You may wish to see an introductory page to this section first.
The beach in the Castellammare district of today's Pescara
The Adriatic, which we were fast approaching, and which might have relieved the dullness of the prospect, is not visible, in consequence of the extreme flatness of the intervening surface, till within a mile of the town of Pescara itself; but a low range of hills on the left of the river, running back from the shore, and covered with villas, woods, and cultivation, present an agreeable picture as well as a contrast to the general view. Among them is situated a village called Castellamare, which, like its more celebrated namesake in the vicinity of Naples, is much frequented in the summer for the convenience of sea-bathing, and the benefit of a cool and healthy air.
Keppel Richard Craven - Excursions in the Abruzzi and northern provinces of Naples - 1838
August 1st, 1843. K., wishing to see Pescara, set off at sun-rise in a caratella (a one horse two wheeled public carriage) but I, having a mania for walking, followed on foot; a choice I repented of before reaching the end of eight long miles on a dusty uninteresting road. Pescara, a most dull little town, stands at the mouth of its namesake river; and, though now so mean a place, was formerly a fortress of importance, and is supposed to stand on the site of the ancient Aternum of the Vestini. (..) After bathing in the Adriatic, and deciding-on having explored its environs -that Pescara was to us utterly unprofitable, saving a distant view of the Gran Sasso, in combination with its long walls, and its flat, sandy foreground, we returned in our caratella to Chieti.
Edward Lear - Illustrated Excursions in Italy - 1846
Abruzzo's largest city is a heavily developed seaside resort, with one of the biggest marinas on the Adriatic. The city was heavily bombed during WWII, reducing much of the centre to rubble. It's a lively place with an animated seafront, especially in summer, but unless you're coming for the 16km of sandy beaches, there's no great reason to hang around. A couple of mildly diverting museums and some fresh-from-the-Adriatic seafood restaurants could fill a lazy half-day.
2023 Lonely Planet Guide
Plan of the Fortress of Pescara; it is shown also in the image used as background for this page; it is very similar to that of Peschiera, a Venetian fortress on the River Mincio
Except the steeple of its church, no part of Pescara is visible from the exterior of the fortifications, which inclose it in a perfect square, parallel to the river on one side, and to the sea on the other. These are as strong as the situation and the rules of art could make them in the time of Charles V, the date of their completion. Craven
Pescara is a fortified town of the second class, at the mouth of the river of the same name, which is called the Aterno from its source to Popoli. It is a dull and miserable place, situated in an unhealthy flat, heavily afflicted with malaria. It owes its importance wholly to its being a military station, and its population does not exceed 2500 souls. The fortress was built by Charles V.
John Murray - A Handbook for Travellers in Southern Italy - 1853
The fortress at Pescara was part of a series of fortifications built by Emperor Charles V to defend Abruzzo which included an imposing fortress at L'Aquila.
The river itself, or at least that part of it which adjoins the town, runs within the line of the outworks; and an inner gate opens from the quay to the inhabited part just facing the ferry, which crosses the Pescara, and unites the road from Popoli to that of the Roman frontier. As high as this point the stream is navigable, and affords safe anchorage to vessels of small tonnage; twenty of which, chiefly from the inferior harbours on the Adriatic coast, were moored near the quay. Craven
The development of modern Pescara was greatly favoured by the construction of a railway line from Ancona to Bari along the Adriatic coast which began in 1862 and of another railway line from Pescara to Sulmona and Rome which began in 1871. In 1927 Castellammare and Pescara were united into one municipality which soon became the most important town of Abruzzo, with a population of more than 100,000 inhabitants.
Pescara would undoubtedly never have claimed the appellation of a town, were it not for its fortifications and the addition of a garrison of about two hundred men to the four hundred which form its population. These are distributed in small houses of mean but uniform construction, bordering wide and straight streets laid out on a regular plan, but bearing the most desolate aspect of poverty and depopulation. The air is considered so unhealthy, that this circumstance alone renders a residence at Pescara an object of terror to all military men. Craven
In the days of the Roman republic this estuary was illustrated by the existence of a considerable town, which, from it had been named Aternum, and entirely covered the site of the modern Pescara; with this difference, that it likewise extended to the opposite bank of the river, to which it was united by a bridge. It belonged to the Frentani, occupying the district to the south-east, and formed indeed their boundary with the neighbouring Vestini. (..) It retained its original appellation in the infancy of Christianity, when it was very early dignified with an episcopal see. Its present name was introduced by the Lombards in its original form of Piscaria, probably from its maritime situation; which ought to have secured to it at a more remote period the station which it seems to have attained much later, when, under a military point of view, as a stronghold and one of the keys of the kingdom, it attracted the notice of the government.
An extensive (if slightly dated) display of Abruzzo culture that squeezes rather a lot into 13 interconnecting rooms, covering the Bronze Age to the Risorgimento and beyond. The presentation is, at times, a little cluttered. But there's a lot of history backed up by exhibits of a more folkloric bent (including numerous costumes). Most illuminating is the little-told story of Abruzzo's Italic shepherd warriors. Lonely Planet
1949 inscription celebrating Ferrante Francesco d'Avalos
It then became a fortress, and, as such, was frequently besieged and taken; but can scarcely be said to have gained any celebrity but that of giving its title to one of the most renowned generals of Charles V., Ferrante Francesco d'Avalos, whose limited course of existence was crowned by every distinction belonging to military glory.
His widow, the celebrated Vittoria Colonna (daughter of Fabrizio I Colonna, Duke of Tagliacozzo and many other fiefdoms), derived, perhaps, as much renown from her union with so famed a warrior, as from those virtues, talents, and powers, which called forth for nearly half a century the homage of every individual who advanced any pretensions to learning and genius. Craven
When the prime mover of many sighs
Its modern associations of interest may be summed up shortly: it recalls the death of the celebrated commander Sforza, who was drowned while crossing the river in 1423; and it gave the title of Marchese di Pescara to D'Avalos, the husband of Vittoria Colonna. Lear
But in no other age, for certain, has it been possible to see this better than in our own, wherein women have won the highest fame not only in the study of letters - as has been done by Signora Vittoria del Vasto, (..) and a hundred others, all most learned as well in the vulgar tongue as in the Latin and the Greek - but also in every other faculty.
Giorgio Vasari - Lives of the most eminent painters, sculptors & architects - transl. by Gaston Du C. De Vere
Vasari refers to Signora Vittoria del Vasto, i.e. Vittoria Colonna, a close friend of Michelangelo. Il Vasto is a port south of Pescara.
To Vittoria Colonna
Heaven took through death from out her earthly place,
Nature, that never made so fair a face,
Remained ashamed, and tears were in all eyes.
O fate, unheeding my impassioned cries!
O hopes fallacious! O thou spirit of grace,
Where art thou now? Earth holds in its embrace
Thy lovely limbs, thy holy thoughts the skies.
Vainly did cruel death attempt to stay
The rumor of thy virtuous renown,
That Lethe's waters could not wash away!
A thousand leaves, since he hath stricken thee down,
Speak of thee, not to thee could Heaven convey,
Except through death, a refuge and a crown.
Michelangelo - translated into English by H.W. Longfellow
When the prime mover of many sighs
Monument to the Italian patriots who died in the prison ("Bagno") inside the fortress in 1848-1860
I found a miserable inn, devoid of the slight necessaries which I had hitherto met with, even in places proverbial for such deficiencies. A general scarcity of vegetables, milk, and even fish, wine of the worst quality, and water barely drinkable, (the Pescara furnishing the only supply,) rendered half a day's sojourn in so dull and gloomy a spot a matter of considerable irksomeness. (..) The inmates of the inn, chiefly females, were however courteous and attentive; a disposition which shone through the languid listlessness which peculiarly marks the habits and manner of all persons who have repeatedly suffered from malaria fevers, in the same degree as the faded remains of a brilliant complexion could still be traced through the clayey hue imparted by that disease. Craven
When Craven visited Pescara part of the fortress was already a prison, especially meant for those who opposed the government of the Bourbon Kings of the Two Sicilies. In 1848 King Ferdinand II first granted a Constitution and then suspended it and jailed those who supported the Italian Unity.
Former prison which houses some memories of the early period of the Italian presence at Pescara
90 3/4 M. Castellammare Adriatico (*Rail. Restaurant;
Globo; Milano; Leon d'Oro), with 4976 inhab., junction for the
line to Rome, Avezzano, and Sulmona is much frequented for its excellent bathing-beach, in view of the Gran Sasso
and Maiella. - The train next crosses the Pescara river.
92 M. Pescara (Gr.-Hot. Pescara, good, Alb. Risorgimento,
both opposite the station), a town with 3631 inhab., is situated in
an unhealthy plain. On the S., near a beautiful "pineta", are sea-baths.
Be silent. At the edge
Karl Baedeker - Italy; handbook for travellers - 1912
Today Pescara is known as the birthplace of Gabriele D'Annunzio, who occupied a prominent place in Italian literature from 1889 to 1910 and later political life from 1914 to 1924. He dedicated one of his finest poem to the pinewood of his town.
The Rain in the Pinewood
of the wood I do not hear
the human words you say;
I hear newer words
spoken by droplets and leaves
far away. (..)
Translation by Alessandro Baruffi
Be silent. At the edge
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 Town
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)