Gessopalena, Province of Chieti, Abruzzo

This small town takes its name from the chalk quarries of the area, and can offer a wealth of medieval monuments and lively traditions in art, architecture, music and culture.

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  • Altitude: 644 m a.s.l
  • Distance from Chieti: 47 km
  • Population: ca. 1600 inhabitants in 2010
  • Postal code: 66010
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 0872
  • Frazioni: Castellana, Coccioli, Colle Mazzetta,Contrada Rossi, Isolina, Macchie, Pastini, Mandrini, Morgia del Pesco, Piano Mazzetta, Pincianesi, Riguardata, San Biagio Silvilini, Santa Croce, Valloni Cucco
  • How to reach it: by road, SS 81 from Chieti.

History - Antiquity and the Middle Ages

Inhabited since Pre-Roman times, in the early Middle Ages it consisted of a group of houses clinging on a big rock called "Pietra Lucente" (Shining Stone) on top of which was an ancient castle. Later on the population moved a bit downwards along the ancient "Via Peligna". At the time Gessopalena was the main commercial centre in the Aventino valley.

History - Modern Times

The medieval citadel was seriously damaged in an earthquake in 1933 and destroyed by the Germans in World War Two; what was left of the ancient center was recently restored and transformed in the open-air "Museo del Gesso".

One of the leaders of the Abruzzese Resistance was Domenico Troilo from Gessopalena, who was awarded a silver medal for his bravery. The Brigata Majella was formed in the October 1943 by partisan officers and soldiers from the Italian army. The unit fought in the winter of 1943-44 behind German lines in many guerrilla actions. During this period many local peasant villagers joined the ranks of the newly formed brigade.

These partisans, mostly very young, preferred to fight separately but eventually in the summer of 1944 operated under the command of the British 8th Army until the end of the war. The Brigata was officially dissolved at Brisighella on July 15, 1945. Approximately 1500 personnel served during the Brigata existence. It's the only partisan brigade awarded the Gold Medal for Military Bravery.


Notable citizens of Gessopalena

  • Gennaro Finamore, author of a great many works on Abruzzo, was born in Gessopalena on 11 August 1836. He studied first in Lanciano, then graduated in Medicine at the University of Naples. He was a doctor near his native village, and also dedicated himself to the traditions and folclore. With the publication of its work "Dictionary of the Abruzzese use", printed by Publishing House Rocco Carabba, he received favorable book reviews from national and international magazines. In 1893, with the second edition of this work, the Ministry of Education made him professor honoris causae, and he became a teacher in the Grammar school in Lanciano, where he died on 9 July 1923.
  • Giuseppe Persiani, (Gessopalena 16 march 1827 - Chieti 28 march 1899) musician and composer.
  • Marino Turchi, born on 31 may 1808, who became the rector of the University of Naples
  • Giovan Vincenzo Pellicciotti, born 20 march 1820, who was also a doctor as well as a poet and a patriot in the Italian Risorgimento
  • Giulio Rossi born 8 October 1824 and Andrea Rossi, born 8 june 1829, tailors and great patriots.

What to see

  • The church of Santa Maria Maggiore, with a beautiful sextiacute portal, the only piece left of Chiesa dell'Annunziata.
  • Fontana dell'Italia by sculptor Carlo Fontana.
  • In the vicinity, high in the mountain, a sculpture called "La Morgia" by Costas Varotsos.

Events and Festivities

  • 16 January: Feast of St. Antonio, with comic interludes about the Saint's temptation in the desert
  • Holy Wednesday: Miracle play in costume about Christ's passion and death. Every two years within the medieval walls 100 characters represent the Passion of Christ. At 20.30 the first scene with Pilate then ancient songs and the performance of the rito delle ore ("hours' rite"). Then a scene with Saint John, the crucifixion, deposition and resurrection. The Miracle play shows Christ meeting an emigrant on his way to Calvary. The two exchange burdens: Christ takes the emigrant's suitcase and the man takes up Christ's cross. The drama ends with the final sacrifice.
  • 9 August: Wheat harvest festival in costume.

Where to stay

  • Hotel Di Falco.

Genealogy and Links