L'Aquila: what to see, where to eat and what to do in the evening

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Martí Micolau
@martimicolau
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

L'Aquila is one of the most important cities in Central Italy. Famous university center, rich in history and natural beauty, L'Aquila went through some bad times in 2009, when the earthquake almost destroyed it. The city, however, has not given up and day after day still tries to return to its former glory. Located in the Aterno valley, it is one of the highest and coldest capitals in Italy, and also one of the most evocative. Surrounded by numerous hamlets, which dot the surrounding mountains, it deserves at least one visit during the year to enjoy all its beauties. We have tried, indicating 10 things to see in this beautiful city.



Index

  1. 10 things to see in L'Aquila in a weekend
  2. What to see in L'Aquila in one day: recommended itinerary
  3. Where to eat in L'Aquila: the best restaurants
  4. What to do in the evening: the nightlife areas and the best clubs in L'Aquila
  5. Plan your stay in L'Aquila: info and useful tips
  6. User questions and comments

10 things to see in L'Aquila in a weekend

1 - Basilica of Collemaggio and Parco del Sole

Famous for its facade, the greatest example of Abruzzo art, the Collemaggio Basilica it was built in the second half of the 5th century, although it has been remodeled for centuries with restorations, modifications and decorations. The Basilica was founded by San Pietro Celestino, who rests here today. Not even 28 minutes walk from the Basilica is the Parco del Sole, set up in the twentieth century as an extension of the gardens of the Villa Comunale. Inside, various events are held, such as the Celestinian Forgiveness, which is held every year on 29 and August.



  • the Basilica is 350 meters from the Bus terminal, which can be reached in 4 minutes on foot. From the train station it is 2,2 km away, reachable in 33 minutes by car - Get directions
  • every day, 9: 00-12: 30 and 15: 30-18: 00
  • Free

2 - Fountain of the 99 spouts

La Fountain of the 99 spouts is one of the most famous places in all of L'Aquila. Located in the Riviera area, one of the oldest in the historic center, the fountain is made up of 93 stone masks and 6 "faceless" spouts, from which water always comes out. According to legend, the spouts positioned on 3 sides symbolize the 99 castles that founded L'Aquila in the th century.

  • the Fountain is 1,9 km from the Bus terminal, which can be reached in 26 minutes by car. From the train station it is 250 meters away, a 3-minute walk - Get directions
  • always accessible
  • free

3 - National Museum of Abruzzo

Il National Museum of Abruzzo, Also known as MunDa, is the most important museum in the whole region. Once located inside the Spanish Fort, it has now been moved to the former slaughterhouse of the city, a stone's throw from the 99 Cannelle fountain. Among the works inside, we mention the sculpture of the Madonna with Child, the works of Andrea de Litio and the portraits of San Bernardino da Siena and Giacinto Brandi.


  • MunDa is 2,00 km from the Bus terminal, which can be reached in 27 minutes by car. From the train station it is 400 meters away, a 5-minute walk - Get directions
  • Tue-Sun 8: 30-19: 00
  • € 4,00 inside, € 2,00 reduced

4 - Forte Spagnolo and Renzo Piano Auditorium

Located on the highest point of the city, the Strong Spanish it was designed by Pirro Aloisio Scrivà in 1534. With its square plan surrounded by 4 bastions, one in each corner, the Fort is one of the best preserved military forts. Like any self-respecting Fort, this also included a moat and a drawbridge, which partially retreated, then destroyed in 1883 and replaced by the current stone bridge. In the same area of ​​the Spanish Fort there is also the Renzo Piano Auditorium, a project strongly desired by the architect in 2009, following the earthquake. Initially the idea was to renovate the existing auditorium, but it has turned into the construction of a new place dedicated to hosting events of all kinds.


  • the Fort is about 1,3 km from the Bus Terminal which can be reached in 23 minutes on foot. From the train station, it is 2 km away, which can be covered in 31 minutes on foot, or 3,6 km in 12 minutes by car. - Get directions
  • closed to the public for renovation
  • currently not open to visitors

5 - Cathedral of San Massimo

Dating back to the thirteenth century, the Cathedral of San Massimo is the cathedral of the city, and a symbol of its history. Located in the heart of the historic center of the city, in front of the famous Piazza Duomo, it was destroyed by the earthquake of 1703 first, and by that of 2009. Restored for the first time in 1700, even if the elevation was completed only in 1800, interior baroque decorations, side chapels, a staircase and the sepulcher of Agnifili by Silvestro dell'Aquila. Unfortunately the church is not yet open to the public due to the renovations.


  • the cathedral is 750 meters from the Collemaggio Bus Terminal, which can be reached in 12 minutes on foot. From the railway station it is 1,3 km away, accessible in 21 minutes on foot - Get directions
  • currently the church cannot be visited
  • free

6 - Basilica of San Bernardino

Located in the city center, it was built between 1454 and 1427. Dedicated to San Bernardino da Siena, who according to legend reunited the two factions that faced each other in the city in 1444, was destroyed by the earthquake of 1700 and then rebuilt in style baroque. As for the Cathedral, the Basilica of San Bernardino also suffered damage during the 2009 earthquake: the bell tower and the apse were especially affected. However, its façade, built under the inspiration of Michelangelo's Florentine church of San Lorenzo, is of particular interest.


  • the Basilica is 700 meters from Collemaggio Bus Terminal, which can be reached in 4 minutes on foot. From the train station it is 1,6 km, 25 minutes on foot, or 3,4 km, 13 minutes by car - Get directions
  • Every day from 6: 30 to 19: 00
  • free

7 - Luminous Fountain

Of particular interest is the Luminous Fountain, built in 1934 by Nicola d'Antino as a happy conclusion to the urban planning of the city. Located in the center of Piazza Battaglione Alpini, the fountain looks like a basin in which two female nudes made of bronze stand out, supporting the famous Abruzzo basin. Perhaps not of particular historical importance, but it is much appreciated for the panorama that can be enjoyed from here, towards Gran Sasso.

  • the fountain is about 1,2 km from the Bus Terminal, which can be reached in 17 minutes on foot. The train station is 1,7 km away, which can be covered in 27 minutes on foot, or 3,3 km, which can be covered in 13 minutes by car - Get directions
  • always visit
  • free

8 - Stiffe Caves

The Stiffe Caves are located at the point where the river, after an underground stretch, returns outside. They are one of the greatest examples of erosion and corrosion phenomena due to water, which in these caves has created spectacular plays of colors. These caves, which are part of the Sirente-Velino regional natural park, have been one of the major attractions of the area since 1991, when they were made accessible to the public. To date, the Stiffe cave complex, about 1 km long, still has areas that are partially unexplored.

  • the caves are 20,6 km from L'Aquila, reachable in 30 minutes by car - Get directions
  • every day from 10:00 to 17:00 from October 16 to March 31. From April 1st to October 15th from 10am to 00pm
  • € 10,00 full, € 8,50 reduced, € 7,50 for groups, free for children under 6 years and for handicapped and disabled people at 100%

9 - Castle of Rocca Calascio

Rocca Calascio Castle is one of the most famous attractions in all of Abruzzo. Become famous for being the location of the film Ladyhawke, as well as having hosted the filming of La Piovra, The Name of the Rose and The American, the castle of Rocca Calascio is now in ruins due to the earthquake of 1703 and the abandonment of the village happened until the twentieth century, but still retains all its charm. Perched on the mountains surrounding the town of Calascio, at 1.450 meters above sea level, it was most likely built by order of King Ruggero d'Altavilla between 1140 and 1239, the year in which it was first attested.

  • the castle is 40 km from L'Aquila, accessible in 51 minutes by car - Get directions
  • always open
  • free

10 - Lake of Sinizzo

Lake Sinizzo, located in the area of ​​San Demetrio ne 'Clothes, in the middle of the Aterno Valley, comes from two sources of drinking and crystalline water. Surrounded by willows and oaks, this volcanic lake is much loved by all nature lovers thanks to its unspoiled nature. Inhabited by pike, trout and carp, it offers the opportunity to fish and even take a bath on hot summer days. Like many other buildings, the lake was also a victim of the 2009 earthquake, which caused deep cracks in its banks, which also threatened to make the lake disappear. Fortunately, today the situation has returned thanks to consolidation work.

  • the lake is 20,9 km from L'Aquila, accessible in 28 minutes by car - Get directions
  • always accessible
  • free, € 5,00 for parking

What to see in L'Aquila in one day: recommended itinerary

L'Aquila can be visited in just one day, not for lack of attractions, but because many of these are unfortunately still closed following the 2009 earthquake. However, this does not mean that the historic center of the city is one of the most characteristic of all. central Italy. To visit it properly, try to follow our itinerary.

Your day starts from the Collemaggio Bus Terminal (also ideal as a parking lot for those arriving by car), a stone's throw from the Basilica of Collamaggio. After visiting the th century structure you can have breakfast at the Bar Chalet della Villa, one of the historic bars in the city, famous for its home-grown food. From here you can proceed on Corso Federico II to the Bank of Italy and turn left on Piazza Duomo, to see the majestic Cathedral of San Massimo, located right at the end of the square. To reach the Basilica of San Bernardino, the next stage, just go back on Corso Federico II up to the Quattro Cantoni and turn right along Via S. Bernardino until you reach the church.

After having lunch at Il Primo Papavero, in the immediate vicinity of the church of San Bernardino, head to Corso Vittorio Emanuele up to Strong Spanish, an ancient fortress that housed the museum with the famous mammoth, now closed for renovation. From there it will be easy, after having also visited Renzo Piano's Auditorium, to see the Luminous Fountain, which marks the end of the historic city center and Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Finally go to the National Museum of Abruzzo, with paintings, wooden sculptures and archaeological finds, now housed in the former municipal slaughterhouse. From here you can reach the Fountain of the 99 Spouts, about 200 meters away and then stop for dinner in the nearby restaurant Re Gatto.

One day itinerary at a glance

  1. Breakfast at the Villa's Chalet Bar
  2. Basilica of Santa Maria di Colle Maggio - opening hours: every day, 9: 00-12: 30 and 15: 30-18: 00 - ticket price: free
  3. Cathedral of San Massimo and Piazza Duomo - not open to visitors - ticket price: free
  4. Basilica of San Bernardino - opening hours: from 6:30 to 19:00 - ticket price: free
  5. Lunch at Il Primo Papavero
  6. Forte Spagnolo - opening hours: closed to the public for renovation - ticket price: not open to visitors
  7. Fontana Luminosa - opening hours: always open - ticket price: free
  8. National Museum of Abruzzo - opening hours: Tue-Sun 8:30 / 19:00 - ticket price: € 4,00 inside, € 2,00 reduced
  9. Fontana delle 99 spouts - opening hours: always open - ticket price: free
  10. Dinner at King Cat

Where to eat in L'Aquila: the best restaurants

  1. The first poppy: offers a cuisine that mixes tradition and innovation, with its revisited dishes. Point of pride is the bread, rigorously prepared by them.
    Average price per person: € 25,00
    Address and contacts: via San Bernardino, 9 (Get directions) / tel: 3409934291
  2. Trattoria Fore le Mura da Franchino: specialist in pasta and meat cooking, with generous portions. Don't miss the arrosticini.
    Average price per person: € 20,00
    Address and contacts: via Porta del Colle, 20 (Get directions) / tel: 0862606740
  3. Cat King: its strengths are homemade pasta and local products such as mushrooms and truffles
    Average price per person: € 25,00
    Address and contacts: via Madonna del Ponte, 2 (Get directions) / tel: 3914255722

What to do in the evening: the nightlife areas and the best clubs in L'Aquila

The most fervent area is the historic center. Although, due to the low temperatures at night, going out to clubs in the evening is not very common in L'Aquila. Most of the clubs open until late at night are pubs with live music. In fact, in the city there are several options that offer this possibility, combined with excellent foods generally based on meat.

The best pubs, clubs and discos

  • Public Enemy: inspired by prohibition, with soft lights, craft beers, cocktails and first choice burgers / Address: via Giuseppe Garibaldi, 27 (Get directions) / Facebook page
  • Monthy's Irish Pub: Irish atmosphere, with selected beers and live music / Address: via Giuseppe Garibaldi, 35 (Get directions) / Facebook page
  • All Beers: large choice of beers in a comfortable place, with cheap prices / Address: viale Croce Rossa, 40 (Get directions) / Facebook page

Plan your stay in L'Aquila: info and useful tips

  • the best way is to use the FlixBus or TUA buses, the regional transport company. It takes too long by train. Buses depart from all major cities and tickets cost around € 10,00 each way. From Rome Tiburtina, for example, it takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes. The closest airports are those of Pescara and Rome
  • Getting around: the historic center is not open to traffic, and therefore the best way is to visit it on foot. To reach the most distant places, it is recommended to use your own vehicle, since the buses of the regional company only allow you to get closer to the various destinations.
  • Where to park: you can park your car just outside the historic center, about 100 meters from the area then closed to traffic. Another alternative is to take advantage of the car parks located near the Fontana Luminosa and near the churches of S. Bernardino and Collemaggio.
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 45,00 per room -
  • What to see in the surroundings: we mention Roio Poggio, with its church-convent which miraculously survived the earthquake of 2009, the monastery of Santo Spirito ad Ocre, declared a national monument. Santo Stefano di Sessanio, belonging to the club of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Among the things not to be missed there is also the Gran Sasso National Park, which includes, in addition to the Gran Sasso massif, the chain of the Monti della Laga, the Val Fondillo, the Lake of Barrea with the villages of Barrea, Villetta Barrea and Civitella Alfedena, and the more distant Opi, Ortona dei Marsi, Pescasseroli and Alfedena.

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