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3 February 2002

The summaries in English were extracted from complete articles published on "Il Centro" and "Il Messaggero - Abruzzo edition".

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3 February 2002, Il Centro

S. Stefano di Sessanio and Calascio among the most beautiful boroughs in Italy
Journalist Romana Scopano writes about the two mountain villages turned into film sets. Twenty "jewels" of Abruzzo were included in the list of the most beautiful villages in Italy, a list drawn up by the ANCI in collaboration with the Touring club and the National Tourist Board. Of the 20 centers in Abruzzo listed, four became part of the association: Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Scanno, Pacentro and Pettorano sul Gizio, all in the province of L'Aquila. And it is from Santo Stefano di Sessanio that the journey begins to discover these jewels; beautiful in Italy. The "Little Tibet", the nickname of this splendid borough of 137 inhabitants, perched at 1250 meters high, on the edge of Campo Imperatore, 30 kilometers from L'Aquila, has preserved its Renaissance architecture intact over time: the crenellated tower, the houses leaning against the fortresses, the palaces with inner courtyards and family crest, the arched portals, the carved-stone windows. It is not by chance that it is often chosen for advertising spots and trailers: the latest production was by Rai, "La guerra è finita", with Alessandro Gassman. In Santo Stefano development means tourism; it is possible to stay in the rental rooms inside the historical centre. And who visitors cannot miss to taste the typical lentils.

A few kilometers away is Calascio, famous for its Rocca, which dates back to the year 1000, among the most peculiar castles high in the central-southern Apennines. Even this village is a must, included in the ANCI list. And here too, memorable movies were filmed, such as "Lady Hawk", or "Padre Pio". La Rocca today is totally abandoned: the population moved to Calascio, which counts about 300 inhabitants, has large religious complexes and preserves frescoes and paintings by Patini.

3 February 2002, Il Centro

The most beautiful boroughs and their works of art disredgarded - The list must be completed, by Gino Melchiorre
Jewel-villages to be protected and promoted. Fallasoso, the smallest in the Sangro-Aventino: 85 inhabitants in all. But in 1927 it had almost 1,000, when a decree of the Mussolini government incorporated it to the Municipality of Torricella Peligna. Today Fallascoso is almost intact, on the small spur facing the Aventino valley, across the Maiella. The village is dominated by an externally intact baronial palace of the Croce family (the cadet branch of philosopher Benedetto Croce), years ago purchased by a local farmer. At the bottom there is the little church of San Rinaldo, dating back to the 12th century, small but livened up by the villagers who return here in August. The war destroyed some houses, but spared the baronial palace from where a group of partisans (led by Domenico Troilo) kept the Germans at bay for a whole night.

A restored baronial palace and home to an interesting geopaleontological museum is in Palena, with its narrow streets and alleys that intersect in the town square. The church of the Rosary and that of San Rocco weere spared in WW2. But the war did not spare Gessopalena, whose medieval village seems to take a posthumous revenge showing visitors the wounds of an unprecedented violence, on the cracked chalky stone; here 2000 people lived, 4 churches, the seventeenth-century Persiani palace. In the central square of Terranova, the new part, is the imposing facade of Santa Maria dei Raccomandati which hides paintings and works of art ranging from 1300 to 1700.

From Terranova di Gessopalena we can proceed to Terravecchia di Fara San Martino, which can be reached by passing under a frescoed arch of the 17th century. The village is still inhabited by families of shepherds. In the main church of San Remigio, it is possible to admire an altarpiece by Tanzio Da Varallo ("Circumcision of Jesus") which pairs with an altar piece by the same Piedmontese artist, in Colledimezzo, "Madonna with Child"; Colledimezzo has some hundreds inhabitants. Ancient houses, stairways leading to the top of Mount Castellano, from which the Sangro valley and the Bomba lake can be admired.