Lying on soft hills that slopes down from the Maiella mountain range toward the sea, Lanciano boasts a millennia-long history evidenced by the remains of the city of Anxanum, capital of the Frentani people. Archaeological investigations have uncovered the presence of a Neolithic settlement, preserved in the Santo Spirito Museum Complex, an archaeological museum housed in the former Celestinian convent dating from the 1300s.
Our journey through this city starts from Piazza Plebiscito, overlooked by the Town Hall, originally the seat of the Universitas lancianese. This was the subject of an urbanistic revolution in the past centuries and has always been the beating heart of the city's social, intellectual and spiritual life. Originally, it was surrounded by numerous shops that gave the original appearance of the medieval era. In fact, with its fairs and thanks to its proximity to the port of Ortona, it was a privileged place of meeting and exchange until 1306, when the stores moved across the Diocletian Bridge.
Your attention will be caught by the elegant façade with neoclassical lines of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Ponte, erected in the 11th century. A miraculous statue of the Mother of God had been found on the arches of the Diocletian Bridge: initially a votive chapel, the church was declared a cathedral in 1576 and was gradually enlarged to its present proportions in the last century's rebuilding.
On the left of the Bell Tower, a staircase will lead you to the Diocletian Bridge. Here it is possible to access an interesting Underground Archaeological Route to discover architectural details such as corridors, passageways and rooms existing under the ancient Piazza and under the fascinating Church of St. Francis. The Church, built in 1258 in the Romanesque-Burgundian style on the site of the Church of St. Legonziano (7th/8th century), a pilgrimage destination, preserves evidence of the oldest Eucharistic miracle in the Catholic world.
To get to know the city better, you can continue strolling through its ancient neighborhoods that radiate around the square. Lancianovecchio, Civitanova, Sacca and Borgo, are embellished with magnificent residences of ancient merchant families and nobility, charming Art Nouveau and Deco palaces in the Fiera district and on Cappuccini Avenue, and religious buildings such as Santa Maria Maggiore and Sant'Agostino with their marvellous portals.
Another interesting urban architectural example is the complex of the 11th- and 15th-century Civic Walls of the Montanare Towers; located on the southern slope of the ancient town of Civitanova, they defended the town from attacks from the mountains.
If you are among those who like knowing the history of a place, go through Porta San Biagio. This is the only survivor of the 9 gates opened in the defense walls, consisting of a simple pointed arch made of sandstone and dating back to the 13th century. It will allow you to immediately enter the heart of the Lancianovecchio or quickly reach Piazza del Plebiscito.
The importance of traditions for Lanciano is unquestionable. To get to know it better, we invite you to attend some not-to-be-missed events, including the historical commemoration ll Mastrogiurato in september and the Processione degli Incappucciati, a ritual that takes place on the evening of Holy Thursday, whose origin dates back to the 16th century.
We do not live only for culture and art! Stop for a break in one of the many taverns or restaurants to enjoy the flavors of the area to the fullest. Our recommendation? The "rintrocilo", handmade pasta topped with mixed meat sauce and a sprinkling of pecorino cheese, and a good dish of "rape strascinate", that is, turnips repassed in a pan with oil, garlic and chili pepper to taste, all washed down with a good glass of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo!
What else to see:
- The Fenaroli Theatre
- The Churches of St. Blaise (12th century), St. Giovina (16th century), St. Lucy (13th century) and St. Nicholas (15th century)
- The Fountains of the Borgo (16th cent.) and of Civitanova (rebuilt in 1825)