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Città di Ortona
A view of Ortona from the sea.
A view of Ortona from the sea.
Ortona is located in Italy
Location of Ortona in Italy
Coordinates: 42°21′N 14°24′E / 42.350°N 14.400°E / 42.350; 14.400Coordinates: 42°21′N 14°24′E / 42.350°N 14.400°E / 42.350; 14.400
ProvinceChieti (CH)
FrazioniAlboreto, Aquilano, Caldari, Colombo, Cucullo, Feudo, Fontegrande, Foro, Fossato, Gagliarda, Iurisci, Lazzaretto, Lido Riccio, Madonna delle Grazie, Ranchini, Riccio, Ripari Bardella, Rogatti, Ruscitti, San Donato, San Leonardo, San Marco, San Pietro, Santa Lucia, Savini, Tamarete, Vaccari, Villa Deo, Villa Grande, Villa Iubatti, Villa Pincione, Villa San Leonardo, Villa San Nicola, Villa San Tommaso, Villa Torre
 • MayorLeo Castiglione
 • Total70.88 km2 (27.37 sq mi)
Elevation72 m (236 ft)
Population (31 March 2018[1])
 • Total23,064
 • Density330/km2 (840/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code66026
Dialing code085
Patron saintSt. Thomas
Saint dayFirst Sunday of May
WebsiteOfficial website

Ortona (Abruzzese: Urtónë; Ancient Greek: Ὄρτων, translit. Órtōn) is a coastal town and municipality of the Province of Chieti in the Italian region of Abruzzo, with some 23,000 inhabitants.

Ortona was the site of fierce fighting between the 1st Fallschirmjäger Division and the 1st Canadian Infantry Division during the Italian campaign in World War II. The ferocity of the Battle of Ortona led it to be known as the "Little Stalingrad". A patron saint of Ortona is Saint Thomas the Apostle (Tommaso), whose relics are kept here.


The origins of Ortona are uncertain. Presumably, it was first inhabited by the Frentani, an Italic population. In 2005, during works near the Castle, a Bronze Age settlement was discovered, and the Roman town largely coincided with this first settlement. Some sections of paved roads and urban walls, as well as some archaeological findings are the only remains of this period. Ortona remained a part of the Eastern Roman Empire (later Byzantine Empire) for several centuries, before it was annexed by the Kingdom of the Lombards. In 803 the Franks incorporated Ortona into the county of Chieti. From that date on, the town remained tied to Chieti and its territory.

In 1258 the relics of the Apostle Thomas were brought to Ortona by the sailor Leone Acciaiuoli. In the first half of the 15th century its walls were built, and during this period Ortona fought with the nearby town of Lanciano in a fierce war that ended in 1427. On June 30, 1447, ships from Venice destroyed the port of Ortona; consequently the King of Sicily at that time commissioned the construction of a Castle to dominate the renovated port. In 1582 the town was acquired by Margaret of Parma, daughter of Emperor Charles V and Duchess of Parma. In 1584 Margaret decided to build a great mansion (known as Palazzo Farnese), which was never completed due to her death.

After the establishment of the Kingdom of Italy in 1860, Ortona became one of the first sea resorts on the Adriatic Sea. On 9 September 1943, the royal family of the House of Savoy left German-occupied Italy from the port of Ortona. The defensive Gustav Line was established by the Germans at Ortona (extending towards Cassino on the opposite side of Italy). Ortona offered the Allies a supply port on the Adriatic and was fiercely defended by the Germans. The struggle between the German paratroopers and the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade attracted the attention of the international press, leading this battle to be known as "Little Stalingrad."

Main sights[edit]

Ortona is home of several touristic beaches and one historical museum based on the battle of Ortona. The Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park is not far either.

International relations[edit]

Ortona is twinned with:



See also[edit]



  • Christie, N. M. (2001). Hard-won Victory: the Canadians at Ortona 1943. Ottawa: CEF Books.
  • Zuehlke, Mark (1999). Ortona: Canada's epic World War II battle. Toronto: Stoddart.

External links[edit]