Around the Spanish Fortress (Il Castello)
The itinerary around the Spanish Fortress starts from Porta Castello, the highest gate of L’Aquila which took on its present form in 1769 to close the city. The gate, which is the reference point of the Spanish Fort area, is in fact located at the eastern end of Via Castello, with Via Garibaldi and viale Don Bosco, it constitutes one of the longitudinal axes of the Renaissance urban plan. The gate is made of brick and the portal is covered in white stone, and on top of the gate are the coats of arms of the House of Austria and Charles V. It was damaged after the 2009 earthquake and was later restored and made usable again in 2011. From it you enter, through Via Pio Iorio, the Natural Park that leads to the Spanish Fort. Walking alongside the moat of the Fortress on viale Benedetto Croce you arrive at viale delle Medaglie d’Oro where the Auditorium of the Park is situated. This cultural structure was created and donated to the city of L’Aquila by the architect Renzo Piano after the earthquake in 2012. The Auditorium is a reference point for cultural activities in the city. From the Auditorium you get to the Fontana Luminosa (Luminous Fountain), gateway to the main street of the historic centre, Corso Vittorio Emanuele called the Corso. Cardo of the renaissance town planning system, the Corso crosses the city lengthwise until you get to Piazza Duomo, after the town square, you continue on Corso Federico II. Flanked on both sides for a long stretch by arcades, it is an entirely pedestrian area. The Corso is a destination for walking, meeting and shopping.
Along the Corso you will find Piazza Regina Margherita, where the Fontana del Nettuno (Neptune Fountain) is located. Continuing the walk you will cross Via Verdi, the road that leads to the Teatro Comunale, the historic public theatre of the city which is home to the Teatro Stabile d’Abruzzo. The theater was inaugurated on May 14, 1873 with a horseshoe-shaped seating area; 57 boxes arranged in three levels and final gallery for about 600 seats. The post- earthquake restoration is in the process of completion. It will soon be returned to the city. From Piazza del Teatro you enter the side entrance of the Basilica di San Bernardino. After leaving the Basilica and entering via San Bernardino you arrive at the junction with Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Corso Umberto, in the place called I Quattro Cantoni. A historical meeting place for the people of L’ Aquila, it is so called because it is a crossroads with four corners belonging to four distinct buildings: Palazzo Fibbioni Lopez, location of the Town Hall of L’Aquila, Palazzo Ciolina, Palazzo INA and the majestic nineteenth-century building, which until 2009 was the site of the headquarters of L’Aquila’s Chamber of Commerce. Continuing along Corso Vittorio Emanuele you will reach Piazza Duomo.