Lanciano is a substantial (population 35,000) town near the coast to the east of central Italy, in the Abruzzo region, that can trace its history back over 7000 years.
The interesting part of Lanciano for visitors is the historical centre of the town (known as Civitanova), which contains several interesting buildings and historical features among the ancient streets.
We suggest you start your tour of Lanciano at the cathedral.
Called the Basilica of Santa Maria del Ponte (Saint Mary of the Bridge) and situated on Piazza Plebiscito, the neo-classical style cathedral we see todays dates from the 18th century (the belltower in the early 17th century), although an earlier church stood here from the 11th century onwards.
Th cathedral is built on the ruins of a Roman bridge - the name comes from the bridge itself, and the discovery of a statue of the Madonna and Child during the building of the cathedral.
Inside the cathedral it is the decorative columns, and painted vaults and dome that are the highlights.
Another important religious building in Lanciano is the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, dating from the 13th century (modified in the 16th century) and with a particularly impressive entry portal surmounted by a decorative circular stone window.
Interestingly for several hundred years the church was in baroque style following a 16th century modification and it was only in the second half of the 20th century that the original gothic style was restored.
The Church of Saint Francis has a similar history, with its baroque elements removed to re-present the original 12th century church.
The church of Saint Francis is best known for the Sanctuary of the Eucharistic Miracle - the miracle took place in Lanciano 1300 years ago, when bread and wine used in the religious service seemingly transformed miraculously into real flesh and blood.
(Scientists have confirmed that the relics inside the sanctuary at Lanciano are indeed real human flesh and blood, although their origins in real bread and wine are yet to be verified).
As you explore you will discover several other churches and religious buildings in Lanciano, such as the Saint Augustine Monastery in Via dei Frentani, the Church of the Holy Cross, the Church of Saint Angelo, the Church of Saint Nicola with its 14th century frescoes and the Church of Sant'Agostino.
When you tire of churches there are several other important monuments in Lanciano, including parts of the original medieval defences, in part dating from the 11th century.
Among the most notable are the town gate, known as the Porta San Biagio and the imposing town walls and associated towers, such as the two towers of the Torri Montanare, built in the Middle Ages to defend the town.
Numerous smaller palaces and town houses can also be seen. On the medieval workshops in a 15th century building on Via dei Frentani (corner of Piazza Frentani) you can still see the original arcades.
See also the Archbishop's Palace, built at the end of the 16th century on Piazza dell'Appollo.
Continue onwards towards the east to explore the Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise, a large National Park with a diverse range of environments and scenery and plenty of opportunities to explore the beautiful countryside of this part of Italy.