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Comune di Guardiagrele
The watchtower (guardia) from which the town's name derives
The watchtower (guardia) from which the town's name derives
Coat of arms of Guardiagrele
Coat of arms
Location of Guardiagrele
Guardiagrele is located in Italy
Location of Guardiagrele in Italy
Guardiagrele is located in Abruzzo
Guardiagrele (Abruzzo)
Coordinates: 42°12′N 14°13′E / 42.200°N 14.217°E / 42.200; 14.217Coordinates: 42°12′N 14°13′E / 42.200°N 14.217°E / 42.200; 14.217
ProvinceChieti (CH)
FrazioniAnello, Bocca di Valle, Caporosso, Caprafico, Caprafico piane, Cerchiara, Colle Barone, Colle Luna, Comino, Melone, Piano Fonti, Piana San Bartolomeo, San Biase, San Domenico, San Leonardo, Santa Lucia, San Vincenzo, Sciorilli, Tiballo, Villa San Vincenzo, Voire
 • MayorSimone Dal Pozzo
 • Total56 km2 (22 sq mi)
576 m (1,890 ft)
 (31 December 2010)[2]
 • Total9,497
 • Density170/km2 (440/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Dialing code0871
Patron saintDonatus of Arezzo
Saint dayAugust 7
WebsiteOfficial website

Guardiagrele (Italian pronunciation: [ɡuardiaˈɡreːle]; Abruzzese: La 'Uàrdije; Latin: Guardia Graelis) is a town and comune in the province of Chieti, part of the Abruzzo region of central Italy. It is in the foothills of the Maiella mountain at an elevation of around 576 metres (1,890 ft). Its population numbers about 10,000.

Captivated by the beauty of the panoramic views of the mountains and valleys of the Maiella visible from some points in the town, the poet Gabriele d'Annunzio nicknamed Guardiagrele 'la terrazza d'Abruzzo ("Abruzzo's terrace").

Guardiagrele is the seat of the Maiella National Park, and was part of the club I Borghi più belli d'Italia (The most beautiful village of Italy).

Main sights[edit]

West view of Santa Maria Maggiore
Portico to the church of Santa Maria Maggiore

The biggest church in Guardiagrele is Santa Maria Maggiore of which it has been written:[3]

The façade presents a splendid 14th-century gothic portal, among the most elegant in the Abruzzi Gothic style. The Coronation of the Virgin sculpture group in the portal lunette is also magnificent, attributed to the school of Nicola di Guardiagrele. Under the colonnaded portico, next to the lateral door, is the splendid fresco by Andrea De Litio (1473) portraying Saint Christopher. In the interior, completely rebuilt in the 18th century following an earthquake, crumbling stucco-work in the Baroque style and a shrine of the same period set off a 15th-century fresco representing the Madonna of the Milk.

In addition to Santa Maria Maggiore, there are several other churches and palazzi or mansions of various ages which are of architectural interest, including S. Nicola di Bari (founded in the 4th century), the convent of the Chapuchins (1599), Palazzo De Lucia (16th century), Palazzo Elisii (15th-18th century), the cloister of the Palazzo Comunale Piazza San Francesco (17th century) and Palazzo Marini (1391).

Museums include:

  • Museo Civico (Civic Museum)
  • Museo del Costume e della Tradizione della Nostra Gente (Costume and Folk Museum)
  • Museo del Duomo ("Cathedral Museum"), in Santa Maria Maggiore
  • Museo Archeologico ("Archaeological Museum").


Crafts next to Porta San Giovanni

Known throughout Abruzzo for its wrought-iron craft, copper craft and gold-work, Guardiagrele was the home of the great goldsmith and sculptor Nicola da Guardiagrele, who was born there in the late 14th century.

The patron saints of Guardiagrele are Saint Donatus of Arezzo and Saint Emidius. Annually between the 6th and 8 August there is a festival celebrating these saints in which the effigy of Donatus is paraded around the streets of Guardiagrele. It is traditional to eat porchetta (oven or spit roasted suckling pig flavoured with pepper, rosemary, garlic and other seasonings) at this time.

In the 11th century Archimandrite Saint Nicholas the Greek led a group of monks fleeing the Saracens who had occupied Calabria. In 1338 his body was moved to Guardiagrele and interred in la Chiesa di San Francesco (14th century). His saint's day is celebrated on the third Sunday of May.

The church preserved in its choirbooks the important Guardiagrele Codex, of polyphonic works by Landini and anonymous composers.



  1. ^ "Superficie di Comuni Province e Regioni italiane al 9 ottobre 2011". Istat. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Popolazione Residente al 1° Gennaio 2018". Istat. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. ^ I Borghi più belli d'Italia

External links[edit]

Guardiagrele (IPA: [ɡuardiaˈɡreːle]; Guardia Graelis in Latin; La 'Uàrdije in local dialect) is an Italian town and comune of 8,940 inhabitants in the province of Chieti, region of Abruzzo. It is the seat of the National Park of the Majella and is part of the mountain community of the Majeletta. Famous for its artisanal products, in particular craftworks of metals, and besides having given birth to Nicola da Guardiagrele, renowned goldsmith, engraver and painter, as well as the popular poet Modesta Della Porta versed in local dialect, it hosts every year, from August 1 till August 20, the “Exhibition of Artistic Handcrafts of Abruzzo”. Guardiagrele was the first city, with the City of Agnone, to initiate the production of the ‘Presentosa’, a typical feminine jewel of Abruzzo, usually set in gold, worn during festivities. Guardiagrele is part of “Borghi più belli d'Italia” (Italy's Most Beautiful Burghs)” association.


Comune of Guardiagrele (emblem) (Picture) View of the comune from Bocca di Valle. Location Country: Italy Region: Abruzzo Province: Chieti Administration Mayor: Simone Dal Pozzo (Civic List of center-left Guardiagrele shared assets) from June 1, 2015. Territory Coordinates: 42°11′21.2″N 14°13′17.73″E Altitude: 612 m a.s.l. Area: 56,4 km2 Population: 8 940[2] (31-03-2018) Density: 158,51 inhabitants/km2 Districts: Anello, Bocca di Valle, Caporosso, Caprafico, Cerchiara, Colle Barone, Colle Luna, Colle Spedale, Comino, Melone, Piana San Bartolomeo, Piano delle Fonti, San Biase, San Domenico, Colle Bianco, San Leonardo, Santa Lucia, Sciorilli, Tiballo, Villa San Vincenzo, Voire Neighbouring comunes: Casoli, Castel Frentano, Filetto, Orsogna, Palombaro, Pennapiedimonte, Rapino, San Martino sulla Marrucina, Sant'Eusanio del Sangro Other information Zip code: 66016 Prefix: 0871 Time zone: UTC +1 ISTAT code: 069043 Cadastral code: E243 License plate: CH Seismic classif: zone 1 (high seismicity) Demonym(s) : Guardiese, Guardiesi Patron Saint: San Donato with Sant’Emidio Saint Day: August 7 Cartography (2 Maps) Location of the comune of Guardiagrele in the province of Chieti. Website:

GEOGRAPHY __________________________________________________________________________________________________________ The territory

(picture) The Western side of the promontory of Guardiagrele; in the back a glimpse of the Majella massif.

Guardiagrele immerges from the hinterland Chietino (region of Chieti), in the Northwestern zone of the province. It extends on top of a long promontory resting on the slopes of the Majella, and is bordered by steep ridges on three sides. The city suffers a high seismicity since it is located in a zone where these occurrences have always been frequent and intense. It is, in fact, encircled by towns that were affected during the earthquake of April 6, 2009, which caused lesions to some houses as well to the San Nicola Greco's church and provoked the partial collapse of the palazzo (residence) Mucci's roof. The territory towards the Majella, east of the residential area, is composed of limestone rocks with irregular valleys and numerous forests. Towards the sea, instead, the topography becomes gradually more regular. There are no rivers of particular importance. The numerous streams are in fact torrents originated from the mountain, such as the Dendalo and the Venna, which after a long course of respectively 22 and 24 km flow into the river Foro. The residential area is located at an altitude of 612 m above sea level. The minimum altitude is 150 meters, the maximum altitude is 1,750, giving an altimeter range of 1,600 meters.


(Picture) Via Roma after the historical snowfall of January 2005.

Guardiagrele Months Seasons Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Spr Sum Fall Win Average max. temp (C.) Average min. temp (C.)

Climatic classification

Climatic zone D

Degree days 1928

Based upon a thirty-year average (1961-1990) as a point of reference, the average temperature of the coldest month, January, is +4.8 °C; the temperature of the hottest month, August, is +23,7 °C. According to the Köppen climates classification, Guardiagrele belongs to the segment Csb, or to the cool Mediterranean temperate climate with mountain influences due the proximity of the Majella massif. The fact that the hottest month is August and not July, is an indicator of a seasonal lag quite elevated due to the proximity of the Adriatic coastline and to the fact that the hilly position of the town allows a minor dispersion of heat than the typical places with similar altitudes but more distant from the sea (as many localities of the Aquilano hinterland, region of L’Aquila). The winters are usually cold, sometimes frigid. Like in all Adriatic regions, flows of cold air coming from the Balkans (called buran) are frequent in the winter months which brings the temperature below 0 °C; often the confrontation of the cold air with flows of moisten air coming from the Atlantic generates snowy precipitations, at time very abundant. The summers are warm but not muggy, and usually do not last very long. Flows of cool air from the Northwest are not rare, even during hotter months, which lower the heat for a couple of days. Heat waves occur more often reaching peaks above 30 °C and lows above 20 °C. The precipitations, not that abundant due to the presence of the Majella massif which protects the town from perturbations coming from the West, averages around 1,000 mm and are more concentrated during spring and fall. Another reason why Guardiagrele has elevated snowy precipitations is its direct exposition to the Balkan's cold currents producing the stau effect with the mountain chain Majella in the back.

ORIGINS OF THE NAME __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

(Picture) Postcard of 1925 representing the Orsini Watchtower also called Lombard Watchtower.

Some local scholars who lived between the 19th and 20th century, such as Paolo Ranieri, Giuseppe Iezzi and Filippo Ferrati, citing ambiguous sources, reported an inscription according which the place name “Guardiagrele” would have origin from Ælion (coming from the Greek Helios, "sole"), and would have evolved then into Grelion (name of a Greek captain, Grelio), Grælium, Grælle, Græli, Grele. Even the writer Gabriele D’Annunzio, in his novel “Il trionfo della morte” (“The Triumph of Death”) talks about Guardiagrele, as an “ancient solar name”, referring exactly to this hypothesis. In more recent time, other explanations were proposed regarding the etymology of Grele. The derivative from the Marrucino dialect word Ocrilist, attribute of Ocris, meaning “high ground”, or again from the Latin character Graelius, translation from Greele, word extracted from the Catalogus Baronum (register of draft ordered by king Roger II around mid of the 12th century). Concerning the word “guardia”, there is no doubt about its origin. It comes from the Germanic word warda or warte, used to indicate a military post of observation. In the book of King Roger II, it is reported of “clerici castri di Guardia Grelis”.

HISTORY __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The territory of Guardiagrele was inhabited since prehistoric times, as revealed by some archaeological discoveries. It was then inhabited by Italic tribes and then by Romans. The establishment of a Lombard military fortification, with the purpose of controlling the area, would be at the origin of the legend which tells about the abandon of the village of Grele and of the creation of a protection post on higher elevation “watching over” the old homesteads. Truly there is no concrete evidence, neither during the Lombard period, to the exception of the diminutive present in the name of a street in the historical center “faricciola”, a term which derives from the existence of a Lombard settlement called “fare”. The first unveiled document mentioning the place dates back to the second half of the 11th century and consists of a decree of Pope Alexander II found among the possession of the San Salvatore a Maiella's monastery, in which it is mentioned of "villa quae vocatur Grele, cum ecclesiis et omnibus pertinentiis suis".

(Picture) Front and back of a ‘bolognino’ of Guardiagrele.

In 1391, king Ladislao of Durazzo conceded to the city of Guardiagrele the authorization to mint coins as an acknowledgement for its support to the king. In 1420, in fact, the city was granted communal autonomy statutes – these important documents are not accessible to scholars by the present municipal administration – starting a long period of conflicts against the numerous attempts by previous landlords to reconquer the city. In 1495, the city was subject to Pardo Orsini who reactivated the minting, coining a copper ‘cavallo’ under his name with the title of Comes Manupelli (see the recent bibliography of Simonluca Perfetto). The following centuries were for the Abruzzese city a period of demographic, economic and cultural decline, also caused by several natural calamities such as the pest epidemic of 1566 and 1656, the periodic famines and the disastrous earthquake of 1706.

In 1799 Guardiagrele was besieged and ransacked by the French troops of the General Coutard, which caused the death of 328 Guardiese citizens. The discontent provoked by the new agricultural reforms introduced after the unification of Italy favored the phenomenon of brigandry among whom the Guardiese Domenico Di Sciascio was one of the most known exponent being the chief of the Maiella Band. Another phenomenon which emerged from this decrepitude was the emigration, particularly towards America and Australia.

WWII left the city with a heavy inheritance, especially in the artistic and architectural patrimony. With the German occupation of October 1943, the population was compelled to flee and take refuge outside the city, while Guardiagrele suffered heavy bombardments from the allies until the liberation of June 1944. After the reconstruction and the emigration of the 1950s, Guardiagrele has experienced a strong economic recovery due to the valorization of the artisanal activities and by the private initiative which has nurtured small entrepreneurship.


The coat-of-arms of Guardiagrele is described in the clause 2 of the article 4 of the municipal statute of Guardiagrele stating:

“The coat-of-arms of the Comune is as described by the Royal Decree No. 652 of June 7, 1943 and is namely composed of a climbing lion holding a red flag, facing a naked child holding in his hand a green leaf, on a light blue background, encircled in a golden shield surmounted by a royal crown with seven small spheres and under which is written: “GUARDIA PLENA BONIS FERT ARDUA SIGNA LEONIS".

(Statute of the comune of Guardiagrele)

According to traditions, the motto of the coat-of-arms "Guardia plena bonis fert ardua signa leonis" was dictated by the Emperor Frederick II of Swabia and inserted in an inscription displayed on the cathedral's façade.

MONUMENTS AND MAIN SIGHTS __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The historical center of the city is well preserved, and lies inside the beltway of the ancient walls, today transformed into fortified housing still bordered by the medieval towers, the Adriana Tower and the Stella Tower, including the access ramp leading to Porta (Gateway) San Giovanni. The Torrione Orsini (Orsini Watchtower) is the only remain of the ancient Lombard fortified city situated nearby Largo Garibaldi (Square Garibaldi) from where departs the main street Corso Roma extending till the municipal park, passing through Piazza Duomo (Cathedral Square) with the Santa Maria Maggiore Cathedral. The other main historical streets are Via Tripio, Via Modesto Della Porta and Via dei Cavalieri which passes through the gothic arched passageway under the Cathedral.

Religious architectures

(Picture) The façade of Santa Maria Maggiore.

(Picture) The tabernacle of the Milky Madonna.

The Collegiate of Santa Maria Maggiore, probably erected on top of a pagan temple dating back to 430 AD and completely built with rocks of the Maiella. It preserves a processional cross of Nicola da Guardiagrele from 1431.

The Church of San Francesco, located in the namesake square, was originally known as San Siro's Church and was conceded in 1276 to the order of the Franciscans who annexed it with a monastery. It preserves the remains of San Nicola Greco.

The Church of San Nicola di Bari is probably the most ancient of the town. Like the cathedral, it was erected on top of the ruins of a pagan temple dedicated to Jupiter.

The Church of San Silvestro, of Romanesque style, it hosts nowadays exhibitions, conferences and concerts due to the desecration in the 1960s.

The Monastery of the Capuchins, founded in 1599 located in the outskirts of the town.

The Church of San Rocco, created in the 1700s following the upraise of the Santa Maria Maggiore.

The Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, located in Via Modesto Della Porta.

The Church of Santa Chiara, erected in 1220.

The Church of San Donato, dedicated to the patron saint of the city. It is situated outside of the residential area.

Civil architectures

(Picture) The façade of the palazzo Vitacolonna.

Casa Marini, ancient minting seat.

Palazzo Vitacolonna, main civil building of the city, located in Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore.

Palazzo Elisii, of baroque taste, located in Via Tripio.

Palazzo De Lucia, elegant residence situated in Via Roma with a portal surmounted by male busts.

Palazzo Liberatoscioli, one among the few examples of Liberty style in Guardiagrele.

Palazzo Montanari-Spoltore. Located in Via Tripio where the painter from Lanciano, Federico Spoltore, resided for a long time and decorated the building with tempera paintings and canvas.

Palazzo Iannucci. Praiseworthy example of civil architecture from the 1600s located in Via Della Penna. Its façade in compound stone is enriched with an arched portal and with simple rectangular windows.

The Marrucian Fountain, made of three arches in bricks divided with small columns in stone dating back to the 18th century.

The Fountain of Grele. Reduced to a state of ruins, it dates back to the 17th century.

Military architectures

(Picture) The Gateway of San Giovanni.

(Picture) The Orsini Watchtower.

The Gateway of San Giovanni, or Gateway of the Fair. It was built in 1841.

The Gateway of San Pietro, located next to the tower carrying the same name.

The Gateway of the Wind or of Grele, the only one to preserve its medieval look of the ancient city walls.

The Orsini Watchtower, emblem of the city characterized by its destroyed top. It is also called the Lombard Watchtower. The name of the structure coming from the family which ruled over Guardiagrele since 1340.

The Adriana Tower, located next to the artisanal workshops at the Gateway of San Giovanni.

The Stella Tower, twin of the Adriana Tower.

The San Pietro Tower, in Via Modesto Della Porta, is the lower part of the bell tower of the San Pietro Celestino's monastery. At the base one can admire the late gothic portal, quite deteriorated.

The Tower of the Gastaldo, in Via San Francesco where the Lombard gastaldo resided.

Archaeological sites

Comino (necropolis).

SOCIETY __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Census of the population.


Demographic evolution.

From 1993 to 1996, the number of emigrants declined to climb back up in 1997 reaching the highest number of emigrants during the years 97-98. After a period of decline, the emigration has increased (in parallel to the immigration) since 2005.

Languages and dialects.

The dialect of Guardiagrele is part of the Abruzzese dialect of Western Chietino type (region of Chieti) characterized by the complete syllabic isochronism. The direct consequence of this phenomenon is the standardized results of the sound –e, and therefore open in closed syllable and closed in open syllable (lu canë, li chénë, but lu pannë, "il panno", ma li pènnë, "i panni").

Ethnicity and foreign minorities.

In January 1, 2010, the foreign presence in the comune reached the number of 552 persons, in terms of percentage, being below the national number but over the provincial, amounting to 4,6% against 5,8% of Guardiagrele. In December 31, 2008, foreigners present in Guardiagrele mounted to 515, from which 240 were males and 275 were females. The nationalities mainly represented are:

Albania – 1067

Romania – 234

Marocco – 121


(Picture)The San Francesco cloister.

The patron saints of the city are San Donato of Arezzo celebrated the 7th of August and San Nicola Greco celebrated the third Sunday of May. The relics of San Nicola Greco, who died between 1009 and 1012, are preserved in the church of San Francesco. The parishes belong to the Archdiocese of Chieti-Vasto, which has seat in the provincial capital. For many centuries Guardiagrele has hosted a large Jewish community. During the Nazi-fascist period many Jews, coming also from Germany, were interned in the nowadays Via Ghetto. At the place where the Jewish community would gather to pray, the administration has posted a memorial placard.

Institutions, agencies and associations.

"SS. Immacolata" Hospital, which is part of the ASL of Chieti. It counts 116 beds.

The seat of the National Park of the Majella (Parco Nazionale della Majella) is located in Guardiagrele.

CULTURE __________________________________________________________________________________________________________


(Picture) The municipal library.


The municipal library “Teodoro Rosica”. It is located in the premises of the ex-church of La Madonna del Popolo.


In the municipal territory of Guardiagrele, there are 7 Pre-K schools (1 private regulated with the township), 4 elementary schools, 1 Middle School and 3 High Schools - High School for Science, Technical Economic Institute (Administration, Finance and Marketing), and Healthcare Biotechnology Institute. The Middle School and the High Schools are grouped under the name of Nicola Da Guardiagrele All-Inclusive.


Museo del costume e della tradizione della nostra gente (Local Costumes and Traditions Museum); Museo del duomo (Museum of the Cathedral); Museo archeologico (Archaeological Museum); Museo dell'artigianato artistico abruzzese (Artistic Handcrafts Museum of Abruzzo).


(Picture) Various copper utensils such as a jug with handle and spout, various tubs and a plate with engraved scenery.

(Picture) Artistic ornament in wrought iron.

The development of the artisanal sector, mainly centered on the craftsmanship of more or less precious metals, is linked to various factors which were present till mid of the 20th century. The need of self-sufficiency due to trading difficulties encountered in the highland areas, the emerging of foreign competitions and the desire of wealthy families to possess luxurious artifacts to affirm their social prestige has greatly influenced the development of craftsmanship which is considered one of the most representative of the region.

Wrought iron and copper.

Wrought iron craftsmanship, originally born as a response to concrete needs, is nowadays vastly practiced as an artistic expression. Not less remote than wrought iron is the craftsmanship of copper which various pieces can be seen at the exhibition house nearby San Giovanni Gateway. Over time, copper artisans, exclusively from Guardiagrele, introduced trade jargons, unique phenomenon in the region of Abruzzo, which attests of the entrenchment of such activities in the town. This form of craftsmanship is today strongly in decline, substituted by the industrialized production. The typical decorative pattern consists in the Greco-Roman style, a continued broken line with alternate perpendicular and parallel segments. It is obtained by hammering the handmade segment on a support, the pry-bar. Violent earthquakes, in particular the one of 1706, forced to modify and rebuild numerous palazzi and churches, preserving the architectural style of the time. WWII had similar repercussion causing multiple damages to the urban architectural patrimony which some are still noticeable.


(Picture) The Tits of the nuns.

The pastry tradition is still in existent today in town (with the Three Peaks or the Tits of the Nuns).

Guardiagrele in the literature.

“…Guardiagrele, the city of stone, was glowing in the serenity of May. A cool wind was stirring the grass in the gutters. Santa Maria Maggiore had through all the fissures, from the base to the gable, some little delicate seedlings, blooming with countless purple flowers, so that the ancient Cathedral was emerging in the cerulean air all covered with flowers of marble and live flowers…”.

Gabriele D’Annunzio in Il Triumfo della Morte (The Triumph of Death).

The city of Guardiagrele was chosen by Gabriele D’Annunzio as the first Abruzzese setting of his novel “Il Trionfo della Morte” (The Triumph of Death), followed by the towns of Fossacesia, Casalbordino and San Vito Chietino. The protagonist of the dannunzian novel, Giorgio Aurispa, goes to the highland city for a matter concerning his noble family. As a matter of fact, Giorgio's father manages the assets of the wealthy family without interest, and thinks only about himself and his mistress, and leaves the other children and the wife in desperation. In the city, Giorgio finds only comfort in the artisticity and in the ancient medieval palazzi (buildings), in particular the complex of the Santa Maria Maggiore's Cathedral. Giorgio observes the miserable state of the citizens of Guardiagrele, wrapped in poverty and in their superstitions against evil and bad luck, and finds only refuge in the solemn and powerful massif of the Majella, which keeps an eye on the little town on the hill. Giorgio will never go back to Guardiagrele, and will leave his family in ruin, being too weak to resurrect the fortune of his corrupted parents. He will go to the coastline with his love Ippolita where he rents a coastal house in the town of San Vito.

ANTHROPIC GEOGRAPHY. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________


The set-up of the urban center follows the conformation of the territory, developing from south to North along parallel streets linked by alleys. The principal roads are Via Roma, the main street which links Piazza del Piano (called also Piazza Garibaldi) to Via San Giovanni, Via Tripio and Via Dei Cavalieri. The urban center is then bordered by occidental streets in the west and oriental streets to the east. In the last decades new residential and commercial centers have developed towards the North, around the Via Marrucina, reaching State Road 81 and towards the Southwest, in direction of Bocca di Valle.

Historical center.

(Picture) Via Roma.

The development of the historical center has occurred totally on the hill facing the Majella in the South, expands downwards in the North, and on the East and the West sides, the slopes are notably steep. This has ensured that the urban agglomeration be completely contained inside the city walls which, although being physically no longer in existence, can still be identified. In the present urban fabric, we can still retrace the various phases of the housing development from the 13th century. Anything prior it is necessary to refer to the local traditions. In the beginning of the 9th century, the urban sprawl would have started at the highest part of the promontory, extending from the Lombard garrison (which existence is not certain) to the San Nicola and San Silvestro's churches. During the 1200s, the urban aspect is more clearly defined due the enlargement of Santa Maria Maggiore's church. New nucleus of power were in fact consolidated: the religious power solidified around the present cathedral, the economic power around the market place near the San Francesco's church and the military power around the fortification.

Largo Garibaldi,

Known also as "Il Piano", it is the biggest square of Guardiagrele. It is located on the highest point of the hill. Its area usually designed for parking, is also the place for markets and festivities. The space is southwesterly bordered by a pinewood area developed during the 1950s where the Orsini Watchtower is located.

Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore.

The area surrounding Santa Maria Maggiore's Square, central place of the town, was outlined in the 1200s during the first enlargement phase of the namesake church.


Bocca di Valle.

(Picture) Exterior of the memorial.

(Picture) Tomb of Andrea Bafilo.

Situated inside the National Park of the Majella, Bocca di Valle is known for the war memorial monument, artwork of Felice Giuliante, built in honor to the Abruzzese soldiers fallen in all wars. The artificial cave, completely carved in the rock, shelters the memorial which preserves since 1923 the remains of the Lieutenant Commander Andrea Bafile, born in the province of L’Aquila and fallen during WWI on the river Piave. Outside the cave, an epigraph dictated by Raffaele Paolucci has been engraved. Inside, there is an altar sculpted by Felice Giulante and the walls are decorated with ceramic panels realized by Basilio and Tommaso Cascella, representing la Pietà, l’Eroe del mare e l'Eroe della montagna (the Piety, the Hero of the Sea and the Hero of the Mountain). Bocca di Valle is furthermore the starting point of many trekking in the Majella Park, such as the walk to the cascade of San Giovanni and the climbing to the "Piana della Civita"; it is also possible to reach the area of "Piana delle Mele", a touristic area marked by the reforestation of black pines.


The district of Caprafico, distant 4,59 kilometers from the center of Guardiagrele, emerges at an elevation of 402 meters above sea level counting 220 inhabitants. It is characterized by the fact that the aerea is divided between several communes: Guardiagrele, Casoli, Palombaro and Pennapiedimonte.

ECONOMY __________________________________________________________________________________________________________


(Picture) Meadow in the district of San Biase.

The agriculture is an important sector of Guardiagrele's economy. In the blooming foothill strips we find olive groves and vineyards. The main cultivars of olive groves in the territory are the "Gentile di Chieti", the "Leccino" and the "Intosso". The production of oil claims furthermore the protected designation of origin “Colline Teatine”. The other crops are the cereals and the legumes, particularly towards Casoli and Lanciano. The winegrowing has experienced in the last years an unrelenting growth in quality as in quantity with products of excellence such as the "Montepulciano" and the "Trebbiano of Abruzzo". Another particularly significant chief sector is the apiculture thanks to the considerable varieties of types like shrub honey, floral honey and arboreal honey.


(Picture) The industrial zone of Piano Venna.

The conformity of Guardiagrele's territory as well the remoteness of the principal infrastructures are not favorable to its industrial development. Nevertheless, small industrial agglomerates are present in the locality of Piano Venna, in between Guardiagrele and Filetto where some companies operate mainly in the steel and leather sectors. Recently the municipal administration has proposed the creation of a road strip to boost Piano Venna, connecting it to the ex-county Marrucina Road 538. Offering job positions in the industrial sector are the companies in the neighboring big industrial zone of Atessa, as such Sevel, manufacturer of commercial vehicles, Honda and Honeywell.


A sector that surely acquires always more importance is the tourism due to the artistic-cultural and natural patrimony of the city. Guardiagrele is part of the National Park of the Majella and is located in proximity of the Passolanciano-Majelletta ski resort. There are many trails in Bocca di Valle heading to the mountain which the most renowned leads to the San Giovanni cascade. The exhibition of Artistic Handcrafts of Abruzzo, which take place every year from August 1 till August 20, attracts a lot of visitors too. There is also an adventure park called the Majella Adventure Park.

INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORTATION _________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Because of its geographical position, Guardiagrele is not crossed by any important infrastructure. The main arterial road is the State Road 81 Piceno Aprutina which links Ascoli Piceno to Casoli, passing through Teramo, Penne and Chieti. Taking the State Road 81, it is possible to join the highway A25 (exit Chieti) and the highway A14 (exit Pescara Sud – Francavilla al Mare). One can reach Guardiagrele from the Ortona and Lanciano exits on the A14.


Until 1982, the region of Guardiagrele was served by the Sangritana Railroad line, through the strip Ortona Marina-Crocetta. The railroad till then allowed people to commute to Ortona (consequently to the Adriatic line), to Lanciano and to the other communes in the Sangro Valley. Its presence has strongly contributed to the socio-economic development of the area. The stations were Guardiagrele (in the Melone district) and Villa San Vincenzo. Nowadays the nearby stations are Chieti, Central Pescara, San Vito-Lanciano and Ortona, and one will have to take then the bus line to reach Guardiagrele.

ADMINISTRATION __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

         Period	           Candidate	           Party	         Function   	Note

Jun 6,1993 - Apr 27,1997 Eugenio Marchesini Civic list Mayor

Apr 28,1997 - Nov 28,2004 Franco Caramanico L'Ulivo 1997-2001 Mayor

                                                       Civic List 2001-2005       Mayor	 

Apr 5,2005 - Mar 29,2010 Mario Palmerio Civic List center-left Mayor

Mar 30,2010 - May 31, 2015 Sandro Salvi Civic List Mayor

                                                       Project for Guardiagrele	 

Jun 1,2015 - in office Simone Dal Pozzo Civic List center-left Mayor

                                                       Guardiagrele shared assets		 

SPORTS __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The local soccer team is the Associazione Sportiva Dilettantistica Guardiagrele (Amateur Sport Association of Guardiagrele) which social colors are dark red and blue. It has reached the classification D in 2004.

The volleyball team is the Cordigeri Volley, which participates annually to the junior championships (under 16, under 14, women under 18 and men under 14) and to the regional championships (first and second divisions). In the 2004-2005 season, the team has played in the classification D, to thereafter fall back in first division. The first women's team has recently competed in the 2016-2017 classification D.