Pacentro: A Medieval Abruzzo Treasure

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In the heart of the province of L’Aquila, in Abruzzo, a few kilometers from Sulmona, lies Pacentro, a charming medieval village that captivates all its visitors with its perfectly preserved historic center and its rich natural heritage.

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With a population of about 1,100 inhabitants and located at almost 700 meters (about 2296 feet) above sea level, Pacentro is an oasis of tranquility and authenticity in the Majella National Park.

Pacentro, included in the prestigious “Club of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy“, boasts an ancient history dating back to the 8th century when it came under the control of the monastery of San Vincenzo al Volturno.

The symbol of the town is the majestic Castle of Pacentro, one of the best-preserved fortifications in Abruzzo, dating back to the 11th century and subsequently expanded and renovated over the centuries.

Each year, Pacentro comes alive with historical reenactments during the third week of August, transporting visitors back to the year 1450, the era of the Princes of Caldora.

The Caldorians event commemorates the town’s rich history, featuring bonfires, knighting ceremonies, battles, duels, and even witch trials, all reminiscent of Pacentro’s past.

The highlight is a grand historical parade, where the streets are transformed into fifteenth-century scenes, complete with dozens of participants adorned in period costumes.

In contrast, the first Sunday of September brings the “Gypsy Race,” a tradition celebrating those who walk barefoot.

This event, held during the Madonna of Loreto festivities, symbolizes a pilgrimage to the sanctuary, uniting communities in a shared cultural experience.

The economy of Pacentro is closely linked to tourism, both winter and summer, thanks to its privileged location near the Maiella and its national park.

Here, nature lovers can enjoy breathtaking hikes, ziplining, and walks through lush forests and crystalline springs.

From an architectural point of view, Pacentro offers a real spectacle for the eyes, with its narrow streets flanked by ancient churches, stone houses, and prestigious palaces.

Among the attractions not to be missed, in addition to the Castle of Pacentro, there are the Mother Church with its imposing facade and the monumental fountain in front of it.

As for gastronomy, Pacentro does not disappoint.

The local cuisine, based on fresh and genuine products, offers delicious traditional dishes such as maccheroni alla chitarra with sauce and lamb meatballs, boiled sheep with vegetables, gnocchi with sheep sauce, and finally “polta“, which has become the symbol of the culinary festival.

The polta is the typical dish of the village made with beans, potatoes, and cabbage sautéed in oil with garlic, oil, and chili pepper.

In mid-August there is a festival in honor of this delicacy: the Sagra della Polta, ideal for tasting it and getting to know Pacentro.

In Pacentro, artistic craftsmanship boasts a secular tradition and consists of the processing of the white stone of the Maiella, terracotta figurines for the nativity scene, crochet lace, and Abruzzese women’s costumes.

The climate of Pacentro offers mild summers and snowy winters.

The average summer temperatures range from 20-25°C (68-77°F), while during winter temperatures can drop to 0°C (32°F) and even below.

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