are no fancy flourishes here, and no shortcuts; this is true salt-of-the-earth cooking. The book is an excellent everyday source for easily achievable recipes, with such simple dishes as White Bean and Escarole Soup, Polenta with Tomato Sauce, and Chicken with Lemon and Capers. For ease of use there are four different indexes. La Cucina is an essential reference for every cook’s library.

Grazing In Abruzzo
Bruce Franchini (Director), Lidia Bastianich (Actor)
Lidia loves the region of Abruzzo! She describes the people there as welcoming, giving and jovial, and the hearty food of the region has left her with such fond memories. In the Abruzzese kitchens, Farro, a kind of wheat berry, is cooked as a whole grain and is manufactured in many shapes-both by small artisanal pasta makers and larger pasta companies. She makes this pasta with arugula and ricotta. Following her main course of Lamb with Olives, she creates the deliciously fun Scrippelle-which look like fettuccine-and tosses them in a hot caramel, citrus and apricot sauce for dessert.

Abruzzo. History and art guide
by Latini M. L. (Author)
Although it is a bit too synthetic, to the detriment of the overall readability of the text, the work provides an exhaustive description of the artistic heritage of Abruzzo, inserting points for observation not always recognized. Recommended.

Abruzzo 1st Edition
by Michael Kenna
Abruzzo, located in southern Italy, is known as the green region of Europe because of the system of parks and nature reserves covering more than one-third of its territory. In Abruzzo, Michael Kenna found a cultural identity that elsewhere, for the most part, has been lost to globalization and instant communication. Kenna photographed medieval ruins, ancient villages and a countryside rich in traditional cultivation. As curator Vincenzo de Pompeis writes in the book s introduction, 'Abruzzo's heritage, together with its impressive natural scenery, brings to mind romantic connotations that have historically attracted many international landscape artists, particularly in the 19th century. Michael Kenna fits perfectly into this rich historical vein of celebrated landscape artists who have worked in Abruzzo. Kenna's work often evokes the influences of Romanticism. In his photographs of historic rural landscapes, for example, there is an air of melancholy, which accompanies memories from the past. His images of ruins stir up feelings of passing time, of the constantly evolving ties between history and nature.' This gorgeous new monograph by renowned landscape photographer Michael Kenna is published to coincide with a major museum exhibition in Loreto Aprutino, Italy. Richly printed in duotone on matt art paper, and presented in an olive-green cloth slipcase with black debossed text on one side and a tipped-in image on the other, Abruzzo presents 65 images from the series, published here for the first time.

Michelin Map Italy: Abruzzo, Molise 361 (Maps/Local (Michelin))
Michelin created its first travel guide over 100 years ago to promote road travel and inspire driving confidence. Today, Michelin Travel & Lifestyle offers travelers an extensive range of travel guides, maps and online travel resources. These products deliver the same Michelin promise of quality and consistency consumers expect from one of the world's most trusted brands.
Publisher of travel guides, maps and atlases, Michelin Travel & Lifestyle offers a complete travel portfolio. Where to go, how to get there, where to eat & stay, and what to see & do ... all in one collection with extensive international & domestic coverage, especially for Europe. Our series includes Michelin (Red) Guides, Green Guides, Must Sees and Michelin maps and atlases.

Canti Della Terra D'Abruzzo
Ettore Montanaro
Buy MP3: all 51 at the same time, or each one individually.

Italian Folk Songs from Abruzzo 1927-1930
LA COPPIA SCIASCIA (Artist)
CD and MP3 reissue of the freat italian folk duo. Comes with rich notes and photos of the couple as well. Pasquale and Clara Sciascia immigrated to the U. S. from the Abruzzo region of Italy, settling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From 1927 to 1933 they recorded 44 songs fro the Victor, Columbia and Brunswick record companies. The Sciascias were the first to record a number of Italian and Abruzzese folk songs, 14 of which are reissued here for the first time in 90 years. The songs feature wonderful duet singing and exquisite string band accompaniment. Also included are notes on the couple and their music, photos, and the transcribed and translated lyrics. Includes 20 page booklet.