Abruzzo’s spectacular Sulmona captivates and wedges itself as a special place in your heart!
Where is Sulmona?
Have you heard of Italy’s Sulmona?
Lucky enough to be invited to spend a few days over Easter in Sulmona for a catch-up with a friend from volunteering days in Thailand, gladly dust off my daypack and set out on my way from Calabria, southern Italy.
Check out how to travel to Sulmona independently in my post: Abruzzo’s Sulmona: Bus, Eat, Sleep.
What to see?
Quaint piazzas, gothic churches, a stunning medieval aqueduct, Easter festivities, and a plethora of shops are a start. But don’t forget the famous Confetti and gastronomic indulgences – also some of Sulmona’s trademarks.
Part 1 of my Sulmona post is an exploring walking guide. And, takes you through a tour of absorbing this wonderful city while experiencing ancient sights.
Cathedrals and Churches
With over 20 churches and a cathedral, you can easily spend a day on a separate walking tour seeking out Sulmona’s religious architecture.
Church of Santa Maria della Tomba
Dating back to the 13th century and considered one of the most important religious buildings of the city, it’s noted that the Church of Santa Maria della Tomba ‘was built on the ruins of an ancient temple of Jupiter‘.
Local scholars also noted that part of where the church was built, later became Ovid’s home.
The building of the Church of San Francesco di Paola and the convent commenced in 1620. Expanded in 1662, was damaged by the 1706 earthquake, and later rebuilt and expanded in 1742.
San Francesco della Scarpa
Completed in 1241, San Francesco della Scarpa along via Panfilo Mazara 13, was expanded with the intent to be “the most important medieval Franciscan church of Abruzzo”.
With its structural collapse over several earthquakes, the rebuilding during the 18th century no longer resembles the Angevin period.
Another side of Sulmona
Cross the Ponte Capograssi (bridge) to Sulmona’s eastern side for a contrasting and contemporary taste of this diverse city.
Iron and hand-carved wooden sculptures from the 2000 & Beyond – Opera di Franco Iezzi sit in a small park that provides a respite spot amidst apartments and more shops.
For world peace day, an identical sculpture of Sulmona’s 3 rings resides in Bethlehem (Palestine), uniting both cities in peace. The impossibly perched rings signify the three monotheistic religions: Jewish, Christian, and Islamic.
Another son of Sulmona and remembered with this impressive Bust – Giuseppe Capograssi the philosopher, jurist, and member of the Constitutional Court.
You can find the Bust on your right after crossing Ponte Capograssi.
Towering snow-capped mountains continue to envelop Sulmona wherever you stroll in this elegant city.
Ambling through Sulmona’s streets, you can’t help but notice many shops and stalls bursting with glossy vividly-coloured flowers, lady beetles, and other curios. They’re all edible and named Confetti.
Famed for the traditional confectionery, Confetti – sugar-coated almonds – Sulmona is home to these scrumptious sweets, which are typically handed out on special occasions such as weddings and baptisms.
These days Confetti are bite-size artful creations and different from when I was growing up. Only pastel pink, blue, yellow, and of course white, were available in Australia.
Stop at La Confetteria Del Corso along Ovidio N. 170, for a gourmet selection of Confetti too pretty to eat. Or, why not visit the world-famous Pelino Confetti store and museum? In operation since 1783 and still in the confetti-making business.
Loads of these delicious crunchy morsels containing chocolate and unusual berry selections tempt the passerby, with their vibrant displays dazzling quaint shop windows and entrances.
On first setting eyes on these beautiful and alluring multicoloured works of art, you think they’re not edible, and only for decoration. Think again. Every tiny skerrick of these delightful shapes is edible.
I defy anyone to leave Sulmona without something confetti – just too irresistible!
Sulmona offers wonderful candid street scenes, which I’m sharing a few with you today.
Terre D’Amore setting up against an ancient backdrop for an intimate concert later in the evening. Events run from April to September.
Splendid ancient and picturesque alleyways await those that dare to deviate from timeworn Corso Ovidio.
An extremely photogenic city, Sulmona offers numerous alluring photo opportunities.
The Easter period offers many interesting activities in Sulmona to fill your hours.
Including, a marvellous unexpected light show tonight.
Not knowing that Sulmona is hosting the Lamp On – Simone illumina la città superb light show this evening, only realised this by the colourful signs dotted around the city, hinting that this event is not to be missed.
Lamp On is a fundraiser to buy a new ultrasound machine for the CPR department in Sulmona’s hospital. And, to “celebrate the life and passion of Simone Lotito”, who passed away 5 months ago. The 22-year-old Simone was a photography and light technician that illuminated Sulmona. The city mourned Simone’s death.
The dramatic light show starts with a walk from Piazza Tresca and continues along Corso Ovidio. As hordes gather in unison, sections of the city become alive with breathtaking light displays, illuminating Sulmona’s ancient monuments.
This video by MajaMé Musica Teatro Danza gives a taste of the preparation and the night’s event, although it’s in Italian.
Day trips from Sulmona
Sulmona is an excellent base from which to explore Abruzzo and offers a plethora of day trips for your enjoyment.
If you have a couple of days or even just half a day to spare for sightseeing around Sulmona’s outskirts, then make your way to the quaint sleepy village of Gagliano. At just over half an hour away, this village is definitely not on the Abruzzo milk run and offers a truly local relaxed feel. Separate post to come on Gagliano.
An unusual day trip but also for the military buffs out there, take time to venture to the infamous Campo 78. Sadly, I only discovered information about Campo 78 after leaving Sulmona.
This ex-POW camp held prisoners captured in North Africa during WWII – as many as 3,000 British and Commonwealth officers. And, also Austrian prisoners during WWI.
Although Sulmona is beckoning to stay a while longer, it’s a little too expensive over Easter – need to return to Calabria’s Cosenza.
Sulmona to Naples
Today, the pseudo-Flix 11:00hrs bus arrives on via Mazzini Ospedale 15 minutes late and is completely full.
Only half an hour into the journey, the bus veers off the highway and stops for the 20-minute coffee break.
Scheduled to arrive in the Naples’ Metropark Centrale at 13:50hrs, hope that this bus isn’t late as the connecting bus to Cosenza leaves at 16:15hrs.
Naples to Cosenza
The second Flix bus leaves Naples at 16:15hrs and settles in for the journey along the long highway south to Cosenza.
On this trip, the Flix bus ticket comes with a 10% discount voucher for food. Although stopping at the Autogrill Sala Cosilina Ovest, we discover that the discount voucher isn’t valid.
Expect to stop at the Autogrill for 20 minutes before you’re on the road again. The conductor hands out a tiny packet of snacks with a plastic cup filled with water.
I suggest that you bring your own food for both bus trips, or at least buy something at the train station in Naples.
Changing at the out-of-the-way Firmo interchange along the highway, we swap buses for the remaining 40-minute bus trip to arrive in Cosenza’s Autostazione at 20:30hrs, only 10 minutes late. Impressive for 3 bus trips in one day in southern Italy.
If you want to know how the bus trips getting from Cosenza in Southern Italy’s Calabria went, then check next week’s post – Abruzzo’s Sulmona: Bus, Eat, Sleep.
After only spending a few days in this marvellous and memorable city, there’s still so much more to discover than what I’ve shared in this post. Must return one day.
More Sulmona chapters
Check out more of my Abruzzo posts for great free travel tips and fabulous photos!