As you enter Penne you will immediately realize that its stylistic hallmark is the red brick that covers the pavement of the streets and the walls of the buildings in the historic centre, starting with Porta San Francesco, the main entrance to the old part of the city. It is an ancient city of art situated in the hills of the hinterland of Pescara, at an equal distance from the Gran Sasso d'Italia and the Adriatic Sea.
Using bricks is a choice that has its roots in the medieval period, when this building technique was used to provide greater protection to outposts considered strategic. Hence the nickname "Brick City”.
Ancient capital of the Italic population of the Vestini, known to the Romans as "Pinna Vestinorum", set on four hills between the valleys of the Tavo and Fino rivers, it is one of the gateways to the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park.
Wandering through the brick streets that flank the splendid aristocratic palaces and through the pretty alleys embraced by ancient walls, the historic centre will amaze you with countless glimpses of rare beauty, where your gaze rests on the surrounding heights, the verdant forests, the many olive groves that cover the hills, and the streams that run through the flatter areas.
Penne is best known for its spiritual essence and its close ties with St. Francis of Assisi, to whom a significant monument is dedicated. The first Franciscan church in Abruzzo was built here and in the centre of the town, a plaque commemorating his passage on September 16, 1216.
If you are a fan of sacred art, do not miss a visit to the Cathedral of St. Maximus located on the Sacred Hill, whose origins date back to the year 1000. The oldest part, from the 11th century, is the crypt that houses the rooms of the lower floor of the G.B. Leopardi Civic Diocesan Archaeological Museum in which frescoes ranging from the 13th to the 15th century are preserved. The upper floor includes thematic rooms devoted to sacred goldsmithing from the 14th to the 18th century, wooden sculptures, codices, and sacred vestments.
Also, of artistic-religious value are the Church of St. Dominic with its stucco decorations and the wonderful polychrome marbles of the altar. The Convent of St. Mary of Colleromano, an important Benedictine Abbey built in the early 14th century. The Church of St. John the Baptist of the Order of the Knights of Malta, with a façade of 1701 and stucco work by Piazzola. The Church of St. Nicholas, which houses valuable paintings inside, and the Church of St. Augustine. In Cathedral Square, of particular architectural note is the 18th-century Palazzo Castiglione, with meticulously researched and cared-for facades, interiors and decorations.
If you are a nature lover, Lake Penne, located within the Lake Penne Nature Reserve is an ideal destination for a Canadian canoe trip or a mountain bike excursion. The tour, then, could proceed in the De Leone Nature Museum, consisting of two nature sections and one dedicated to the recovery of the ancient arts of the area.
After a mountain bike or canoe trip, what could be better than regenerating yourself with some local culinary specialties? Penne offers you a wide choice, but you can't pass up the famous trippa alla pennese, a single dish flavored with parsley, bay leaf, mint, marjoram and chili pepper, to be served hot with pecorino or grated parmesan cheese, arrosticini tender skewers of mutton cooked over the embers capable of conquering even the most demanding palates, pecora alla callara a long-prepared recipe linked to the rustic and decisive flavors of Abruzzo's agro-pastoral tradition.
Penne is part of the Club of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy.