Sulmona is a hidden gem of central Italy. Visiting it as part of private Italy vacations can be a real pleasure as it offers everything that sophisticated travelers look for in this beautiful country: history, culture, great food and wine plus the splendor of unspoilt nature.
Walking along small cobbled streets of Sulmona is like stepping back in time. The historic center is busy with small shops, restaurants and cafes that have not changed much for a few centuries. The central street, one-kilometer long Corso Ovidio, is lined up with old shops, elegant palaces and old churches. It is impossible to resist the colorful displays of confetti, the sugared almonds that Sulmona is famous for. Thanks to private Italy vacations you will be able to pop into a few shops to buy some of these sweet souvenirs to take back home. The main street opens up on to the spectacular piazza Garibaldi, with the 13th century aqueduct on one side and majestic snow-capped mountains on the other. Every Wednesday and Saturday the square turns into a lively farmers’ market where you can find the freshest fruit, vegetables, bread and bargain like a local.
Pop in to the splendid 14th century Palazzo Annunziata which houses the Civic Museum to admire old photos of the town and learn about Sulmona’s rich history. The 11th century cathedral of San Panfilo has been restored many times after numerous earthquakes and today it is a fascinating mix of architectural styles.
On via Ercole Ciofano stands Palazzo Baroni Tabassi built in the 15th century by the same family that still owns it. Make sure you check out the pretty courtyard. In its glory days Sulmona had almost 60 noble families and they were all trying to outdo each other building opulent palaces many of which have survived to modern days. You can see some of them on via Corfinio, via Quatrario, and via dell’Ospedale.
Every year thousands of people come to Sulmona to see the famous Easter ritual, “La Madonna che scappa”, or the Running Madonna, and summer Giostra Cavalleresca, a horse race that originated in Renaissance.
A few years ago, George Clooney spent some time in the town while working on his thriller “The American”. Locals will tell you that he loved hanging out at Caffe Europa Bar and sampling delicious traditional dishes in small local restaurants.
Photos by: Melanie Bateman, Michael Calore, Giuseppe Savo.