Sulmona - Abruzzo
Sulmona's pleasant milieu of public gardens, national parks, and enchanting piazzas has won the city a reputation nearly as sweet as its sugared almonds, or confetti, a local dessert loved and eaten around the world. A small town, Sulmona is known best as the birthplace of the illustrious Latin poet Ovid, and as an agricultural and commercial center with a longtime tradition in the goldsmith trade. Ovid's devoted proclamation, "Sulmo mihi patria est" ("Sulmona is my homeland") appears inscribed all over the city; while the letters "SUL" (standing for Sulmona) are engraved in ancient jewels preserved by museums worldwide. Tucked away near some of the highest peaks in the Apennine range, Sulmona is a gem to explore, whether your ideal adventure is low-impact mountain-hiking or meandering the city's quiet courtyards and quaint avenues.
Legend states that the city of Sulmona was founded in 1000 B.C. by Solimo, one of Aeneas' comrades, who was fleeing the city of Troy. The town, known as Sulmo, had a strong historical presence during the Roman Era, and was recorded by chroniclers on many occasions. Its first recorded mention was in 211 B.C., during the Second Punic War, when Hannibal sacked the city. At that time, Sulmo was most famous for its ironsmiths. However, an unfortunate number of earthquakes have left little evidence of the ancient town above ground. Latin poet, Publius Ovidius Nasootherwise known as "Ovid"-was born here in 43 A.D. A treasured son of Sulmona, the celebrated author is best recognized for his epic work Metamorphoses and erotic Amores.
An unmistakable trademark of Sulmonese history, culture, and cuisine is its ever-popular candy. Recognized throughout the world as "confetti", this dessert of sugar-coated almonds has an origin tracing all the way back to 14 A.D. With centers variably filled with almonds, hazelnuts, anise seeds, cinnamon sticks, coffee beans, peanuts, pistachios, marzipan or chocolate, confetti today traditionally accompany party favors, flower arrangements, fruit baskets, and can be found at nearly every Italian occasion of significance. A large variety of colors exists, with white used most typically for weddings, silver for 25th anniversaries, sky-blue or pink for christenings, red for graduations, and green for engagements. The confetti industry's first real boom and development in the town occurred around 250 years ago and, since then, one of the original factories Pelino (est. 1783) has opened its doors-and a free confetti museumto sweettoothed visitors.
Despite the onslaught of earthquakes over the years, several fine medieval monuments remain and are worth being visited. The Romanesque-Gothic Cattedrale di San Panfilo, located at one end of Corso Ovidio, was built 1000 years ago on the site of a temple to Vesta and Apollo. Inside are tombs from the 15th century and a Byzantine sculpture of the Madonna with Child. Incredible Sulmonese Renaissance gold work is discovered inside the museum of the Baroque church (chiesa), adjacent to the Palazzo di Santissima Annunziata. The Museo in Situ offers the public a privileged look at the intact ruins of a Roman domus, or "house." A pleasant Renaissance font, the Fontana del Vecchio, spouts water from a nearby medieval aqueduct at the center of the vast Piazza Garibaldi. This Piazza is also the venue for two important and celebrated Giostre ("jousts"), which are held there during the month of July: the first for knights from the seven districts of medieval Sulmona only, and the second for knights from all over Europe.
Sulmona's train station is located 2 km outside the city center, with a bus connecting the station to the town. Trains run to Avezzano, L'Aquila, Naples, Pescara, and Rome.