Pescara (Pescàre in the local dialect) is a city with a population of 121,472. It is the capital of the province of the same name and has the largest population in Abruzzo. Many regional government offices are located here, as well as four faculties of the Gabriele d’Annunzio University and the Luisa D’Annunzio music school. It has a large port on the Adriatic Sea and the only international airport in the Region.
Pescara is situated about 4 m above sea level on the Adriatic coast, and has spread out around the mouth of the Aterno-Pescara River.
Despite its largely modern appearance, the city has ancient origins and a rich cultural history. It is the birthplace of such literary figures as Gabriele D’Annunzio and Ennio Flaiano, and hosts some important cultural events, including the Pescara Jazz Festival (the first of its kind in Italy). The Flaiano Prizes are awarded in Pescara.
The city also has close ties to sport. It hosted the Mediterranean Games in 2009 and the Acerbo Cup car race from 1924 to 1961, and every year it hosts the Trofeo Matteotti bicycle race. It is the birthplace of some well-known sports figures, including the race car driver Jarno Trulli, the football player Mario Pizziolo, and former football players Massimo Oddo and Fabio Grosso.
Monuments and attractions:
Because Pescara suffered successive devastations over the centuries and was heavily bombed during World War II, most of its architectural heritage has been lost; nevertheless, the city offers some interesting sights, both ancient and modern:
- The cathedral of San Cetteo
- The church of the Sacro Cuore
- The basilica of the Madonna dei Sette Dolori
- The church of the Madonna del Fuoco
- The church of San Silvestro
- The Bagno Borbonico, a building used as a prison by the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and incorporating remnants of the city walls built during the Norman and Byzantine periods
- The Nave, a ship sculpture by Cascella
- The ponte del Mare (sea bridge), a suspension bridge reserved for cyclists and pedestrians; with a length of 466 m and a maximum height of 172 m, it is the largest bridge of its kind in Italy and one of the largest in Europe
- The trabocchi, habitable wooden structures built on stilts in the water and traditionally used for fishing
- The nature reserves Riserva Regionale Dannunziana and Riserva Statale di Santa Filomena
Celebrations and festivals:
- Every year, the people involved in Pescara’s fisheries sector celebrate the feast of their patron saint, Saint Andrew the Apostle. The celebration, which had its beginnings in 1867, always takes place in the fishing district, near the port, in homage to fishermen. It has always included a procession that has the distinguishing feature of taking place in the sea.
- The Feast of the Madonna dei Sette Dolori is a very ancient festival that takes place on the first Sunday in June in the church dedicated to that Madonna.
- Every year in July since 1994 the city has hosted the Regata dei Gonfaloni, a rowing competition on the Aterno-Pescara River for 8-metre boats with 10 rowers. Every boat represents a city on the Adriatic or in other locations on the Mediterranean.
- On October 10, Pescara celebrates the feast of its patron saint, San Cetteo.
Culture and education:
Università Gabriele d’Annunzio: This university has campuses in both Pescara and Chieti. The Pescara campus has the faculties of architecture, economics, foreign languages and literature, and management sciences.
ICRA Network: ICRA (International Center for Relativistic Astrophisics) is an international organization that promotes astrophysics research; it works in collaboration with the University of Rome (Sapienza), Stanford University, Washington State University, the Space Telescope Institute (in the US), and the Vatican Observatory in Castel Gandolfo. The organization’s offices are housed in the old railway station, in the centre of Pescara. They include an astrophysics centre that co-ordinates and promotes theoretical research and scientific modelling using data obtained from astronomy and astrophysics observatories around the world and in space.
ISIA (Istituto Superiore per le Industrie Artistiche): This school of industrial design, which has limited enrolment, has campuses in Rome, Florence, Faenza and Urbino. It operates under the aegis of the Higher Art and Music Department of Italy’s Ministry of Education, Universities and Research. The Pescara campus is a satellite of the Rome campus and offers a three-year degree in industrial design.
Conservatorio Luisa D’Annunzio: This music school was established in 1922 through the efforts of a group of Pescara intellectuals working with Francesco Paolo Michetti, who named it Corporazione musicale Luisa D’Annunzio in honour of Gabriele D’Annunzio’s mother. In 1935 the institution became a secondary school, and in 1969, a conservatory of music.
- Casa Natale di Gabriele D’Annunzio: This is the house where the Italian poet and playwright Gabriele D’Annunzio was born. The building, which dates from the 1700s and was purchased by the D’Annunzio family in the 1800s, was designated a national monument in 1927. It was redesigned as a museum by the architect Giancarlo Maroni, a friend of D’Annunzio. The museum occupies the first floor of the building, and consists of nine rooms decorated with period furnishings and objects belonging to the poet and his family.
- Museo Villa Urania: This museum contains numerous ceramics from Castelli produced in the 16th and 17th centuries.
- Museo delle Genti d’Abruzzo: The Abruzzi people’s museum contains artefacts and objects illustrating life in Abruzzo from prehistoric times to the industrial revolution.
- Museo d’arte moderna “Vittoria Colonna”
- Museo Civico “Basilio Cascella”
- Mediamuseum: The museum is housed in the old courthouse building and contains a collection of film posters, newspaper articles, photographs, paintings and multimedia exhibits on film and the theatre. It is also a video library.
- Museo del Mare: The sea museum contains specimens of marine turtles and a collection of skeletons of whales found in the Mediterranean.
- Jazz Festival: Launched in 1969, this was Italy’s first summer jazz festival, and it inspired a series of others throughout the country. It is one of Europe’s most important jazz festivals and has been written about in some notable international jazz publications. The event takes place every year in July at the Teatro D’Annunzio.
- Ennio Flaiano International Prize: The prize has been awarded every year since 1974 for excellence in film, theatre, literature and television.
The following is a list of Pescara’s tallest and most distinctive structures, including those to be completed in the next few years: