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Carsoli is a municipality with 5,607 inhabitants situated in the Abruzzo region within the province of L’Aquila, belonging to the Marsica 1 mountain community.
. It is situated in a geographical position on the border between the Lazio and Abruzzo regions; in fact, it is the headquarters of one of the four industrial districts of the Abruzzo Region. By virtue of this excellent location, following the opening of the A24 motorway (1970s), Carsoli was subsequently influenced by an interesting phenomenon of industrial expansion. There are many companies, some are extremely important and of a high technological significance, which have their headquarters in this territory. Yet during recent times, the establishment of high standard accommodation facilities has characterized this area also from a tourist viewpoint, thanks to the itineraries through the surrounding woodlands as well as the quality of the air in this area. The administrative centre is divided into an area close to the motorway exit which is known as the commercial area, in which there are several shopping centres and accommodation facilities, and then there is the town centre which extends in a rather linear form with reference to the most ancient part of the town where the ruins of Orsini castle and therefore the Old Fortress can be found.
According to some, the place name "Carseoli" states that the town had oriental, more precisely Semitic origins: it probably originates from the Hebrew language meaning "the city of the fox “or "of the wolf "; while, according to others it derives from the Latin "castrum solis" which means "sun-drenched fortress ". The ancient Carseoli was situated on the via Valeria at approximately 63 km from Rome, 3 km west of the current Carsoli, probably in the "Piano della Civita", where numerous remains of the ancient city have been found. Carseoli was subjugated under Roman rule at the end of the 4th century B.C. and it represented an important fortified outpost against the Marsi attacks. At the beginning of the 2nd century A.D., with the division of Italy into 17 provinces as desired by Hadrian, Carseoli became part of the province of Marsi. The fall of the Western Roman Empire brought Carseoli into the sphere of influence of the Lombards: their continuous raids caused devastation and destruction. Despite this, in the 7th century, Paolo Diacono in the work entitled Historia Langobardorum, spoke of the "Carseoli" as one of the main cities of the Valerian province, an area that had become part of the Duchy of Spoleto. The arrival of the Franks upon Italian territory brought about a great reduction in Lombard property; in particular, the Duchy of Spoleto was significantly reorganised and the County of Marsi officially became part of the Marsica-Carseoli area between the end of the 9th and the beginning of the 10th centuries. Between the 10th and the 11th centuries, Carseoli was also called by the name "Sala", a concession made at that time by the powerful Subiaco Abbey. As from February 993, Rainaldo, Count of Marsi resided in Carseoli and his son Berardo together with his brother Gualtiero donated a great deal of property and land to the Monastery in Subiaco including St. Mary’s Church, later called "in Cellis". With all probability, it was thanks to the Count of Marsi who empowered and encouraged the construction of St. Angelo’s Castle, situated on the hill with the same name overlooking what today is known as Carsoli. The place name Cellis, remained only for St. Mary’s Church, in the form of Celle Carsolarum or more simply, Celle; this name was mentioned in the most ancient documents regarding the built-up area that was gradually being established on the slopes of Colle Sant'Angelo (St. Angelo’s hill) around the castle-enclosure; later on, it would have been permanently called only Carsoli. Berardo and Odorisio’s successors divided the territory among themselves; one of them resided in the castle in Oricola, another in Colli di Montebove, the third in the church of St. Angelo alle Celle. Gradually, many plots of land were donated, by the same counts, to the monasteries of Farfa, Subiaco and Montecassino, which took over from the legitimate feudatory, at least until the Swabian era, when Celle, under the domination of Barbarossa, was besieged and occupied by force of arms. According to a traditional story told in this area, in the 12th century, Carsoli hosted St. Francis and, towards the end of the century, it witnessed the passing of Conrad of Swabia and Charles I of Anjou. According to some scholars, this latter figure brought about the construction of the church of St.Vittoria. Once it had passed under the administration of the county of Albe (Tagliacozzo), Carsoli therefore became a fief firstly belonging to the Orsini and then to the Colonna families as a seat of barony, remaining under their power until 1806. In 1656, the plague caused many deaths in Carsoli, which, over the course of a few months, caused a great reduction of its population from 1,600 to only 300 inhabitants. The second half of the 17th century was characterised by the tyranny of a local squire, Giovanni Festa, against who, in 1686 a violent popular uprising broke out. Carsoli was involved in all the political and social issues of both the 18th and 19th century, especially because it was on the border with the Papal State; Over the past decades, Carsoli has seen its role and economic importance undergo an important transformation, especially with the creation of a significant industrial estate as well as the opening of the motorway.
Carsoli rises in the furthest eastern part of the Piana del Cavaliere (The Valley of the Knights), a valley which is closed towards the East and open towards the West. The municipality is situated 7 km from the border with the Lazio region. The town is located between 600 m above sea level (the new part) and 650 m above sea level (the old part) and it is crossed by the river Turano. It is situated in a basin and one of the most interesting climatic characteristics of this area and which occurs in every season, is the significant difference in temperatures during the daytime: when the sky is clear, there is a gentle breeze and a high relative humidity value that can reach a variation of up to 20 °C, the luxuriant vegetation and the predominant greenery are contributing factors that increase the heat transfer and humidity rates during the day, enabling a significant, rapid evapotranspiration. The wettest seasons are autumn and winter, while in spring and summer there are often violent storms. The average annual rainfall is approx. 1,100 mm and it is among the highest values within the province of L’Aquila, thanks above all to the opening of the valley towards West, which, in this way benefits best from the humid winds blowing in from the West. With cold air at ground level, in winter, temperatures reaching as low as -10 °C can easily be experienced even in the town centre. Generally, the climate is: cool in the middle seasons, not excessively cold in winter and not extremely hot in summer. This area, with a weather front in the West, benefits from abundant rainfall, while the flow of cold air coming from the East, the days are typically clear, with a low relative humidity and strong winds coming from the mountains located behind the town, determining a moderate rise in air temperatures. A moderate amount of snow falls, due to the fact that the town is not situated at an extremely high level and mainly with weather fronts coming in from the West. The town generally benefits from a quite sunny location.
The Church of Santa Maria in Cellis (Our Lady in Heaven)
1st February 1000, the Count of Marsi Rainaldo II, son of Berardo I, founded the Monastery of Sanctae Mariae in Cellis, in the Carsoli area and Dodone established himself there as its abbot. In December 1060, it permanently passed into the hands of the monks in Montecassino and remained so up until the beginning of the 17th century. At the end of the 15th century, the priory was entrusted as a simple benefice to lay priests who paid a fee of 12 gold ducats: the last prior whose name is known was Father Annibale Caracciolo of Albe, appointed on 3rd November 1600. During the Renaissance, the church was adorned with a portico at the front, while around the second half of the 17th century, the same church, in a state of total abandonment, suffered structural damage which caused the destruction of the presbyterial area and the advancement of the entrance onto the portico with the closure of the three arches into which two single mullioned windows and the central portal were subsequently fitted. In 1676, the two side portals were installed into the façade of the church of Our Lady of Victory in Carsoli. The current appearance of the church, situated on the right side of the cemetery in Carsoli, is the result of a re-arrangement process dating back to the 18th century, with the horizontal façade divided by a frame that separates its lower part decorated with a portal and two single mullioned windows (with a 16th century portico enclosure), from the upper part, characterised by the late-Renaissance walled-up window. The portal, which can be dated back to the 12th century, has remarkable vegetal and animal decorations with the architrave decorated with the centralised theme of the Agnus Dei, with the symbols of the four evangelists on the sides. On the left side stands the majestic bell tower, one of the best preserved towers of the Marsica area, with its single, double and triple mullioned windows and its base consists of great illustrated blocks of stone coming from Roman funeral monuments which were originally situated along the nearby via Valeria pathway.
The Church of St. Victoria
The church of St. Victoria, established by Charles I or II of Anjou in the square of the hamlet of Carsoli, was originally quite small; in fact it was enlarged by the University itself, which maintained its promise given to prince Marcantonio Colonna, at the beginning of the 16th century. Following such alterations, today the church is almost two thirds the size of the original structure, as a result of the transformation of such from a Greek cross-shaped plan to that of a Latin cross. It is one of the largest churches within the Diocese of Marsi. It has eight chapels as well as the high altar with spacious choir stalls. The pulpit was created by Master Gervasi di Collo who worked many years in the sacristy of St. Peter’s Church in Rome.
Once you have left Carsoli, after several wide hair-pin bends, the view opens onto the hamlet of Pietrasecca. It is situated on the top of the Vena Cionca resurgence, above the Marino Valley and its original use for defence purposes becomes immediately evident. Its origins date back to the early Middle Ages, a period in which the merging of the inhabitants of the valley area with those of the ancient settlement of Luppa took place; the ruins of Luppa can still be seen, at a height of over 1000 metres, not far from the current hamlet. A trip focusing on the historic and architectural aspects of Pietrasecca takes you beyond the modest external expansion to the historic town centre, through narrow, suggestive covered underpasses where carved stone arches can be seen. Here, the 19th century palazzi with stone portals are a fine sight to behold and, at the corner of via Palazzo, it is possible to admire a building with its portal in pitch-faced stone, decorated with stone-framed windows dating back to the late Renaissance period. Once you have left the town, you immediately come to a crossroads from which you can take a convenient little road that, after about 2 Km, takes you to the Luppa castle walls. Not much remains of the castle, however, the panorama that you can enjoy from here is breath-taking.
Carsoli - The Old Town
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Pro Loco Carsoli
Pres. Roberto Salera
Via Tiburtina Km 69.300