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  • Writer's pictureAnnemie Reyntjens

A city in the grip of Gabriele Rossetti

A walk through Vasto, part 3

From Piazza Barbacani, it's only a short walk of barely a hundred meters to a famous place. Piazza Rossetti is named after perhaps Vasto's most famous offspring, the poet Gabriel Rossetti. In the center of the square stands the slender monument to the great prophet of the Italian Risorgimento. With the Torre di Bassano in the background, this makes for a first snapshot that can be sent home. "Rossetti is the city's greatest pride," says guide Alessandro Obino, "but also its greatest sorrow. He was loved throughout Italy, a fervent patriot. Until 1929, he was adored, but then it was over. It had to do with him." Obino points to a bronze medallion with the image of Dante Alighieri on the back of the monument. "Dante was Rossetti's primary source of inspiration. Rossetti was also a supporter of the Carbonari, a secret group that fought against absolutism. This combination of elements was lethal. For Rossetti, the Catholic Church was the epitome of absolutism. Allegories in Dante's work were interpreted by Rossetti as being linked to societies like the Fedeli d'Amore or the Templars. The Carbonari were more or less a branch of Freemasonry. They were against the Church. Until 1929, the Church in Italy was somewhat sidelined, thanks to the fascists. That changed with the Lateran Treaty. From then on, Rossetti was silenced, and Dante was solely studied from a Catholic perspective. If you want to find all the major works about Dante today, you have to look there." In the following days, the subject would come up again often. Remarkably, even though Rossetti may have been silenced, his name can be found everywhere in Vasto. Not just on the square named after him, but in shop windows, in restaurant menus, in the Teatro Rossetti—Gabriel is present everywhere. Obino continues: "I mentioned the greatest sorrow as a quip. When you talk to the people of Vasto about Rossetti, you won't see sad faces. Vasto has always been a stubborn, rebellious city. Rebelled against Napoleon, against the Germans, against being patronized by Rome, you name it. Gabriel Rossetti personifies that defiance. Look up, to the top of the monument. A glorious eagle is about to fly away. Just like the defiant Rossetti flew into exile abroad. The whole city seems built on that notion: like a fortress against another absolute power, the sea." Eyes fall short on Piazza Rossetti. Everywhere you look, there's something special. Behind the display of a clothing store, there is something that resembles an ancient Roman wall. In reality, it is a remnant of the Histonium amphitheater, where sea battles, just like in the Roman Colosseum, were recreated. There are also remains of the amphitheater in the cellars of Palazzo Palmieri. As we mentioned before, the stones speak in Vasto. For the visitors of this website, we will gradually unravel the secrets of Vasto. If you would like to go there, send an email to, and we will provide you with a lot of tips on sights, places to stay, the tastiest wines from the region, the best restaurants, etc. But above all, make sure to visit the site regularly and subscribe to the newsletter. First tip regarding accommodation: the place we always return to, Best Vasto. Visit See also the first part of this walk: A walk through Vasto, part 1. 'Le pietre parlano,' the stones speak. A walk through Vasto, part 2. Linea di San Michele.


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