Visit Castel del Monte, Abruzzo
Castel del Monte in Abruzzo is a beautiful village which covers the top of a hill in the Gran Sasso mountain range. From the village you have 360° views over the surrounding mountains adding to the beauty and drama of this medieval and Renaissance village. It is classified as one of the "borghi piu belli d'Italia" or "most beautiful villages of Italy".
Explore Castel del Monte
Castel del Monte is a really stunning village in a superb location. Its architecture mostly dates to Medieval and Renaissance times. The Medicis ruled the town from 1579 for a century and a half and their legacy includes the Chiesa di San Marco with its distinctive tower.
Around the town are strong defensive walls which are also houses and five defensive gates which also date to the Medici period. These five gates were kept shut on a night until the 19th century to keep bandits out of the town!
Castel del Monte was a very prosperous sheep trading town from the 12th to the 16th centuries but the annual sheep drive to Apulia stopped in the mid 19th century and the town suffered a significant decline in wealth and population size. This decline means that little has changed since these early yearls and the town has retained its medieval and renaissance charm. As a result in recent years tourism has seen an improvement in the town's fortunes and whilst Abruzzo does not get the visitor numbers of other parts of Italy, Castel del Monte is one of its highlights.
Houses in the village are typically tall and thin, maybe 5 or 6 stories high. Highlights of the village include St Mark's church which dates back to the 14th and 15th century and inside has a Renaissance alter and Baroque statues. It also has a 16th century baptismal font. The church of Saint Maria dates back to the 15th century and has an impressive Baroque interior and a statue of the Madonna wearing a traditional local costume. This church was the main church of the shepherds and every year in September there is a procession of 'Our Lady of the shepherds'.
As well as the narrow streets, ancient houses, lovely squares and breathtaking views Castel del Monte has a number of narrow tunnels called 'sporti' under the village. These add an air of mystery to the town and played an important part in combatting witches spells in which the locals were firm believers in centuries past. If a child fell ill a remedy to fight the 'spell' was for the family to walk through the town via seven underground tunnels.
Film buffs will recognise the distinctive town as a key location in George Clooney's 2010 film 'The American'. Castelvecchio and Sulmona are also locations in the film. The film follows an assassin, played by Clooney, as he completes his last assignment whilst on the run from an unknown enemy.
As well as views over the dramatic mountain countryside, Castel del Monte also faces the dramatic fortress of Rocca Calascio which also features in the film 'The American' as well as 'Name of the Rose' and 'Ladyhawke'
Places to Visit Nearby
Castel del Monte is close to Rocca Calascio - the highest fortress in the Appennine mountains.
Also nearby is the charming village of Navelli, famous for its crocus harvest.
Where is Castel del Monte?
Castel del Monte is in the L'Aquila province of Abruzzo. It is not to be confused with another Castel del Monte in the Apulia region which is home to an impressive UNESCO listed castle.
Map of Castel del Monte, Abruzzo and places nearby
Castel del Monte, Abruzzo places to visit
See more places nearby in the Abruzzo guide