Barrea is located in a mountainous area oriented toward the Sangro Valley and Lake Barrea, included in the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park.
The historic centre has the characteristic structure of a fortified village derived from a project carried out by the Benedictine monks, who built "Lo Studio," a unique fortress-convent, here in the year 1000. The cobbled streets, stone houses, ancient churches and palaces surrounded by a defensive wall give it a strongly traditional character. From the Medieval Castle, dating from the 11th/12th century and characterized by a square-plan tower and a circular-plan tower connected by a fortified wall, you can enjoy a striking panoramic view of the beautiful Lake.
Testifying the ancient origins of this village there is the Archaic Necropolis of Colleciglio, dating from the 6th-7th centuries B.C., where you can see the ancient forms of worship of the dead in the area. Archaeological investigations at the site have made it possible to reconstruct some aspects of the burial rites of the valley's earliest inhabitants. Finds unearthed during excavations at the necropolis are preserved in the Safina Civilization Antiquarium.
The 13th-century Parish Church of San Tommaso Apostolo is a monument of artistic-religious significance. It was damaged and rebuilt several times over the centuries, losing some of its original features. The frescoes, created by the painter Paolo Gamba da Ripabottoni, and the wooden Crucifix date back to the second half of the 1700s. The Church of the Madonna delle Grazie, which was built in the 14th century on the perimetre where the artificial lake Barrea now stands, was rebuilt in its present location to prevent it from being covered by water.
The village's culinary offerings are rich in traditional foods that are an expression of the local area. Exquisite are the orapi, served in soup with beans or as a first course together with gnocchi. Also, worth tasting are muscischia, dried sheep meat, pizza ki sfrijvie, which is a flatbread with pieces of lard derived from the cooking of pork fat made to obtain lard, and capitone. Carnival specialties are scarcioffl', a sweet sprinkled with sugar, and cicirchiata, a cake made of doughnut-shaped balls of dough, held together by honey. From the Easter season not to be missed is u' cor', an almond-based sweet with a ciammell' filling.
Famous from this village is the traditional Living Passion on Good Friday, which involves nearly 200 actors and figurants. Barrea is part of the Club of the Authentic Villages in Italy.