The Rocca of Calascio
Between the 12th and the 14th centuries a change took place in consequence of the Byzantine and Arabian fortresses, and also of the German camps (usually with towers). The new structures were independent from the inhabited sections, and had four round or polygonal towers in the corners. In the early 15th century, with the introduction of fire weapons and artillery, the castle was gradually replaced by fortresses with huge bastions.
In Abruzzo we find all kinds of castles and towers, both inside urban settlements and hamlets, and in remote, strategic positions. Castles and towers are a typical feature of the territory in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. In the 12th and 13th centuries the repeated invasions caused the building of castles almost everywhere, both for military and civil defense.
In the 13th and 14th century a castle-enclosure was a building with high walls, with a high tower inside and nearby the mansion of the feudal Lord, and in the courtyard repairs and huts for the population when the need arose.
In the Renaissance the castles became huge and rich, with bastions and cannon holes, and a wooden bridge over the surrounding ditch.
The Rocca was used to communicate through torches by night and mirrors by day and thanks to a system of connected sighting towers the messages reached the Adriatic on the one side and Naples on the other in a matter of hours.
The Rocca was mainly used in the centuries as a control post of the "transhumance", that is the seasonal movement of sheep from pastures in the mountains to pastures in the plains. The small borough of Rocca Calascio, was built by a group of shepherds in the 13th century to take advantage of the protection of the military garrison against brigands.
With the introduction of artillery castles lost their primary defensive functions and continued to be used as as sighting posts. The Rocca was badly ruined in the 1703 earthquake, and the population moved downward to the settlement of Calascio. Differently from the other castles of the Aquilan territory, which were intended as a refuge for the villagers and therefore very large, the Rocca was intended only to accommodate the troops. The Rocca and the surrounding plateau have been used as the background for historical movies, such as Lady Hawke, starring Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer and for a film on Padre Pio da Pietrelcina.