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Churches and monasteries in Abruzzo

So near to the centre of Christianity, Abruzzo has been a great place for monasteries, hermitages, small and enormous churches scattered through the cities, towns, villages, on high mountain crests and sea rocks, sometimes almost unknown, other times the destinations of thousands of pilgrims each year. Our short tour will give us just a glimpse of this great spiritual and artistic heritage that this region can offer to the world, and that even residents do not know so well.

Let's imagine again we're coming from Rome through autoroute A25, and exit at Avezzano. On the 29th April each year there's a traditional pilgrimage in honour of the Madonna di Pietracquaria, and on 8-9 June to the Madonna del Fulmine at nearby Massa d'Albe, where we can also visit the beautiful ruins of Roman town Alba Fucens.

Let's take A25 again then A24 and drive to L'Aquila, the city of 99 churches, where Santa Maria in Collemaggio contains the mausoleum of San Pietro Celestino, and San Bernardino da Siena (The itinerary was written before the 2009 earthquake, so some of the places mentioned cannot be visited). Leaving L'Aquila (well worth, however, a longer visit, we might drive through SS 17 and after about 10 km take the direction of Pescara. A few km outside the city, on our left we find Bazzano, a small village on top of a hill, and, hidden inside it, a true jewel: the church of Santa Giusta

Let's now take motorway A24 and drive towards the Gran Sasso and then under the 10-km tunnel, which leads to the other side of the chain in the Province of Teramo. Out of the tunnel, let's look back to the majestic mountain, and then follow the motorway out to the Isola del Gran Sasso exit. The Sanctuary of San Gabriele is waiting for us there.

Let's go back to the motorway and reach Teramo, a lively city full of art, culture and traditions, and stop for a visit at the wonderful San Berardo Cathedral. Let us now continue our tour back to the A24 then A14 through Abruzzo and go to Chieti, only about 18 km from the Adriatic, in a panoramic position on a high hill. So many things to see here: the Roman baths, the Museo Nazionale Archeologico (the "Cittadella"), the Cathedral of San Giustino.

Finally another fine monastery and church in the Province of Pescara, just below another mountain giant: San Liberatore a Maiella, a hermitage built on a seemingly unreachable location.

After this, returning to the A25 will bring us back to wherever our next destination is...