You may wish to see an introductory page to this section first.
View of Montereale
October 6th, 1843. After mid-day I set off from L'Aquila to Montereale, as I wished to see the Amphitheatre of Amiternum and, if possible, to make an excursion either to Lionessa or Amatrice from Montereale, where a brother of Cav. Ricci of Rieti, to whom I had letters, resided. (..) After pursuing our road below Pizzoli and Barete, two thriving villages
profuse in scattered white villas, and having wound through a pass, we arrived in sight of some very prettily oak-wooded hills, and went through Marano, a town with something of the air of a Swiss village, whose wooden galleries were loaded with bright bunches of Indian corn exposed to dry. The branches of the Almond trees, which are plentifully cultivated hereabouts, are also similarly decorated.
Beyond this, though with an interval of more dreary road, Montereale appeared on a rather imposing hill.
Edward Lear - Illustrated Excursions in Italy - 1846
View towards the Gran Sasso
The pointed head of the Gran Sasso, which I recognised as an old friend, rose above the hills on its east side, while, looking westward, the solid wall of the mighty Terminillo or Lionessa mountain shut in the view. Lear
View northwards to the pass leading to Amatrice and Monti della Laga
October 1843. Montereale overlooks a semicircular plain, the mountain sides of which are studded with numerous little villages, near one of which, Mopolino, the Palazzo of Don Celestino Ricci gleamed forth with a welcome brightness in the setting sun, and I was glad when I had passed over the dull meadows betwixt it and Montereale, though, as a secluded plain, it is not wanting in character or beauty. (..)
October 9, 1843. I determined on leaving the Neapolitan dominions by way of the Marsica, postponing a visit to Leonessa and Amatrice to some future opportunity, so by sunrise I was on my way from Mopolino to Montereale. (..)
September 26th, 1844. I set out again for the Abruzzi, intending, during a stay of two months, to glean much from parts I had neglected, or had been unable to reach in former visits. (..)
October 3, 1844. We somehow struck into a path which led us to the Capuchin convent, and so to the suburbs of Montereale, whence the friendly Giudice Rizzi sent a guide with us over the quiet plain to Mopolino.(..)
October 5, 1844. To-day I set off at sunrise, with a guide, to Amatrice, intending to return to Mopolino after having explored those parts. Lear
We reached Catignano, the village near which Mopolino stands, we overtook Don Celestino Ricci, to whom I presented my letter, and was received with all possible cordiality. His villa, or palazzo, is a spacious country mansion, with garden-terraces after the true Italian mode, very pretty, though wanting in that nicety of order so necessary to our English ideas of taste and comfort. The mistress of the house, a lady-like and handsome person, usually called La Principessa, was one of the Pallavicini, and narrowly missed inheriting the great estates of that family near Rome, which for want of male heirs, have now become the property of the second son of the Rospigliosi. The interior of their house is comfortably, though not luxuriously, furnished; the bedroom allotted to me was ornamented with excellent prints from the works of Raffaelle, Thorwaldsden, &c., &c.; and the bright moon silvering the waters of a fountain just below my window, contributed to make it a very pleasant lodging. There was a late family supper, at which the three children of Don Celestino, and one of his brothers, were present. My host was very full of information and good-humour, and my new friends impressed me very favorably. Lear
Museo Archeologico Nazionale d'Abruzzo (MANDA) - Chieti: VIIIth century BC bronze brooch which was found near Pizzoli in the Vale of L'Aquila on the road between S. Vittorino (Amiternum) and Montereale
In antiquity the territory of Montereale was part of Picenum, a Roman region which included the Southern Marches and the province of Teramo in Abruzzo. It bordered on the western Vale of L'Aquila which was inhabited by the Sabines and an elaborate brooch found there most likely belonged to a Sabine prince. The depiction of a carriage, a domesticated stag and two dogs however suggests a link between the Sabines and the Praetutii, another tribe who lived in the province of Teramo (Interamnia Praetuttiorum) and practiced a limited pastoral nomadism. The term Abruzzo is a corruption of Praetuttiorum.
Torre Civica; its clock indicated the "Italian hour"
The town of Montereale is not of ancient date. It was one of the contemporaries of Aquila, and was frequently involved in quarrels with that turbulent city. In the fatal earthquake of January 14th, 1703, it fell entirely, and the surviving inhabitants founded dwellings, or retired to villas on the hill sides around the plain, which have now become each the centre of a village, while the mother-town of Montereale remains in a decayed condition, scarcely containing seven hundred inhabitants. Lear
The tower was built in the XIIIth century and it was most likely part of a small castle at the very top of the town which was abandoned and pulled down after the 1703 earthquake.
(left) Renaissance part of Palazzo Farnese along the main street; (right) portal; (inset) mask of one of the two capitals, similar to those which can be seen in Rome, e.g. at Palazzo Colonna di Sciarra
Montereale suffered extensive damage because of the earthquakes which struck L'Aquila in 2009 and Amatrice in 2016. Palazzo Farnese was occasionally one of the residences of Margaret of Austria, natural daughter of Emperor Charles V who, after the death of her two husbands, Alexander of Medici, and Octavio Farnese, was appointed governess of Abruzzo great portions of which had been granted to her and her descendants as personal property.
Portals of S. Maria Assunta: (left) XVth century, a detail is shown in the image used as background for this page; (right) XVIIIth century, along the main street
The parish church of historical Montereale was founded in the XVth century and partially redesigned after the 1703 earthquake. It was repaired after the 2009 earthquake, but the damage caused by the 2016 earthquake forced its closure.
(left) Palazzo Baiocco, opposite S. Maria Assunta; (right) side portal in Via Madonna delle Grazie which is decorated with some XIIth century elements
October 7-8, 1843. I lingered two days at Mopolino; although there was
very little variety in the quiet routine of domestic life, a good library of old Italian works, music, and the three merry little children, with their great white dog, Dragonazzo, were sufficiently amusing, and the hospitality of both host and hostess was very simple and charming. The Ricci, who possess a great part of the plain about Mopolino, have also a casino at Montereale, where they pass part of the vintage season. We visited the town, the shattered walls of which are of considerable extent; but at present this unfortunate place is reduced to a shade of its former prosperity. Lear
Andrea Baiocco was a XIXth century wealthy merchant of Montereale. A Baiocco shop at Montereale is popular for its bread baked in a wood fired oven.
Chiesa del Beato Andrea along the main street: (left) rear view; (right) portal
The church was attached to an Augustinian convent. In 1726, after the 1703 earthquake it was enlarged and dedicated to Andrea Artesi, a monk who was born near Montereale and who acquired a high reputation for his doctrinal knowledge. He passed away in 1479 at Montereale and he was buried in the church. After his death he was credited with many miracles and the church began to attract pilgrims. The body was shown to the faithful twice a year and on these occasions a fair was held. In 1764 he was beatified by Pope Clement XIII. The convent was closed in the 1970s.
The 2009 and 2016 earthquakes damaged the interior of the church, but the worship of Beato Andrea continues.
(left) Swamp at the foot of Montereale; (right) Museo Nazionale d'Abruzzo at L'Aquila: XIIIth century Madonna from S. Maria dei Pantani (Swamps), a church near the swamp; see a similar Madonna from the Vale of L'Aquila
Montereale was the home town of some XVIth century painters: Giacomo and Raffaele da Montereale were two brothers who specialized in painted terracotta cribs (see a work attributed to them at Leonessa). Francesco da Montereale was mainly active at L'Aquila (see two paintings attributed to him and a frescoed chapel at S. Bernardino).
Introductory page to this section
Atri - the Town
Atri - the Cathedral
Borgocollefegato and the Cicolano
Chieti - Roman memories
L'Aquila - the Vale
L'Aquila - Historical outline
L'Aquila - S. Maria di Collemaggio
L'Aquila - S. Bernardino
L'Aquila - Other churches
L'Aquila - Other monuments
Leonessa - The Churches
Luco and Trasacco
S. Benedetto dei Marsi and Pescina
XVIIIth century Sulmona
Sulmona: Easter Day Ceremony (La Madonna che scappa - The Fleeing Madonna)