Sulmona, the birthplace of Ovid, hidden in the heart of Abruzzo

Like any Mediterranean city, Sulmona is built around a large square, where some of its most remarkable monuments are accumulated. But this town in the Italian province of L’Aquila, which has only 25,000 inhabitants, has a very special aspect. From the center of Piazza Garibaldi, the imposing mountains of Abruzzo, snow-capped for much of the year, rise up in a magnificent setting that highlights the view of the aqueduct and the large open space resembling a racecourse, which are the main protagonists .monuments of the city.

A few steps from this central enclave stands the statue of its most famous son, the poet Ovid, considered the father of the Latin language, the writer of love and sorrow.

Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, in Sulmona,

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Although it contains the mortal remains of the saint after whom it is named, the Cathedral of San Pánfilo might go unnoticed by many travelers. It has been destroyed and rebuilt so many times that only a small Gothic portal bears witness to its age. The facade is the most banal. But the place is a good starting point for walking around this monumental city, very unknown even to most Italians.

However, in the center of the Italian peninsula, when we talk about confetti knows that reference is made to this village in Abruzzo. And it’s not about the tiny pieces of paper used to liven up parties. here the confetti This is a traditional sweet in the form of colored dragees (actually almonds dipped in sugar, like our dragees).

'Confetti' is a traditional candy in the form of colored dragees

Confetti is a traditional candy similar to sugared almonds, but dyed in bright colors

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The pastry chefs become authentic sculptors and with the confetti they form all sorts of figures. The most popular shaped bouquets of flowers, but there are also those that reproduce television characters like children’s favorite dolls. Buy a bunch of confetti Very colorful, it is one of the most rooted customs of the inhabitants of Sulmona and those who visit it.

You can leave this gentle procedure for the end of the excursion. First you have to go and see Fountain of Vecchio, Renaissance and which takes its name from the character that appears in an identification medallion, a bearded head of ancient appearance, although its identity is not known. It frames the medieval aqueduct, another of the most remarkable monuments.

From the center of Sulmona you can see the imposing Abruzzo mountains, snow-capped for much of the year

From the center of Sulmona you can see the imposing Abruzzo mountains, snow-capped for much of the year

From Superchilum via Wikimedia Commons

The old medieval citadel still retains four gates in good condition, which must be passed through: Molina, Filiamabili, Sant’Antonio and Santa Maria della Tomba, which the locals usually call Naples because it faces the city of Vesuvius, even when found nearly 200 kilometers away.

The presence of the Abruzzo mountains – and more particularly the Maiella massif – is so present in the walk through Sulmona that it invites you to explore them. The favorite destination is usually Roccaraso, known to be the region’s mecca for skiers. But less famous for the religious buildings that are worth visiting, such as the hermitage of the Madonna della Portella, with its marble altar; or the churches of San Bernardino and San Rocco.

Those nostalgic for classic train travel flock to Sulmona with the pompous name of Italian Trans-Siberian

Those nostalgic for classic train travel flock to Sulmona to savor the journey of a convoy known in the region as the pompous name of Trans-Siberian Italy. It connects Abruzzo to the unknown region of Molise over a 125 kilometer route. It only leaves on Sundays and crosses dreamy mountain landscapes on a track opened at the end of the 19th century, destroyed during the Second World War and brought back into service in the 1980s by enthusiasts of historic rail transport.

The carriages date from 1920 and 1930 and depart early in the morning for an all-day round trip. On special occasions, steam locomotives are plugged in, making the experience unforgettable (despite the soot the traveler will eventually soak up).

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