Welcome to Teramo, one of Abruzzo's four capitals, the one in the most northern part of the region. If it was a dessert, it would be a doughnut: genuine, simple, comforting.
That is its Genius loci, a calm and welcoming nature that envelops you like a mother's womb among its ancient stones and squares, the people sitting at the cafes, the "tub" along the main street overlooked by the cathedral bell tower, among the most beautiful in Abruzzo.
It is the ancient Interamnia, "city between two rivers", so called by the Romans because it was crossed by the Tordino and Vezzola rivers (according to other scholars, the term means capital), and it seems that the name of Abruzzo comes from the Italic population of the Pretuzi, who inhabited there before.
Small and quiet, of course, but with an important history, promising you a stay full of monumental surprises, suspended between sea and mountains. In fact, you are only twenty kilometers from the Adriatic Riviera and just forty from the peaks of the Gran Sasso d'Italia. In between, you’ll find a web of hills cloaked in vineyards and olive groves, all the way to tickling the sea.
Your visit can start at the city's most iconic site, where stands the majestic Cathedral Basilica, built in 1158 and the subject of numerous interventions, the most recent of which has restored it to tip-top shape.
Admire the façade, characterized by a 14th century portal by Diodato Romano and a large rose window; the square-shaped bell tower stands out at the rear, while the interior has three naves and is divided into three styles: 13th century Romanesque, 14th century Gothic, and the New Sacristy (1594-1632) with 18th century paintings by Sebastiano Majewski.
Marvel at the high altar, "illuminated" by a magnificent silver antependium, the work of Nicola da Guardiagrele, Abruzzo's most important goldsmith of the 15th century, and the equally marvelous polyptych of St. Augustine (15th cent.), signed by the Venetian Jacobello del Fiore.
A stone's throw from the Cathedral you can see what remains of the Roman Theatre, built in the 2nd century AD, in the Augustan age, which Gabriele d'Annunzio described as, "The ruins of Interamnia bear witness to ancient grandeur" .
The remains are currently the focus of a major project, which should restore it to its original beauty.
You are in the Roman part of the city, with its theater, amphitheater and a whole series of archaeological finds. They tell of the time when the center, at once a colony and a municipium, experienced a flourishing period under the emperors Augustus and, later, Hadrian.
Also nearby, you can reach the remains of the very ancient Santa Maria Aprutiensis, now the Church of St. Anne of the Pompetti, erected in the 6th century during the Byzantine period and then burned by the Normans in 1155.
Next to the small religious monument, extensive excavations have unearthed the floor plan of the ancient cathedral, with three naves and a final circular apse.
Another two steps and you find yourself in front of one of the oldest buildings in the city, whose first nucleus can be traced back to 1232: it is the House of the Melatino’s, a powerful family in the area, restored by a banking foundation. Inside, agreeing days and times to visit with the offices, you can admire the bust believed to be of Septimius Severus, the panel of the "Master of the Crivelleschi Polyptychs" (perhaps identified in the artist Giacomo da Campli) and other works.
Before lunch, if it's a nice day, you can take a walk in the river Park, a path that runs along the two banks of the Tordino and Vezzola rivers and equipped for games, sports, recreational rides and biking on the bike path.
And if nature is not enough for you, oxygenate in the Villa Comunale, which grew out of the 19th century Botanical Garden and is therefore rich in rare and centuries-old plants.
Here stands the Pinacoteca civica, with free admission, which we recommend you visit: it preserves 15th century shovels, paintings of the Neapolitan school of the 17th and 18th centuries and, above all, works of the Abruzzo 19th century, such as canvases by Pasquale Celommi, Gennaro Della Monica, Giuseppe Bonolis and sculptures by Raffaele Pagliaccetti.
It's time for food, so Teramo with its province is a veritable empire of the senses that promises you paradise. Maccheroni alla chitarra, Timballo teramano, Scrippelle 'mbusse, Mazzarelle, Bocconotti and Caggionetti are its main manicaretti, traditional dishes that speak the Teramo dialect.
If you find yourself here on May Day, you cannot escape the feast of the Virtues, another renowned dish whose origins are lost in the mists of time when, at the end of winter, peasant women would combine the first fruits brought in by the beautiful season with what remained in the pantries of winter provisions. Dip your spoon into beans, chickpeas, lentils, chickling peas, fava beans, peas, Swiss chard, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, zucchini, chunks of ham, homemade pasta of various shapes and other ingredients, and enjoy this ancient palate pleaser.
What else to see:
- La chiesa di Sant’Antonio
- La chiesa della Madonna delle Grazie
- La chiesa di San Domenico (temporaneamente chiusa per restauro)
- Il Museo archeologico
- Il Castello della Monica