The beauty of customized tours of Italy is that you get a chance to discover many hidden gems that haven’t been overrun by tourists hordes and preserve their authenticity. A pretty town of Penne in Abruzzo is one of them. It is sometimes called “the small Siena” as the old town is built in bricks.
Parts of the 15th century walls can still be seen around the oldest part of Penne with its maze of narrow cobbled streets and elegant old palaces. The town is well-known for its wrought-iron artisans, so keep an eye out for intricate balconies and gates that are still made here in the traditional style.
The town’s history goes back to pre-historic times when a local tribe lived in a Neolithic hut village found by archaeologists in the vicinity. Penne went through wars, sieges and revolts, changing hands and being taken over by the Roman, Lombards, Alessandro de’ Medici and numerous other powerful rulers.
The traces of the glorious past can be seen in the centro storico. As you enter through the main spectacular entrance Porta San Francesco, you start a journey back in time. Take your time and stroll slowly taking in the beauty of this hidden gem. There are some beautiful old churches to discover: the main Cathedral (Il Duomo) with crypt from the early Christianity, Sant’Agostino church with 14th century frescoes, imposing Baroque Chiesa di SS. Annunziata. Many elegant palaces represent different eras: Palazzo De Dura from Renaissance times, Palazzo Scorpione – the Duchess of Florence and Parma’s abode.
With customized tours of Italy you can also visit The Riserva Naturale Lago di Penne near the town for a relaxing afternoon and a picnic. The artificial lake is home to some rare birds, plants and animals such as otter and tasso that can be spotted in the area going on with their daily lives.
Penne also has excellent restaurants where hearty traditional food is served. Check out Ristorante La Grotta (Via Pultone, 8) and Osteria del Leone (Piazza XX Settembre, 31).
Photos by: Stefano Delle Monache/ Wikimedia Commons, Comune di Penne.