The Province of Teramo is one of four within the Abruzzo region. The province has an area of 752 square miles, but a population of only about 300,000, spread among its 47 towns, with the city of Teramo as its capital. The southwest borders the Province of L’Aquila and to the south is Pescara, while to the east is the Adriatic Sea. The region of Le Marche is to the north and Lazio to the west.
The eastern portion of Teramo contains beautiful beaches, but as soon as one heads west, the fertile plains give way to the foothills of the Apennine Mountains, rising to the highest part of the province, Gran Sasso d’Italia, reaching a summit of 9,554 feet. The valleys and hills are rich in vineyards and olive groves, which begin almost as soon as one ventures inland from the coast. Colline Teramane – the Teramo Hills, has become a trademark and is one of the most significant areas in the region for fine wine and olive oil.
In this part of Abruzzo, in less than an hour’s drive, one can go from the warm inviting waters of the Adriatic to the snowcapped mountains of the Apennines. The peaks of the Gran Sasso define the western provincial border, while those of the Monti della Laga dominate its north. These two ridges are among the most distinctive of the entire Apennine Mountain range. The majestic Gran Sasso’s steeply sloped peak, Corno Grande has gorges that are virtually inaccessible to man. Calderone, the southernmost glacier in Europe, is found nearby. Monti della Laga on the other hand, has thick forests, shallow gorges and several spectacular waterfalls.
The city of Teramo is situated between the mountains and the coast. The town was built at the confluence of the rivers Vezzola and Tordino. Its hillsides and Mediterranean climate are ideally suited for growing both olives and grapes. The town was first established during the 1st millennium BC and some buildings of ancient tribes have been the object of archaeological excavations.
During the Roman era, the town enjoyed a prosperous existence due to its proximity to Rome. It reached its pinnacle under Hadrian in the first century AD and the Emperor had temples dedicated to Mars and Apollo constructed in the city.
Little is known about Teramo during the early middle ages. The city was destroyed in 410 by the Visigoths under Alaric I and after the sixth century Gothic War, the city became the possession of the Byzantine Empire. It was an unstable time for the people of Teramo who continued to work the lands, as opposing forces came and went. In 1129, the city was conquered by the Normans and in 1140, it became a possession of Roger II of Sicily, the first King of Sicily. During the strife following Roger’s coronation, Teramo was destroyed by an army led by his son-in-law, Robert II of Loritello. Only the tower of Piazza Sant’Anna was saved from this sack. From that moment onward it became known as Torre Bruciata (burnt tower).
By the 14th century, it was the Church that ruled the area. Under the ecclesiastical leadership its bishops, Teramo’s economy surged. It was a period that saw the construction of castles, churches, cloisters and palazzos, along with the great privileges granted by the sovereigns. However, the following century saw a power struggle erupt between the city’s two factions, the powerful De Valle and Melatino families. The hanging of 13 followers of the latter’s family is still memorialized in a stone shield at the very center of the city. The monument represents two heads with their tongues out under the writing A lo parlare agi mesura – mind what you say!
Following the War of the Spanish Succession in the early 18th century, the Habsburg dynasty ruled the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Napoleon took possession of the province for nine years, ending in 1815, when it reverted to the Kingdom of Naples and later the Kingdom of Italy.
A visit to the city of Teramo provides several fascinating historical sites. Its Duomo, the Cathedral of Saint Berardo, was built in 1158 by Bishop Guido II in the Romanesque style. It has a portal in Gothic style, finished in 1332 by the Deodato di Cosma. It houses a silver antependium by Nicola of Guardiagrele, with 35 scenes of the life of Jesus and a large polyptych by the Venetian artist Jacobello del Fiore depicting the Virgin Mary placing a crown upon the head of Jesus. There are also the remains of a Roman theatre built c. 30 BC and an amphitheater from the 3rd-4th century AD only steps away from the Duomo.
Heading to the Teramo Coast, visitors arrive at the longest riviera in the Abruzzo region, stretching for 75 miles from the Marche border to the Province of Chieti. It is an oasis of art, relaxation and natural beauty. Known as the ‘Seven Sisters,’ it features mile upon mile of golden, sandy beaches and beautiful villas. The seven towns comprising this popular vacation area are Martinsicuro, Alba Adriatica, Tortoreto, Giulianova, Roseto degli Abruzzi, Pineto and Silvi.
In addition to the lovely villages, the lush nature and marvelous shores are also home to intriguing historic monuments. In Pineto, there is the ancient tower on the beach called the Torre del Cerrano. Set among the sand and coastal pine trees, it rises as a sentinel and reminder of the Kingdom of Naples from centuries past. In the same area, though immersed in the sea, is an ancient Roman port known as Hadria. It is a popular excursion for scuba divers, since the ruins lie in very swallow waters. In the expanse of land between the Rivers Trigno and Tronto stand numerous watch towers dating from the 16th century. Visitors will find the Tower of Carlo V in Martinsicuro and the Torre della Vibrata in Alba Adriatica, which is also well-known for its beautiful Spiaggia d’argento (Silver Beach).
Through each of the towns, you will find history mixed with modern amenities and visitors are never far from nature. Among the most pristine are the beaches of Giulianova and Roseto degli Abruzzi. Interspersed with the old is the new. There is a waterpark, go-cart track, horse riding stables, night clubs and restaurants for those who want some additional daytime and nighttime activities.
Giulianova is an important community in Abruzzo and it is rightfully famous from a tourist’s point of view. Beautiful wide beaches, a clean and transparent sea and beach resorts, coupled with a fantastic tourist infrastructure and services, make this ideal for a vacation spot for families and groups. The town has ancient origins and is beautiful, not only along the coast, but also in its historic center. It is rich in treasures, such as the defensive tower il Bianco, the largest of the remains of the ancient wall around the city. Also popular with visitors are the Church of Santa Maria a Mare, the shrine of the Madonna dello Splendore and the Chapel of Bartolomei, which maintains a collection of reliefs and sculptures by Pagliaccetti.
The coast is also an ideal place to begin day trips to the many wineries located in the area, because when visiting this portion of Italy, it would be unforgivable not to experience its famous Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine and all of the other delights that the Province of Teramo has to offer.