Pacentro is a charming village in the Abruzzo region of Italy. Its pretty mix of Baroque, Renaissance and Medieval architecture has earnt it a place amongst Italy's "most beautiful villages".
At 650 meters above sea level in the Appenine mountains it also has wonderful views over the surrounding mountains and the valley below.
The picturesque medieval village spans a couple of hills, one of which is dominated by a castle. The castle was built in the 14th century and is currently under restoration. Originally it had 4 large towers, two of which remain intact. When the restoration is finished it is planned to open the castle to the public.
Originally the town spread out from the castle to the Piazza del Popolo but extended out over the San Marco hill over the years. The Piazza del Popolo is home to the main church which has a large bell tower. Indeed it is the second largest in the area.
Other churches in the town include the 12th century San Marcello church, an 18th century Baroque church, the Madonna di Loreto, and a 16th century convent church. Part of the convent is now home to Pacentro's youth hostel.
There are also a number of 16-19th century palaces and mansions, especially around the Piazza del Popolo and the Piazza Umberta. Strolling through the ancient streets is a pleasure and there are many pretty buildings, architectural details and splendid views along the way.
As well as its beauty Pacentro is also known for being the home of Madonna's paternal grandparents. Some of her relatives apparently still live here.
Just because its small doesn't mean its not well served by restaurants. There is a good choice of restaurants and there is the well known 'Taverna de li Caldora' which is reputed to be one of the best in the area. Certainly George Clooney thought so as he ate here several times whilst filming 'The American' in the area.
If you are here on the first Sunday of September you can enjoy the Festa of the Madonna of Loreto which includes a barefoot race downhill from the rugged slopes of the Colle Ardinghi to the church of the Madonna di Loreta.
Pacentro is only 8km from the striking town of Sulmona with its 14th century Palazzo Annunziata and its impressive aquaduct.
There are plenty of walking and cycling paths in the nearby national park - the Majella National Park. If you are here mid to end of June the high meadows are filled with beautiful wild flowers, a glorious sight.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Abruzzo guide.