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  • Writer's pictureAnnemie Reyntjens

Linea di San Michele

Walk through Vasto, part 2


Now for the actual start of our walk through Vasto. The city's rich history is closely tied to its location, says our guide Alessandro Obino. For instance, it sits on the busy trade route between Florence, L'Aquila, and the Adriatic Sea. It was also a connecting point between Rome and Greece, which is why Vasto was often referred to as the "Athens of Abruzzo." Its position along the short route between Naples and the Adriatic Sea is also significant. Neapolitan is an official language in Italy, and it is spoken in Vasto as well. Two or three out of ten "tourists" come from the Naples region (two others from Rome), so don't be surprised if you see someone wearing a Maradona shirt.

Vasto is also part of the Linea di San Michele, a collection of places with pilgrimage sites dedicated to the cult of the Archangel Michael, the patron saint of Vasto. There are a total of seven such places in Europe. A stone from the archangel's cave was incorporated into the construction of the Santuario di San Michele in Monte Sant'Angelo, located in the Gargano region, known as the "pimple" of Italy, about a hundred kilometers south of Vasto. In Vasto, you have the Chiesa di San Michele, magnificent in its simplicity. It is Annemie's favorite church, and we'll come back to it later.

Other places associated with the cult of St. Michael include the hermitage in Ferentillo (central Italy), which no longer exists, the Sagra di San Michele in Val di Susa, Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall, and Skellig Michael off the Irish coast, as seen at the end of Star Wars with Luke Skywalker alone on that island.

Now back to Vasto. We never thought it would be so easy to navigate through history. We are now walking in the actual city, Vasto Alta, high above Vasto Marina below. From Piazza Verdi at Torre San Spirito, you'll find Vasto's busiest streets for car traffic, Corso Garibaldi and Via Crispi, intersecting perpendicularly. Navigating this half of Vasto is a breeze because the streets perfectly follow the rectangular street plan typical of ancient Rome, with the cardi running north-south and the decumani east-west. Corso Palizzi was the cardo maximus, the main street.

From Hotel Best Vasto, we turn right and walk along the busy Corso Garibaldi, not without hearing about the local Tigre supermarket in Vasto, known as the go-to place for exquisite wines at unbeatable prices, often lower than at the wineries themselves. They also offer wines that are hard to find elsewhere. After about 200 meters, we arrive at Piazza Barbacani, and the imposing Castello Caldoresco appears before us. This impressive structure has remained virtually unchanged since the 15th century. The castle served as a fortress, but also as a courthouse, prison, and archive. Particularly on the northern facade, which dominates the square, you can still see several loopholes and positions from which small artillery could be fired. The fountain in the center of the square, fed by the Aqueduct "delle Luci," dates back to the 17th century but originally stood in the "Piazza Grande" (today's Piazza Lucio Valerio Pudente). It was moved here in 1927. Piazza Barbacani is a delightful spot on our walk to enjoy a cappuccino or a glass of wine.

For the visitors of this website, we will gradually unveil the secrets of Vasto. If you'd like to visit, send an email to hello@abruzzomonamour.com, and we'll provide you with plenty of tips on attractions, places to stay, the finest wines from the region, the best restaurants, and more. But most importantly, visit the site regularly and subscribe to the newsletter.

As a first tip regarding accommodations, the place we always return to is Best Vasto. Check out www.bestvasto.it.

Also, see the first part of this walk: Walk through Vasto, Part 1: "Le pietre parlano," the stones speak.




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