Pettorano sul Gizio, Province of L'Aquila, Abruzzo

Pettorano rises along the southern boundary of the Peligna Valley along the road connecting Sulmona to the Cinque Miglia plateau, between the Gizio and Riaccio rivers. Thanks to the rivers, many mills and extravirgin oil plants could rise in the place, and the economy of the area came to be based on coppersmithery, spinning and weaving. The river Gizio forms spectacular gorges amid the high green mountains.


  • Altitude: 625 m a.s.l
  • Distance from L'Aquila: 90 km
  • Population: ca. 1300 inhabitants
  • Postal code: 67034
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 0864
  • How to reach it: by road, Autoroute A 25 from Rome: exit Sulmona-Pratola Peligna, then S.S. 17 towards Roccaraso for about 20 km; bus and trains, from Sulmona and Castel di Sangro.

History - Antiquity

Archeological findings in the area of Mount Genzana show that the area was already inhabited since paleolithic times, mostly by hunters, who later turned into farmers and shepherds and therefore settled permanently in the area. In the Iron Age (VI - V centuries B.C.) there was a flourishing fortified settlement in Monte Mitra. In the area called Vallelarga there are remains of Roman settlements, and a unique epigraphic fragment of the Edictum de pretiis rerum venalium of 301 A.D: by emperor Diocletianus, the only Greek specimen found in the Western area, is still kept in a house in Pettorano.

History - the Middle Ages

In medieval times the name Pectoranum started to appear in documents. In Norman times the castle of Pettorano was the seat of a large fiefdom occupying the whole Gizio Valley as far as Piano delle Cinquemiglia and the Sangro river, and rose in importance thanks to its strategic position at the entrance of the Peligna Valley. From 1310 to mid-XVIII century the territory was under the rule of the important Cantelmo family, who gave great figures to the history of Southern Italy.

History - Modern Times

The 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were periods of economic and cultural splendor, still visible in the many palaces built at the time, such as Palazzo Croce, Palazzo Gravina, the Castaldina and Palazzo Vitto-Massei. Important lawyers, notaries and doctors made Pettorano a privileged destination for the populations of the surrounding centres. In the XIX century a great Abruzzese figure, notary Pietro De Stephanis, provided landmark studies in the history of the district and in 1865, and while he was Mayor abolished the death penalty.
Starting from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the most important event maybe was the massive emigration to South and Nrth America: in the early XX century Pettorano was, after Sulmona and Pratola, the largest centre in the Peligna Valley, with a population of over 5000 inhabitants, five times the present numbers.

What to see

  • The medieval castle, consisting of a pentagonal tower around which in the XVI century the fortified borough was built, with six doors that opened in the walls and two more circular towers, the castle gradually lost its original military function and became a commercial point.
  • The Palazzo Ducale, for centuries the seat of the Cantelmo family, now the seat of the Townhall, with a stone fountain in the courtyard and, on the facade, an ancient sunclock.
  • The Piazza Rosario Zannelli, with a fine XVI century fountain.
  • The church of San Dioniso, XVIII century, with a fine monumental fountain with the statues of Amphitrites and Neptune.
  • The "Riserva Naturale Regionale Monte Genzana e Alto Gizio", an important wildlife corridor between the Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo and Parco Nazionale della Majella, includes the urban centre of Pettorano within the protected area.

Events & Festivities

  • 1 January: "Serenata di Capodanno", with music all over Pettorano
  • Carnival - the "Testamento di Carnevale"
  • 12-13 July, Feast of Santa Margherita and San Benigno
  • July: Emigrants' festival
  • Last Sunday in December: Sagra della polenta rognosa, the typical dish of the charcoal makers of Pettorano was the "polenta rognosa", white and seasoned with crushed sausages. The carbonari used to work long hours in the cold, open air, used to consume this highly caloric dish almost every day. A museum is under construction on the charcoal workers in the natural oasis of Monte Genzana - Alto Gizio. The project was introduced in 2001 in the Cantelmo Castle by mayor Feliciano Marzuolo, the reserve president Angelo Di Matteo, the president of the Comunità montana, Antonio Carrara, and the "mind" behind the museum, prof. Vincenzo Battista.
  • In the year 2000 in the Cantelmo castle the "scuola di arte floreale" was inaugurated, a section of the prestigious Paris school. The branch in Pettorano is the second opened in Italy, the other one being in Rome. Courses for amateur and professionals.

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