FRANCAVILLA AL MARE
From the origins to the modern age
The origins of Francavilla al mare are contained in the same name: 'villa', ie village, and 'franca', ie free, in reference to the fact that the community of fishermen and farmers, who in the Longobard era built the first true residential center , was freed from the feudal condition and enjoyed tax exemption for about twelve years. The specification 'at sea' underlines the strong link between the city and the blue Adriatic on which the town is mirrored.
The area was surrounded by perimeter walls with three access doors, and defended by twelve towers. The port and the deposit for the salt, as well as the Assumption Fair granted to the Land of Francavilla, testify to a good economic prosperity. Around the middle of the fifteenth century the city was hit by the plague and shortly thereafter it was invaded and sacked first by Monate Friar of Provence, then by the Count of Lando. In 1501 the locality was given in fief to Constance d'Avalos; from ducato it became principality and passed to the prince of Montesarchi. In 1602 the Caracciolo family, Marquis of Volturara, bought it for 25,000 ducats and six years later became the property of Di Palma but in the mid-seventeenth century Francavilla returned under the D'Avalos who held it until the abolition of feudalism. At the beginning of the eighteenth century it was conferred the title of city.
In 1865 the Ancona-Pescara-Bari railway line was opened and Francavilla began to develop on the shores of the Adriatic with the new Marina district. A long tree-lined avenue, rich villas arranged in a chessboard on the sea, elegant hotels and the Palazzo Sirena. Francavilla would soon become a very famous seaside resort. The resort became a bathing destination starting from 1873 when the first bathing establishment was built but it is in the following decades, and in particular since the eighties of the nineteenth century that Francavilla gained notoriety at national level, thanks to the skills and spirit of initiative of a young but already well-known painter, Francesco Paolo Michetti.
He, who moved to the Adriatic town of Chieti, where he had been living for some time, created, around his person, a real literary and artistic cenacle, based first in his studio in the Navy, then in a former Franciscan convent, past to the municipal demanio and bought by him in 1883. In the dense network of friendships and relationships of the painter there were prestigious personalities such as Gabriele D'Annunzio, Francesco Paolo Tosti, Edoardo Scarfoglio and Matilde Serao, who, with other famous artists and intellectuals from Abruzzo (Costantino Barbella, Basilio Cascella, Antonio De Nino, Giuseppe Mezzanotte and others) shared experiences of life and thought, giving life to a partnership that for many years had, as a reference point, the convent Michetti (under this name is known today) and its famous owner. A high-profile cultural center, Francavilla (and with it Abruzzo) jumped in the latter part of the late nineteenth century and in the early twentieth century, in the national limelight . With the death of Francesco Paolo Michetti (1929), an unrepeatable era ended for the city and its region of origin, which still today continues to live in the collective imagination of the Francavillesi and of many Abruzzesi.
Defined as the 'pearl of the Adriatic' for its limpid beaches, the beauty of the sea, the villas and the numerous tourist facilities.
This brief but flourishing moment of cultural ferment from belle epoque unfortunately came to a head with the ignition of the Second World War, during which Francavilla was razed to the ground by Anglo-American bombers and mines of retreating Germans.
Today, only a few walls and six medieval towers remain of the ancient urban layout of the Upper Country: the Silver Tower preserved in its entirety, the Torre Di Giovanni, reduced to little more than a ruin and the Torre Masci, the Tower of 1570 and the two surviving towers, Torre De Monte, and the Torre Rapinesi.
In the immediate post-war period, Francavilla was rebuilt in modern forms and was considerably extended along the coast, especially towards the north, until it merged today, without interruption, with the village of Pescara.
What remains of the ancient Francavilla is its culture, its people, the sea, the beautiful beaches, the hills, good food and the desire to return great.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Despite the serious destruction that occurred during the Second World War, the city retains some towers of medieval origin, miraculously surviving the bombing. Among these: Torre d'Argento, located in the Civitella area; Torre Masci, built in 1570 and located in via Michetti; Torre Ciarrapico, built in 1660.
CHURCHES AND CONVENTS
Francavilla has numerous sacred buildings located throughout the municipal area, including San Giovanni Battista and San Francesco. The latter was built according to Romanesque and Burgundian architectural forms; at his side is still visible a stone wall of 1330 that would testify the presence of Franciscan friars in the place.
CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA MAGGIORE
The church, built according to a project by Ludovico Quaroni, is built on a large stone base on which the only irregular-shaped nave is elevated, with a flattened vaulted dome. In the interior it is clearly perceivable a play of light, particularly intense in the center of the nave, more suffused along the narrow ambulatory. The building has been embellished by the Cascella, both externally, with an octagonal fountain and the decoration of the façade, both inside, with the terracotta frieze of the ambulatory, the grilles of the windows, the pulpit, the Easter candle and the presbyterial seats in stone. The church also houses a Gothic monstrance of 1413 and other sacred objects.
CHURCH OF SAN BERARDINO
The church of San Bernardino, located in the homonymous district, is of considerable architectural interest: it has an elliptical plan, with a harmonious interior with classic forms.
CHURCH OF THE MADONNA DELLE PIANE
In the church Madonna delle Piane (seventeenth century) there is a baroque wooden altar from the seventeenth century.
CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA DELLA CROC
The church of Santa Maria della Croce (XV century), of little artistic value, is currently unsafe and in a state of neglect.
CONVENT 'FRANCESCO PAOLO MICHETTI'
Known more simply as Convent Michetti or even as 'Cenacolo michettiano' or 'Cenacolo dannunziano', it has now become one of the symbols of the city. The building was erected in 1430 by the minor friars of the Osservanza and then moved to the municipal property immediately after the reunification of Abruzzo to the Kingdom of Italy. In the first half of the eighties, it was purchased by Francesco Paolo Michetti who, after having radically restructured it, established his residence there and made it a center for meetings and cultural exchanges. As has already been noted, it was frequented by famous intellectuals, writers and artists who assured him a national and international projection. Among his most assiduous guests were Gabriele D'Annunzio (hence the name of 'cenado dannunziano' with which he is also known), Francesco Paolo Tosti, Costantino Barbella, Basilio Cascella, Edoardo Scarfoglio and Matilde Serao. The bell tower is in oriental style.
HISTORICAL AND MODERN MEETINGS
Francavilla al mare has always been the destination of a predominantly middle-class tourism, mostly coming from the rest of Abruzzo and from Rome. In its territory there are numerous villas and dwellings of particular value: Villa Olivella, Villa Terra, Villa Ballone, Villa De Medio.
The territorial conformation of the area, constituted by hills close to the sea and valleys, offers numerous panoramic points from which to admire the coast and the hinterland pedimontano straddling the two provinces of Pescara and Chieti.
It is the belvedere attached to the complex of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore. It allows a complete view of the northern part of Francavilla al Mare and Pescara south.
Setteventi belvedere is recently built, with a small enclosed area. It is located on the Hill of Setteventi. It allows a view of the south coast of Francavilla al Mare and of the nearby promontory of Ortona.
In 1998, at the structure of the former Town Hall, the 'Francesco Paolo Michetti' Museum was inaugurated, where two of the painter's most famous paintings are kept: Le Serpi and Gli Storpi. Today the structure hosts important events related to the world of pictorial art.
Medieval tower used to host exhibitions and events.
FRANCAVILLA AL MARE
COSTA DEI TRABOCCHI
The Costa dei Trabocchi, which stretches along the Adriatic from Francavilla to Vasto, is now famous throughout the world and is a source of pride for all the people of Abruzzo.
They have always competed to exalt their characteristics by appealing to a thousand-year-old culture, ranging from an environmental and historical-artistic heritage of merit to an excellent food and wine, the pride of Made in Italy.
The overflows are strange and complex fishing machines, hoisted on stilts and almost miraculously supported by a web of cables and axles. They do not have a stable shape but, in their essential parts, they consist of platforms, composed of boards and beams not completely connected, high on primitive pillars driven on the sea bottom or on rocks, and joined to the near shore by slender walkways. From the platforms, the antennas are detached, which support the networks by means of a complicated system of pulleys and ropes.
Here survive, to the overbuilding in progress, jewels of rare beauty with captivating names: Cungarelle, Trave, Casarza, S. Nicola, Canale, Vignola, Punta Penna, Libertini, Punta Aderci, Mottagrossa, Fosso Canale, Punta Cavalluccio, Palombo fish and so on. , where it is still possible to immerse yourself in a luxuriant nature among vegetable gardens and pine groves that touch rocky beaches presided over by the primitive trabocchi of the fishermen or enjoy breathtaking views.
The Mountain of the Majella, Father of the Mountains for Pliny the Elder, Mountain Mother for the Abruzzesi, tall, imposing, wild, mountainous group, is part, by right, of the world heritage of the National Parks. Geographically made up of four great orographic individualities - the Majella proper, large and compact limestone massif, the Morrone, the Porrara and the Pizzi Mountains, with the valleys and karst planes that interpose between them - is a National Park that, by geographical position, harshness, vastness, and grandeur, due to its rigor and climatic changeability, is certainly unique in its kind and contains within it, in vast areas (widelands), which present peculiar aspects of wild nature (wildland), the most valuable and rare biodiversity national heritage, of European and world importance.