Around Santa Maria in Paganica
The area of Piazza Santa Maria Paganica is located in a junction between Via Garibaldi, the streets of Corso Vittorio Emanuele and the streets leading up from Piazza Palazzo. The monumental Church of Santa Maria Paganica which still bears obvious signs of the earthquake is located in the square. The church owes its name to the village of Paganica, today a village whose inhabitants contributed to the foundation of the city in the XIII century. In 1902 it was declared a national monument. The church was severely damaged by the earthquake and work has not yet begun. The main façade, facing Via Paganica, is characterized by a balcony with two lateral ramps. In axis with the portal are a small rose window and a square shaped window. The square is located in one of the highest points of the city and is surrounded by prestigious buildings such as Palazzo Ardinghelli, Palazzo Carli Benedetti, Palazzo Cricchi and the native homes of Buccio di Ranallo and Iacopo of Notar Nanni. Palazzo Ardinghelli was one of the first buildings to be built in 1732. With the death of Filippo Ardinghelli, all the family members died before the completion of the works and the palace passed onto the Cappelli family, undergoing remarkable alterations over the course of centuries so much so that the present façade in late baroque style was only completed in 1955. The Palace is set to become the headquarters of MAXXI, the National Museum of the Arts of the 21st Century in Rome. Palazzo Ardinghelli is a single complex with the adjacent Palazzo Cappa Camponeschi also called Palazzetto Colantoni Cappelli. The structure originated in the fifteenth-century, the designer intended it to have been incorporated into Palazzo Ardinghelli, as can be seen from the present asymmetry of the facade of the palace. It is characterized by a medieval portal with an acute arch and four lovely double lancet windows, two on the side of via Paganica and two on that of the Piazza with ogival arches. It was built by the Camponeschi family in the 14th century as a country residence. Initially the structure consisted only of a small building on the corner between via Paganica and piazza Santa Maria Paganica, then extended to Via Garibaldi. The stylistic difference between the two parts is clearly visible in the different facades. The one on Via Garibaldi, framed by heavy buttresses and with a flamboyant string course frame on which there are six neoclassical windows; the one on via Paganica presents an eighteenth-century portal with an entry space that recalls the neo-Renaissance architecture of Palazzo Cappa Cappelli, another family residence placed on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. Also on via Paganica is the imposing Palazzo Lely Gualtieri, which dates back to 1700. It has been renovated and has returned to its original splendour. It is open to the public and used for numerous cultural events. Taking via Garibaldi, you cross the heart of the town’s nightlife in Piazza Chiarino where there are cafes, restaurants and small shops. Going further along the road, the name changes to Via dei Porcinari, you will find Piazza San Silvestro, where the Church of San Silvestro is located. Continuing from via San Silvestro towards viale Duca degli Abruzzi you arrive at the city walls, where you will find a lovely shaded area with trees and comfortable benches from which you can enjoy the beautiful view. From there you go down to Porta Branconia, also known as Porta Branconia or Collebrincioni, one of the nineteen gates of access from the walls of L’Aquila. The Walls constitute the ancient circle around the city and represent the border of its historic centre. Building started from the 13th century and still largely conserved today, they have kept the original shape despite numerous modifications due to collapses caused by frequent earthquakes and demolitions of an urban nature. They cover more than 5.5 km and include an area of about 157 with tens of thousands of inhabitants. Porta Branconia is the reference point of the area of San Silvestro. At the opposite end of town, at the southern end, is Porta Roiana. It consists of a simple arched stone ashlars. . The gate, walled perhaps since 1378, was later reopened as a lookout point towards the Gran Sasso mountain chain (although it is not accessible from the outside) and is preserved in a good state of conservation. Its name comes from the family that settled in the area in the fifteenth century.