The Town of Saint Angel
To Eleonora, author of the beautiful blog about Italy
Benvenuti in Abruzzo!
My favourite hill town Città Sant′Angelo is a perfect pattern of the medieval town planning. It is situated on the high hill (317 m asl) and its clear silhouette can be recognized from far away. The architectural dominant of the town is a slender belfry of the dome cathedral. I live in the neighboring town Montesilvano (Marina) and I can see Città Sant′Angelo almost from every place. When I walk along the beach I can observe simultaneously two hill towns – Città Sant′Angelo and Silvi Paese.
The modern city is situated on the territory which was inhabited by an ancient Italic tribe of Vestines. Ancient Roman historian Pliny the Elder wrote that Angelus or Angulum was one of the main cities of the Vestines. The city had been destroyed in 1239 by the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire Frederic II. The fact is that the citizens had been the Guelphs and under the leadership of counts of Loreto had supported the Pope in his fight against the Emperor.
The restoration of the town had begun as soon as 1240. The citizens had got a concession to restore the town under condition that they would not build fortifications. The Angulans had found a very wise alternative solution to defend their city. They had built houses so close to each other that they formed a unified wall. One can see these wall-houses (case-mura) even now. People still live there. There had been built 5 gates to enter the city – Porta Casale, Porta Licinia, Porta Sant′Antonio, Porta Sant′Egidio and Porta Sant′Angelo. Only the latter is missing today. More history…
Città Sant′Angelo is a member of the “Club of the Most Beautiful Boroughs of Italy”. In my opinion the town is a real masterpiece. It is so luckily situated that standing on its belvedere it is possible to observe simultaneously the magnificent panorama of the Majella and Gran Sasso Mountains and the Adriatic coast. The regular medieval plan of the town makes the sightseeing very easy and pleasant. Almost all interesting sites are situated along the main street Corso Vittorio Emanuele.
Usually the tourists enter the city through the St.Antonio Gate and immediately find themselves in front of the St. Michael the Archangel Cathedral. This cathedral is a symbol of the city. The silhouette of its tall belfry can be seen from far away. St. Michael the Archangel is the saint patron of Città Sant’Angelo and is depicted on its coat of arms. The monumental cathedral was built in the XIII century, in 1326 it was completed by a beautiful stone portal, and the 47-meter bell tower. Powerful facade is framed by a filigree arch portico. The interior of the cathedral is made in the baroque style. You can admire such works of art, like the wooden statue of the XIV century, wooden choir of the XVII century, frescos of the XIV century and solid wooden coffered ceilings.
On the left hand of the cathedral is situated the St. Anthony Church with a fine portico. A white stone portal of the church, so called the “Portal of Miracles”, was made by sculptor Raimondo di Poggio from Atri . The interior of the church is decorated with baroque stucco work.
A few steps away from the Archangel Michael Cathedral is situated the St. Francis Church. Its entrance has a beautiful portal in the Atri style. On either side of Corso Vittorio Emanuele are situated former noble palaces, though they do not differ from neighboring houses. I like very much their old solid wooden doors.
The St. Augustine Church is located at the end of the Corso Vittorio Emanuele, and can be seen from the very beginning of the main street. It seems that the whole street leads to the white stone church. This impression is strengthened by the fact that the church has a broad shallow stairs. Above the portal in a semicircular niche you can see a very dynamic sculpture of St. Augustine. His pose and expressive face are so dramatic that it seems the saint delivers a passionate sermon. Now the church doesn’t function, but in the interior there remain four altars and the remarkable stucco work of the artist Alessandro Terzani from Como.
There are so many remarkable sites in Città Sant′Angelo and they stand so close to each other that it is almost impossible to make their full-bodied photo. In fact that is the only thing that I don’t appreciate in the town. I always wonder if it is possible to live in the place and not go mad from its incredible beauty! Unlike many other beautiful boroughs Città Sant′Angelo is a very vivid town. It counts about 10,000 inhabitants. When walking around the city you can meet many young people and schoolchildren. While in the inland boroughs you always meet only few old persons sitting in front of their houses.
In summer many cultural and enogastronomic events take place in the city. In July and August there are numerous “Sagras” and “Festas” where you can taste the traditional Abruzzian dishes, listen to folk and pop music and buy handicrafts. In August, the main street hosts musical parties, accompanied by exhibitions and tastings. On the third Sunday of September the Festa del Perdono (Festival of the remission of sins) and the picturesque Sagra dell’Uva (Grapes festival) take place. The procession opens with a beautiful carriage carrying a sculpture of the wine god Bacchus.