The dramatically perched hilltown of CapestranoCapestrano is a stunningly picturesque town of only 960 people in the province of L’Aquila in the Abruzzo region. It encapsulates everything I love about small town Italy. The people there are so friendly, especially to visitors who are few and far between. Hospitality, warmth and time is something they have in abundance. They make you feel so welcome and are proud to show off their area. It has wonderful restaurants, a fabulous gelateria and café called Bar Tagliente in the main piazza, churches, a monastery, an abbey, a gorgeous lake and a beautiful lofty towered castle atop the hill overlooking the town! It is set in a perfect location, 40km west of Chieti, on the edge of the Gran Sasso National Park, 160km east of Rome and only a 25 minute drive from the Adriatic coast.
Wide angle view of Capestrano
Photo credit: Giuliano Bianchini - Flickr
From its elevated position, this dramatically perched hilltown, 500m above sea level, gives spectacular views down the striking Tirino valley, dotted with aged olive and almond trees. The town is known not only for the Capestrano Warrior, but also for being the birthplace of the famous Franciscan monk Saint John of Capestrano (1386-1456) after whom the town was named. Incidentally, the town is twinned with San Juan Capistrano in California. (They spell it a little differently). In walking distance from the pretty main piazza is the magnificent monastery of St Francis erected by Saint John of Capestrano dating back to 1400.
Statue of St John of Capestrano and frescoes in the cloister
In the vicinity of Capestrano you can also visit the charming Romanesque church of San Pietro ad Oratorium (1100) and admire the sparkling, clear waters of pretty Lago di Capo d’Acqua.
Recommended restaurants in the area are: Ristorante San Giovanni in the main Piazza del Mercato and in the nearby village of Preciano, Ristorante La Sorgente, Via Presciani, 36 (which serves trout and freshwater shrimp from the Tirino River).
*Update: For a more detailed and interesting account of Piccolomini Castle and its history have a look at Tatiana's post on her Italian Slow Walks blog - a beautiful blog with wonderful photos and descriptions of special places in Abruzzo.
** Another interesting post about Capestrano with great photos can be found on Bodach's excellent blog About Abruzzo.
My other post about Capestrano: Mid-August Lunch in Capestrano
Anyone who is fascinated by art, history, architecture, beautiful landscape, regional foods and folk traditions will love this idyllic town of Capestrano! To end, here is a little slideshow that I made of the town:
How to get to Capestrano:
By Bus: ARPA L'Aquila/Pescara, (only a few times during the day)
By Car: A24, exit L'Aquila, or A25, exit Bussi, then SS 17 L'Aquila-Pescara