L'Aquila is the capital of the province of the same name in the region of Abruzzo in Italy and is located in the northern part of the province. It is a small, pleasant city that is surrounded by high mountains. The city was established by the German Emperor Corrado IV in 1254. According to legend, the town gathered the population from 99 local villages into the one city. Each group of villagers in-turn created their own church, resulting in a city of 99 churches and squares.
L'Aquila (Italian for "the Eagle") has come to tragic fame due to a 2009 earthquake but it is also a charming town with many historic buildings and home to the Gran Sasso National Laboratory, one of the biggest underground works of any kind in the world. The town was also the last home of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, an early gay rights activist who died here and is buried at the local cemetery, making the town something of a "gay pilgrimage" site.
You can travel by car taking (the motorway connecting Rome and Teramo) that passes to the north of the city. L'Aquila can also be reached by other, smaller provincial highways.
There is an intercity bus (pullman) that travels directly from the Rome Tiburtina Railway Station to the main bus terminal found at the northern end of the city.
- 1 L'Aquila railway station. L'Aquila is on a minor but very scenic line from Perugia via Terni to Sulmona.
The city has no airport so it is usually most convenient to fly to either the Ciampino or Fiumicino airports in Rome before traveling on to L'Aquila.
L'Aquila is small enough that it is quite easy to walk from one end to the other, but the station and the fountain of 99 are down a considerable hill from the city so you might prefer to ride a local bus up.
There are at least six churches to visit including the Duomo (the city’s main church), located on the Piazza del Duomo, and Santa Maria di Collemaggio (located outside the city walls), a Templar church with beautiful rose windows.. The final confrontation scene in the move Ladyhawke was filmed in this church.
- 1 L'Aquila Cathedral.
- 2 Basilica of San Bernardino, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 3 Santa Maria di Collemaggio.
- 4 Santa Giusta.
- 5 San Silvestro.
Other places to see include the Museo Nazionale d'Abruzzo, which is located in the sixteenth century Castello located in the north end of the city. The castle was designed by the Spanish architect "Don Pirro Aloisio Escriva" and is one of the most impressive castles in central Italy and possibly one of the earliest types of this type constructed. The Museo Nazionale d'Abruzzo has several different sections including paintings, Roman finds, but its most famous feature is the skeleton of a mammoth that was found in the local area.
- 1 Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso.
- 6 Forte Spagnolo.
- 7 Castle of Rocca Calascio.
Finally, there is the Fontana delle 99 Cannelle, which is located outside the western walls. The fountain has 99 fountains that represent the 99 churches that were originally in the city.
Besides the sites inside L'Aquila, there are many places to visit outside of the city including the churches of San Pelligrino and Santa Maria dell'Assunta in Bominaco, the medieval castle at Calascio, and the Gran Sasso National Park. In wintertime, Because of the nearby mountains there are several ski resorts throughout the region. Many of these skiers stay in L’Aquila which, could cause problems finding a hotel room in the winter season.
There is also a daily market that is held each day (except Sunday) in the Piazza del Doumo. There you can find a wide variety of goods including clothing on sale by small vendors. The market is open from 8AM-2PM.
- La Meta, Via della Pineta, Poggio Roio, ☏ +39 0862 602315. A very good low-budget restaurant situated near the Engineering department of the University of L'Aquila. It is a self-service and a complete meal (two dishes and tab-water) costs about 10 euro.
- La Matriciana, Via dell'Arcivescovado, 5/A, ☏ +39 0862 26065. A delicious and charming restaurant situated just next to the Piazza Duomo, in the very center of L'Aquila. Be aware, however, that like many similar establishments they will not give you a written menu (there is one partly hidden near the door). Instead, the waiter will come to you and tell you very quickly and in Italian what dishes they have, and you will choose from that oral list. A complete meal (two dishes and a glass of wine) costs around 20 euro.
- L'Antico Borgo, Piazza S. Vito, 1. A delicious restaurant situated just next to the Fontana delle 99 Cannelle. This restaurant is slightly more expensive than the average, but of excellent quality.
- La Compagnia del Viaggiatore, Loc Cansatessa 6 L, ☏ +39 0862 313 627, email@example.com. The complex consists of 3 modern buildings, 34 rooms, breakfast room, pizzeria, private parking, conference hall €50-100.
There are local buses to and from Pescara, Sulmona and Teramo. See ARPA for timetables.