A visit to Avezzano in the province of L'Aquila gives you an insight into a history of destruction, reconstruction and epochal changes that have made the city a sort of phoenix, ever stronger with every rebirth.
Just think that the 'capital' of Marsica - a strategic territory between Abruzzo and Lazio around the Fucino Plain - was pulverised by a terrible earthquake (1915) and then by bombing during the Second World War (1944). But its oldest history tells of another destruction, the one carried out in 1361 by Francesco del Balzo, Duke of Andria, to punish the city for supporting one of its enemies.
And there is that of the draining of the 'bizarre' Lake Fucino, once the third largest lake in the country, which changed the fate of the entire territory from every point of view.
The basin, which was extremely unstable and subject to rapid and dangerous changes in level, very frequently damaged the surrounding countryside and populations and therefore had to be 'annihilated'. The Roman emperor Claudius was the first to try this with a hydraulic work demonstrating the great expertise of the time in engineering, then centuries later, Duke Alessandro Torlonia, who succeeded in making it 'disappear' on 30 June 1875.
Today, the Fucino Plain is one of the most fertile areas in Italy.
A few traces of Avezzano's past have managed to survive, as you can see from the imposing Orsini-Colonna castle, restored and remodelled, in a scenic position; stone remains from the Roman, medieval and Renaissance periods, found in the centres of Marsica, such as cippus, are and funerary stelae, can be admired at the Aia dei Musei, a place where the environment, landscape, history and archaeology meet; in the Villa Torlonia at the characteristic wooden structure of the Torlonia Pavilion, known as the 'hunting lodge', you can visit the museum of rural civilisation, and stroll in the Romantic Garden, over 5 hectares, with centuries-old trees and plants of various species.
Don't miss the archaeological park where the tunnels and access tunnels to the emissary from the Claudian era emerge, with the remains of the works and equipment used to drain the lake, the first of which dates back to between 41 and 52 AD.
Then go to the Incile del Fucino and the drainage, 5 kilometres from Avezzano, interesting to realise the extent of the work. It is a monumental infrastructure in neoclassical style, at the mouth of the effluent into which the water precipitates through two mouths and surmounted by a seven-metre-high marble statue of the Immaculate Conception. Upstream of the Incile, you can see a bridge with three arches and gigantic sluice gates.
If you have more time and, above all, energy, go exploring (on foot or by mountain bike) the Monte Salviano Guided Nature Reserve where you can also enjoy paragliding and trial running.
To round off a beautiful day, sit down at the table to taste the traditional dishes such as sagne e fagioli, maccheroni alla chitarra, anellini alla pecorara, pecora alla cottora (or alla callara) porchetta, ferratelle mostaccioli and soft amaretti biscuits, typical of the Marsica area.
What else to see:
- The Cathedral of the Marsi
- The Sanctuary of the Madonna di Pietraquaria
- The Church of San Giovanni Decollato
- The Church of San Giuseppe
- Torlonia Palace
- Bishop's Palace