Avezzano (Avezzanë in the local dialect) is a city in the province of L’Aquila with a population of 42,255.
It has the second largest population in the province and the sixth largest in Abruzzo. Records indicate that it existed as early as the 9th century. It is the largest community in the Marsica and the area’s administrative centre.
The regional courthouse and the episcopal curia of the Marsica diocese are both located in Avezzano. The Faculty of Law of the University of Teramo has a campus here, as does the Faculty of Nursing Sciences of the University of L’Aquila. The Comunità Montana Marsicana, a local association of mountain municipalities, has its head office in the city. Not far from the entrance to the A25 motorway is the intermodal commercial centre Interporto. Avezzano is a major transportation hub for this mountainous region of central Italy, being served by a road, a railway and a motorway. The city, which was the fifth most bombed city in Italy during World War II, was awarded a silver medal for civic merit after the war. The fact is commemorated in a plaque at the Palazzo di Città, or city hall.
Monuments and attractions:
- The cathedral of the Marsi
- The church of the Madonna di Pietraquaria
- The church of San Giovanni Decollato
- The church of San Rocco
- The church of the Santissima Trinità
- The church of San Pio X
- The church of Santa Maria Goretti
- The church of the Spirito Santo
- The church of Sant’Isidoro Agricoltore
- The church of San Gabriele dell’Addolorata
- The Orsini-Colonna castle
- The Cunicoli di Claudio archaeological park (the cuniculi were flood control tunnels built by the emperor Claudius)
- The Alba Fucens archaeological site
- The Riserva Naturale Guidata Monte Salviano
- The Museo Lapidario Marsicano (Marsica gravestone museum)
- The courthouse, designed in eclectic neoclassical style by the architect Luigi Gallo
Avezzano was razed to the ground both in 1915 and in 1944, and therefore, unlike other Abruzzo communities, has lost much of its architectural heritage. Only the following remain:
- two stone portals from the church of San Nicola, kept in the “Giovanni Bozzi” section of the Aia dei Musei museum complex on via Nuova, together with the collection of Roman tombstones formerly housed in the Museo Lapidario Marsicano;
- the 16th century fountain of Marcantonio Colonna, located in the street of the same name;
- the circular 19th century fountain in the middle of Villa Torlonia; and
- remnants of the façade of the church Collegiata di San Bartolomeo, located on Largo San Bartolomeo; it is a symbol of the city’s survival of the 1915 earthquake.
Also interesting is the bronze monument to the war dead.
Nearly at the top of a path that goes up Mount Salviano is a chapel. In the chapel is a stone bearing a mark that, according to an early 19th century legend, was made when it was struck by the hoof of a horse ridden by the Virgin Mary. At that location, the Virgin met a young deaf-and-dumb shepherd from Avezzano. She restored his speech and hearing, and asked him to instruct the local inhabitants to rebuild the church in Piatraquaria that had been dedicated to her.
Celebrations and festivals:
- April 26: When evening falls, focaracci, or bonfires, are lit in every part of town. The fires, which are inspired by the bonfires of the Celtic festival of Beltane, are in honour of the Madonna of Pietraquaria. People gather around them singing traditional and religious songs and holding impromptu concerts. The event also serves as an opportunity to meet immigrants who have returned to Avezzano from every part of the world.
- December: From December 6 to December 8, a Christmas market is held in the elegant Piazza Risorgimento. An entire Christmas village, constructed of wooden sheds decorated with coloured lights, brings the magic of Christmas to the centre of Avezzano. Christmas crafts and decorations are for sale, and Christmas characters circulate through the various events. An attractive ice skating rink is set up inside the village.
- December 26: This is the day of Saint Stephen’s Fair, a major event attended by thousands of people from the area and from central Italy. Hundreds of stands offer products of every type, including local specialties.
Agriculture: Many food growers operate farms in the Fucino Basin, and their produce is of very high quality. Especially prized are the excellent potatoes, which in 2014 were awarded a special IGP designation by the European Union. Carrots, lettuces, and many other types of vegetables are also grown. In Abruzzo, 25% of the agricultural production is from the Fucino Basin.
Industry: The city’s industrial sector is the economic engine of the province. It was launched in the 1970s and occupies an area just outside the city, in the direction of Luco dei Marsi. Numerous plants and factories are located here, including many in the innovation and technology sector, which employs 1,600 people. Foremost among these are L-Foundry (formerly Micron Technology), a giant in the production of specialized electronics; Arabian TV (Kidco); the Burgo paper mills (Burgo Group); and Fiamm, Saes and Presider.
Not far from here is Telespazio’s Fucino Space Centre, headed by Pietro Fanti. It is one of the world’s foremost providers of satellite services, is connected to an international network of space centres and teleports, and operates many subsidiaries throughout the world.
Near the Telespazio head office, a space has been reserved for displaying the rudder and propeller of Guglielmo Marconi’s yacht Elettra, which served as a “floating laboratory” for the scientist from 1919 to the 1930s. The placement of these objects is highly symbolic, because it establishes a link between modern space communications technology and the genius who pioneered such work. Metal fragments of the vessel were analyzed at the request of Rome’s Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Crafts and Agriculture, which then decided to have the objects restored.