Located on top of a charming hill (600 m. above sea level) with an “eagle’s nest” position, the small village of Civitella del Tronto is one of the most interesting in the whole region because of the architectonic beauties enclosed by its ancient walls. This aristocratic village is built on a travertine rock overlooked by an imposing fortress, the last Bourbon bastion before the Unity of Italy. Such incredible engineering work is perfectly integrated in the surrounding landscape, which encloses both the Gran Sasso Mountain and the Adriatic Sea.
The fortress of Civitella del Tronto is the second in Europe for its dimensions: it stretches 500 m in length, covering an area of 25 thousand sq. m. The works which led to the construction of the building as we see it today first started in 1559, under Philip II of Spain. In 1789 and 1806 the fortress was besieged several times by French troops, and finally surrended to the Piemontese troops on 20 March 1861, 3 days after the proclamation of the Unity of Italy and after a very long siege. Destroyed and robbed, it was restored only 100 years after. Today it is fully open to visitors, who can enjoy its imposing squares, bastions and communication trenches; a visit to the Weapons Museum is recommended to anyone interested in knowing more about the history of the fortress.
Civitella del Tronto is also rich in other architectonic treasures, such as the several medieval and Renaissance buildings in the main streets, Via Mazzini and Via Roma, dotted with elegant palaces such as that of the Count of Termes, dating back to XIV century. St. Francesco (with its XIV cent. rose window and wooden choir stall) and St. Lorenzo churches are both worth visiting. The Franciscan monastery of “Madonna dei Lumi” and the beautiful Montesanto Abbey are located nearby.
Last but not least, the territory of Civitella includes part of the “Gole del Salinello”* natural reserve, which lies between the “ Montagna dei Fiori” and the “Montagna di Campli”. These two peaks of the Laga chain are so similar in size and shape that they are known as “monti gemelli”, the twin peaks. The “Gole” is one of the most spectacular calcareous canyons in the Apennines, whose beech and oak woods are home to the Golden Eagle, the Sparrow-hawk, the Peregrine Falcon and the Kestrel, and echo with the sound of the Salinello stream rapids and falls.
The “Eremo di San Michele Arcangelo” (St. Michaels’ hermitage), with its caves rich in stalactites and stalagmites, was built inside an imposing hollow not far from the heart of Civitella del Tronto, and has been a place of pilgrimage since the Neolithic times. This is also the starting point for a wild and charming trekking path which, following the Salinello River and winding around rocks and woods leads up to the remains of Castel Manfrino, the caste built by King Manfredi of Swabia.
*This area was already a natural reserve stretching for about 800 hectares in 1990, even before becoming part of the Park’s territory.