The fortress town of Civitella del Tronto

Civitella del Tronto is a historic fortress town in the northeastern corner of Abruzzo, the Italian region that stretches from the slopes of the Appenine mountains (east of Rome) to the Adriatic Sea.


Civitella del Tronto

The last fortress

The 500 meter long fortress, the second largest of its kind in Europe after the fortress in Salzburg, is certainly an impressive sight and can be seen from miles away. Strategically located between the Kingdom of Naples and the Papal States, the town played a key role in the political affairs of the Italian peninsula in the 13th – 16th centuries. In the 19th century, the fortress was the scene of the last stand of the Kingdom of Naples against the armies of Garibaldi and Piedmont. The fall of the fortress in 1861 cleared the way for the unification and creation of the Kingdom of Italy.


The imposing walls of the fortress

These days, Civitella del Tronto (map) is a sleepy town with beautiful houses and quaint cobbled streets. The mighty fortress stands proudly above the town and is now a museum. The views of the verdant hills and the awe-inspiring Gran Sasso mountains from the fortress are absolutely stunning! Scroll down for a photo tour of Civitella del Tronto.


Inside the fortress. Join a guided tour to hear about the tempestuous history of Civitella and its fortress


The rooftops of Civitella del Tronto seen from the fortress


The main street in Civitella del Tronto


Civitella also claims to have the narrowest lane in Italy. I had to walk sideways in some parts! 🙂

Around Civitella del Tronto

Civitella is the perfect base for those wishing to explore the region – with its impressive mountains, expansive forests and picturesque medieval towns, not to mention its gorgeous food and wines (think Montepulciano d’Abruzzo!), there’s lots to see and do in the province of Teramo. In addition, the Adriatic coast is less than an hour away. I visited two gorgeous towns near Civitella which I can recommend: Campli, close to Civitella and famous for its Holy Staircase (one of two in Italy; the other is its famous twin in Rome) and porchetta (roast pork); and Ascoli Piceno, a medieval town with a beautiful square and ditto churches.


The Holy Staircase in Campli


The Santa Maria Curch in Campli


The stunning ceiling in the Santa Maria Church


The beautiful travertine-paved Piazza del Popolo in Ascoli Piceno


Inside the breathtaking Cathedral of Ascoli Piceno

You can also drive one of the many scenic routes around the Gran Sasso mountains or hike in the Gran Sasso & Monti della Laga National Park. The mountain views are simply astounding!


The mighty Gran Sasso peaks in Abruzzo

Italy wouldn’t be Italy if there was no wine involved! There are various wine routes in the vicinity of Civitella. One of my favourite wineries is the Illuminati Estate. Located in the northeastern corner of Abruzzo, this winery is one of the biggest in the area and the surrounding scenery is simply gorgeous.


Vineyards in Abruzzo


Wine station at the Illuminati estate – bring your own barrel/bottles, fill them up with the wine of your choice and have a party!

Where to stay in Civitella del Tronto

There are several accommodation options in and around Civitella del Tronto but the one I highly recommend is Hotel Zunica 1880. The rooms are very spacious and the ones in the front boast jaw-dropping views of the green valley below and the Gran Sasso mountains. It was a joy to wake up every morning to that stunning panorama!


Hotel Zunica 1880


The view of the verdant hills and snow-capped Gran Sasso mountains from my room window at Hotel Zunica 1880

The hotel also has arguably one of the best fine-dining restaurants in the region, showcasing local Abruzzo specialties and wines. It sure was grand to return to the hotel after a full-day of exploring the area and enjoy a terrific meal.


The classy restaurant at Hotel Zunica 1880

Abruzzo simply blew me away with its unspoilt natural beauty and countless cultural and historical attractions. Add to that its sumptuous cuisine and delicious wines, and the fact that Abruzzo is still relatively off-the-beaten-track, and you have a fine destination just waiting to be discovered! If you do choose to visit Abruzzo, don’t miss the lovely fortress town of Civitella del Tronto.

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11 Responses to “The fortress town of Civitella del Tronto”

  1. Carlo Di Meco 10/03/2013 12:27 pm

    Hello Keith,

    Your journey is really nice and your post too. Back again in Abruzzo!

    Carlo Di Meco

  2. Keith Jenkins 19/02/2013 8:16 pm

    Thanks Maurizio! I’ll definitely look you up the next time I’m in Abruzzo!

    Best regards,

  3. Maurizio 19/02/2013 5:49 pm

    Thank You Keith!

    See You next time in Civitella at Zunica!

    PS The wine station is a big part of the business! In the valley we are 80.000 people and it’s normal to drink “vino da tavola” or “vino sfuso” (both are correct) at home. I usally buy 100 liters 😉



  4. Kim 19/02/2013 2:44 pm

    A self service wine vending machine.. that is awesome!

  5. Travelwriticus 16/02/2013 7:26 pm

    Thanks for the info, Keith! In Austria we call this ‘offener Wein’ (literally translated ‘open wine’)

  6. Keith Jenkins 16/02/2013 1:51 pm

    I found it! It’s called ‘vino sfuso’. See: 🙂

  7. Travelwriticus 16/02/2013 1:49 pm

    I guess, in Austria we would call this type of wine ‘Tafelwein’ (‘Table wine’), in Italy they perhaps say ‘Vino da Tavola’?

  8. Keith Jenkins 16/02/2013 1:38 pm

    Hi Andreas, the wine station is serious but the one at the Illuminati estate is especially striking. Many vineyards in Italy have some sort of wine station where locals and visitors can come and fill up their barrels/bottles. There’s a name for this type of wine but I can’t remember. It really is cheap though. Like EUR 0.80/liter or something. Locals bring home the barrels and let the wine age in their basement. Very neat!


  9. Travelwriticus 16/02/2013 1:27 pm

    I love the extensive account but I’m a bit surprised by the wine station. What do you think? Is this station a serious business or just a kind of joke by the owners of the estate?


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