Medieval Chieti: (left) Porta Pescara; (right) Torre Arcivescovile
I slept another night at Pescara; and, having retraced my way along the river as far as the stone obelisk which points out the road leading to Chieti, we followed its zigzag and very wearisome course for the space of three miles along the sides of an olive-grown bank, till we reached the gate of the city, placed on the very crest or saddle of the hill: the situation of which is salubrious, and commands an extensive prospect of the surrounding country, but is far from commodious, or even agreeable, in other respects.
Keppel Richard Craven - Excursions in the Abruzzi and northern provinces of Naples - 1838
July 31st, 1843. We set off by day-break, in order that we might reach Chieti (the capital of Abruzzo Citeriore, distant twenty-one miles from Popoli,) before the heat of the day; a project which we were not to execute. (..) Our road led through a wild and gloomy pass, until we came to the fertile ground opening to the Adriatic. (..) We crossed the Pescara and were on the high-road to Chieti; but the great heat of the day, combined with the little interest possessed by the scenery, made the journey far from a pleasant one. Nor did the high clay ridge, on which Chieti stood afar off, offer any recompense in perspective. Long indeed it was before we arrived at the gates of the capital of Abruzzo Citeriore, by apparently endless windings of monotonous, though good, carriage-road: the ascent to this ancient city, (formerly Teate of the Marrucini) is truly "un vero Calvario."
Edward Lear - Illustrated Excursions in Italy - 1846
View of Spoltore, a hilly town very near Pescara, and of the Adriatic Sea from Chieti
The view on all sides, which is very extensive, is extolled as remarkable for its beauty and amenity; but, except to the south-east scarcely deserves this encomium. On this side the sea, though not nearer the eye than from the opposite flank of the mountain appears much more distinctly, and the intervening ground is diversified by numberless hillocks, wooded valleys, or contracted glens, not scantily enlivened with substantial villages and country houses, many of which last bespeak greater affluence and a more refined taste than the generality of such edifices exhibit. The environs of Chieti are thickly studded with similar buildings which are as remarkable for their architecture, as they appear deficient to the foreigner, in what constitutes the most valuable appendage to such residences, namely, a garden. Craven
We found an inn, the Aquila d'Oro, a strange straggling place, with one immense bed-room containing six beds; a common occurrence in these parts of Italy, where they have no idea of any one being so fastidious as to dislike sharing a sleeping-room with chance passengers. What is worse, they will not let you pay for the whole, which one would willingly do; for that, say they, would be unjust to after-comers, who have a right to hire unoccupied beds. Fortunately, we were the only strangers in the Locanda, so we slept in our six beds accordingly; a repose we were not sorry to have after an early dinner. Lear
View towards the Gran Sasso
We found a good but very crowded inn, much attention from its inmates, and excellent fare; but the heat of the weather, and the state of bodily suffering under which I began to labour, prevented my remaining as long as I intended, or even availing myself of the letters I had brought with me for some of the principal families and the Intendente. These drawbacks may possibly have imparted an unfavourable colouring to the impression made by the town of Chieti, which I nevertheless must record as I felt it. Craven
The view from the summit of the hill is extensive and magnificent in the extreme; yet, excepting perhaps the group of mountains about the Gran Sasso, - that which terminates the fine chain bounding the plain to the right, - the whole scene has little attraction for a landscape-painter, from its extreme panoramic vastness. Lear
View towards the Maiella massif
The air of this city is esteemed pure and healthy; but its elevated position, and proximity to the high range of Majella, subject it to great varieties of temperature, exemplified by violent heat, sudden and tempestuous winds, and frequent fogs in the autumn and winter. Craven
To the left, the huge Maiella stands almost alone; and beyond, plains of undulating clay ridges, clad with vineyards, and spotted with countless towns and villages, stretch southward as far as eye can reach, and eastward to the broad blue Adriatic. Lear
From the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele a promenade leads round the town, affording magnificent *Views of the Maiella group, the course of the Pescara, and the hill country extending to the sea.
Baedeker - Italy; handbook for travellers - 1900
Views of Corso Marrucino
The city contains about ten thousand inhabitants, and is placed longitudinally on the narrow crest of a range of hills that runs in a south-east direction from that of Morrone (Maiella) towards the sea.
Its form is modified upon the space it occupies, which is narrow and elongated; the streets are in general contracted and tortuous, and in many parts dark and dirty, though provided with well-built houses and shops, which in size and splendour approach nearer to those of the metropolis than any other belonging to provincial towns. The fertility of the surrounding territory, improved by assiduous cultivation, provides the city with abundant supplies of every necessary and even luxury of life, added to regular importations of river and sea fish. Craven
Chieti is a large bustling city, containing about fourteen thousand inhabitants, often called "Il Napoli dei tre Abruzzi" from its liveliness and population. The best accounts of its buildings, &c. may be found in the Hon. K. Craven's Tour in the Abruzzi. Our evening passed in procuring food for our horses, (no very easy matter,) and in wandering about the city, which, after all, had no great charms for us; and we left the promenade on the ramparts, thinking, that were we never to see Chieti again, we should not be exceedingly sorry. Lear
In the second half of the XIXth century the urban layout of Chieti was greatly modified: most of the walls and gates were pulled down and the contracted and tortuous streets mentioned by Craven were replaced by straight ones. In particular a large street was opened between the eastern and western ends of the town. It is named after the Marrucini, the ancient inhabitants of this part of Abruzzo.
Corso Marrucino: (left) Palazzo de' Mayo; (right) Palazzo della Camera di Commercio
Chieti has a good theatre, with a respectable operatic corps, whose performance of the rehearsal of the Donna del Lago (an opera by Rossini) during a whole summer's night contributed not a little to effectually banish such intervals of sleep as the heat of the earlier part of the evening, and the tumultuous gaiety of the working classes, might have spared. In this last respect, Chieti vies with, or perhaps exceeds, the clamour of the narrow lanes of the capital (Naples), where the security from any interruption of carriages allows such artisans as carry on their labours during the nocturnal hours to indulge in all the noisy mirth which seems an indispensable appendage to such occupations.
It offered in this particular a remarkable contrast to the wider but deserted streets of Aquila, where, after nightfall, even in the brightest moonlight, not a voice is heard, or a human form visible.
I need not add, that an appearance of ease, cheerfulness, and activity, is the natural accompaniment of these habits of industry, which may nevertheless be attributed to the effects of climate rather than to those of education. Craven
Palazzo de' Mayo was built in the XVIIIth century, but it was largely redesigned in the following one. Palazzo della Camera di Commercio was designed in the 1930s in a neo-Renaissance style; its windows are almost copies of those of Palazzo della SS. Annunziata at Sulmona, a very fine XVth century building.
Chieti has a large cathedral, which offers nothing remarkable except an extensive collection of Latin inscriptions found in the vicinity, and fixed on the surface of one of the walls of the edifice: a mode of uniting and preserving such records of antiquity, which ought to be more generally followed in all countries where they abound. Craven
In 1920-1936 the exterior of the cathedral was entirely redesigned in a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic styles. They replaced the late Baroque appearance which the Cathedral was given after it had been damaged by the earthquakes which destroyed l'Aquila in 1703 and Sulmona in 1706.
Chieti, after the. invasion of Italy by the Lombards was comprised in the principality of Benevento, and governed by Castaldi, or Counts of which the chronicles of the kingdom have preserved a list. In later times it was occasionally granted in fief to influential families or made the reward of military, services; but it was never subjected to that species of jurisdiction for any extended period, and has long since been restored to its own government subject only to the prerogatives of the royal power. Craven
Chieti is called from its life and population "Il Napoli dei Tre Abruzzi." The Cathedral has a noble crypt of the eleventh century.
Augustus J. C. Hare - Cities of Southern Italy and Sicily - 1891
In the 1970s the crypt was brought back to its assumed medieval aspect by Mario Moretti, Fine Arts Superintendent for Abruzzo, who did the same at S. Maria di Collemaggio in L'Aquila.
Chieti is the seat of an archbishop, and as such has conferred its name on the religious order of the Theatines, from Teate, its ancient classical denomination; this community having been founded at the instigation and through the indefatigable exertions of its archbishop, Gian Pietro Carafa, better known afterwards as Paul IV, one of the most imperious and restless pontiffs that ever filled the papal throne. Craven
The bell tower withstood the impact of the XVIIIth century earthquakes, exception made for the tip of its spire which was reconstructed in the 1930. Because of its height (65 m) it is the landmark of Chieti.
S. Francesco della Scarpa: (left) fašade; (centre) rose window; (right) dome
Della Scarpa (shoe) is a reference to the Franciscan friars who lived in the adjoining monastery in order to distinguish them from the Discalced Franciscans (this wording was used also at Sulmona). The church is situated very near the Cathedral and records indicate that it was founded in 1239. It retains a medieval rose window. The dome was built after the 1703 earthquake.
Cathedral: (left) interior; (right) baptismal font
Because of the earthquakes which struck Avezzano in 1915, L'Aquila in 2009 and Amatrice in 2016, there are not many XVIIIth century churches in Abruzzo which retain their highly decorated interior as those of Chieti.
S. Chiara: XVIIIth century interior
We also delivered a letter of introduction to the Marchese San Giovanni, Intendente of the province, a very agreeable person; who, at our request, procured a letter for us to an inhabitant of Civita di Penna, where we intended to halt the following night.
August 1st, 1843. We left Chieti with but little regret early in the afternoon; first purchasing some capital straw-hats, which they make better in the province of Teramo than anywhere else. Lear
Move to Ancient Chieti (Teate).
Introductory page to this section
Atri - the Town
Atri - the Cathedral
Borgocollefegato and the Cicolano
L'Aquila - the Vale
L'Aquila - Historical outline
L'Aquila - S. Maria di Collemaggio
L'Aquila - S. Bernardino
L'Aquila - Other churches
L'Aquila - Other monuments
Leonessa - The Churches
Luco and Trasacco
S. Benedetto dei Marsi and Pescina
XVIIIth century Sulmona
Sulmona: Easter Day Ceremony (La Madonna che scappa - The Fleeing Madonna)