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L'Aquila is a city of modest size, rich in history, with its numerous squares and churches. It is also a pilgrimage destination and hosts the remains of San Celestino V and San Bernardino da Siena, whose lives were linked to this city or its territory. Unfortunately L'Aquila still bears the wounds of the terrible earthquake of 2009 and some historic buildings still bear the mark.
With its 714 meters above the sea level, L'Aquila is also one of the highest cities in Italy. It is also located a few tens of kilometers from the Gran Sasso National Park and can also be an excellent reference for high mountain lovers.
Piazza del Duomo is the main square of L'Aquila, the largest and most central, overlooked by two important churches: the Cathedral of San Massimo and the Church of Santa Maria del Suffragio. Inside the large rectangular square, there are two large fountains in opposite positions, which give it its symmetry. Due to its size and central location, this square often hosts events or concerts.
Located in the heart of the historic center of the city and in front of the Piazza del Duomo, the Cathedral of San Massimo dates back to the 13th century and underwent reconstructions in 1703 and 2009 due to damage due to earthquakes. The interior is still not accessible for renovations.
The nearby Church of Santa Maria del Suffragio, on the other hand, dates back to the 18th century, with a late-baroque facade with a very special inscription. Although the facade is intact, the signs of reconstruction are visible on its profile.
If you want to see another imposing church that still shows the damage of the devastating earthquake, go to the Church of Santa Maria Paganica, not far away.
Along the Vittorio Emanuele course you reach the Spanish Fort. Before entering it, at the end of the road, it is interesting to stop at the Luminous Fountain, built in 1934 by Nicola d'Antino. This looks like a basin in which two female nudes made of bronze stand out, supporting the Abruzzo basin. At night it glows a purplish color.
From the same square on which the fountain stands, you can glimpse the Spanish Fort and the park that surrounds it. It is a massive fortress, with a square plan and surrounded by four bastions, one in each corner. Built in the 16th century, it is surrounded by a moat and, to access it, it is necessary to pass through a stone bridge(Originally, this was a drawbridge, destroyed in 1883).
The park surrounding the Spanish Fort is the largest in the city. Although modest in size, L'Aquila has three other important parks: the Villa Comunale, the Parco del Sole and the Parco delle Acque.
The Palazzo dell'Emicilio is a seventeenth-century public palace and is characterized by a neoclassical semicircular colonnade, which faces the gardens of the Villa Comunale. It is located in the opposite direction to the Spanish Fort, along Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Today it is the seat of the Abruzzo Regional Council. Especially beautiful is the evening lighting.
Famous for its facade, the Basilica of Collemaggio was built in the second half of the 13th century, although over the centuries it has been retouched with restorations, modifications and decorations. The Basilica was founded by Celestino V and preserves his remains.
It is located on the outskirts of the city, at the end of the homonymous street that starts from the Villa Comunale.
The Parco del Sole overlooks the square of the basilica, set up in the twentieth century as an extension of the gardens of the Villa Comunale. Inside, various events are held, such as the Celestinian Forgiveness, which is held every year on 28 and 29 August.
Located in the city center, the Basilica of San Bernardino da Siena was built between 1454 and 1427 and houses the remains of the saint. It was destroyed by the earthquake of 1700 and then rebuilt in the Baroque style, with a large dome. The Basilica of San Bernardino also suffered damage during the 2009 earthquake; to be touched were above all the bell tower and the apse. Of particular interest, however, is its facade, built inspired by a project by Michelangelo Buonarroti for the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence.
The Fountain of the 99 spouts is one of the most famous places in all of L'Aquila. Located in the Riviera area, one of the oldest in the historic center, the fountain is made up of 93 stone masks and 6"faceless" spouts, from which water always comes out. According to legend, the spouts, positioned on three sides, would symbolize the 99 castles that founded L'Aquila in the thirteenth century. In front of the fountain there is the verdant Parco delle Acque.
Beyond the Porta Riviera, you reach the National Museum of Abruzzo, the most important museum in the whole region. Previously the museum was in the Spanish Fort, but, due to the damage suffered, since 2009 most of the collection has been moved to this new location.