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    Pacentro

    Description: 
    Pacentro lies in the Apennine Mountain Range on a plateau consisting of small hills 2133 feet (or 650 meters) above sea level. The castle sits on one hill (Colle Castello) at one end of town and the other hill (Colle San Marco) is where the old Church of S. Marco used to sit. The town is just below Mount Morrone and just above the Peligna Valley (Conca Peligna) and the City of Sulmona. Pacentro is part of the Majella National Park (Parco Nazionale della Majella) and is renowned for its springs and fresh mountain water that comes from the snow of the Majella. <!--break--> -----History---- The village has documented origins back to the 9th or 10th centuries, but the area was known as a mountain retreat since Roman times. <!--break--> Pacentro is one of several towns in the area with a medieval castle due to its position at the entrance of the strategic San Leonardo mountain pass to Pescara. The original castle was controlled by the Counts of Valva. There are writings of the era that mention a certain "Gualterio, son of Manerio, Count of Valva", who lived in the Castle of Pacentro in 1130. The castle in its current form dates from the 14th century and was built by the Cantelmo lords. It is partially ruined but is still preserved with three of the four towers mostly intact. The castle was sold by the Cipriani-Avolio family to the town government in 1957. It is now being restored and will be opened as a tourist attraction. Another resident of Pacentro was Pope Celestine V. This pope, originally known as Pietro da Morrone, was a 13th-century monk-hermit of the Benedictine order who lived in a cave in the nearby mountains and was renowned for his holiness. He was elected pope by acclamation in L'Aquila in 1294, but was the only pope to resign after a reign lasting only several months. His image can be seen on a medieval fresco in a lunette on the facade of the Church of San Marcello in Pacentro. <!--break--> Through its history, the town was successively in the feudal domain of several powerful families. Jacopo Caldora and his son Antonio controlled Pacentro from the late 13th century until the defeat of the Angevin Kings of Naples in mid-15th century. The Neapolitan branch of the Orsini family took control in 1483 and as allies of the Catalan-Aragonese Kings, they were wealthy enough to extensively remodel the castle and expand the town. For the brief period of 1613-1624, Capitano Barone Antonio Domenico De Sanctis from the nearby town of Roccacasale ruled Pacentro. However, due to insolvency, his feudal domain was dismembered and sold off to creditors. In 1626, the Colonna family purchased the fief and added Count of Pacentro to their many titles. In 1664 Maffeo Barberini purchased Pacentro from the Colonna (the family of his mother, Anna Colonna). Maffeo's granddaughter Cornelia was the heir to the Barberini estate as the male line had died out. When she married Giulio Cesare Colonna di Sciarra in 1728, the two houses were united as the Barberini Colonna di Sciara family. By the mid-18th century, financial reasons caused the Barberini to sell the fief to marquis Francesco Recupito di Raiano, whose family lost their feudal rights with the abolition of feudalism by King Joseph Bonaparte in 1806. The local nobility and gentry often controlled most local affairs while their masters generally remained in Rome, Naples or L'Aquila. An example of this is the 17th-century nobleman, Orazio Rossi, who was Luogotenente (or Lieutenant) of the Marchese Recupito di Raiano. Pacentro was also united politically with the nearby towns of Cansano and Campo di Giove for much of the 18th and early 19th century due to their common ownership by the same Feudal LordOne of the 30 or so small towns that dot the valleys and hill tops of Abruzzo. With populations ranging from 400 to 2000, each of these villages are unique and offer local color that justify a visit. Some will have a single Central Bar where the town congregates daily, <!--break--> Others will have a couple cafes or pizza places and possible a small hotel and some B&B's.
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