Art-history itineraries

Here is a list of places and tours that we recommend for our guests... obviously starting from "our own" Tortoreto.
For more information on excursions and tours from Tortoreto, check out the Municipality of Tortoreto website in the section dedicated to tourist information: Vivi Tortoreto


The town of Tortoreto is rich in history and art. The old town centre of Tortoreto Alta originated in the pre-medieval period. According to a letter from Pope Gregory dated 602 A.D., the site was rich in woods and suited to turtle dove nests, hence the name Turturitus (turtledove). The old town is divided into three zones, Torrevecchia, Terranova and the village which still retains its medieval structure: a walled central fortress dominated by the magnificent Clock Tower. The Tower, entrance doors, narrow little streets, the bridge with the characteristic vaults bear witness to Tortoreto castle.
Torrevecchia is the oldest part of Tortoreto, most likely rebuilt on the ruins of "Castrum Salini". It became a fortified castle with a drawbridge (the loopholes are still visible on the Clock Tower front) castle walls, towers, underground tunnels, palaces of the feudal lord, churches and the houses of the nobles.
Newfoundland was the new castle with only a few entrance gates, lookout towers at the corners of the city for defense and narrower streets to allocate more space to housing.
The village grew outside the castle walls around the 1400s, on a ridge perpendicular to the coast: it ended with a natural terrace overlooking the sea.
From the end of 1300s Tortoreto’s history is linked to the Dukes of Acquaviva in Atri, who ruled until the middle of the 1700s, when the territory passed to the Kingdom of Naples. After the Middle Ages, the population reversed the migratory flow as there was no longer need to fortify the town and so developments began along the flat coast area . Around 1800 the first residential Tortoreto was built on what is now known as via Carducci that leads from Tortoreto Alta to the sea.

What to see around Tortoreto
Clock Tower. The Clock tower in Tortoreto Alta, the beautiful medieval village that is the historic center of Tortoreto. It was built in different stages as is often the case for monuments in our historic centers. The stone and brick base, so-called shoe, dates back to the seventh century, when Tortoreto was founded. The central part of the tower is from the Middle Ages. It was possible to cross the city from this point and even today you can see the signs of the drawbridge. The highest part of the tower was added on at the end of the 1800s and it is this last part that characterizes the tower with its Gothic arches and clock that gave the name to the building.
Church of Madonna della Misericordia (Our Lady of Mercy). In 1347 the plague raged throughout Italy.
Tortoreto survived and wished to thank Our Lady of Mercy by building a church which was constructed in 1348 as a perennial symbol of this event. The Church is adorned with Renaissance frescoes by Giacomo Bonfini.
Church of Sant'Agostino. It is one of the greatest examples of religious architecture in Tortoreto. Built at the end of 1500 and was later extended in 1640. Characterised by a single central nave and vaulted ceilings, the altars are a pure expression of the Baroque style and its interior is embellished with stucco decorations.
The Belvedere. Originally it was a military lookout point, but today it is the best known terrace of the city thanks to the stunning panorama it offers. The view opens out onto a landscape that embraces the coast and the entire area between the Tronto and Tordino rivers.
The Roman Villa. It represents a link between Tortoreto Alta and Tortoreto Lido as it is on the road that connects the two sides of town, surrounded by vineyards, nature and urban life that has increased over the centuries. Among the remains of the Roman Villa you can admire the mosaic floor and ancient utensils alongside agricultural tools.

Teramo ed Atri

This itinerary takes us to Teramo first, the province’s capital. It has a population of about 53,000 inhabitants. The town is located in the northern part of Abruzzo, in the Val Tordino, with its rolling hills at the base of the Gran Sasso that slope down to the coast among luscious vineyards and olive groves.
Between the sea and the mountains, just 20 km from the Adriatic coast and 40 km from the peaks of the Gran Sasso, stands the ancient Interamnia "city between the two rivers" (as per Latin etymology), named so by the Romans as the city is crossed by the Tordino and Vezzola rivers. Teramo is a small town with lots to offer, for a relaxing and interesting stay.
Here you will find boulevards and gardens for long walks, including riverside paths that go from one end of the town to the other, along with monuments and museums to visit. The town is the ideal destination for nature lovers, the Gran Sasso d'Italia mountain range and the Monti della Laga mountains are nearby, offering some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Italian peninsula.

Places of interest in the city are:
- the Cathedral of San Berardo, near the Roman theatre, erected in 1158 A.D. by the will of Guy II. Altered in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and subsequently other works were added until it reached its current appearance hosting eighteenth-century paintings by Sebastiano Majewski. There is a magnificent silver frontal In front of the main altar, by Nicola da Guardiagrele, and the Sant'Agostino (15th century) alterpiece by the Venetian Jacobello del Fiore;
- the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie (Our Lady of Grace), built in 1153 A.D. originates from a Benedictine Sisters monastery church, Sant'Angelo delle Donne with frescoes by Cesare Mariani and a Madonna and Child, in polychrome wood by Sylvester of L'Aquila;
- the ancient cathedral of Sancta Maria Aprutiensis (Church of Sant'Anna) once called the church of San Getulio, was built over a Roman domus;
- the Roman Theatre, built in the Augustan age, one of the most iconic monuments of the city
- the Roman Amphitheater, built at the beginning of the second century AD.
After Teramo, the recommended route takes you to discover Atri. The town is so unexpected, a delightful surprise to discover!
Rich in churches and noble palaces, with an important historical and cultural heritage. Perched on a hill, it overlooks the coast with fabulous views over the the Adriatic Sea and the Apennines with the picturesque view of the Gran Sasso d'Italia. The hills of Atri, whose sandstone has been eroded by time and weathering, offers a very special scenario thanks to the presence of gullies and a nature reserve dedicated to them.
Atri is one of the most beautiful and characteristic towns in Abruzzo, rich in history and culture, a few paces from the sea. It is ranked among the most beautiful villages in Italy. The town has about 10,600 inhabitants, located in the province of Teramo, bordering renowned seaside resorts, such as Roseto degli Abruzzi and Silvi Marina. Of pre-Roman origin, past and the present blend together perfectly without creating any kind of contrast. It sits on a hill at an altitude of 444 m and houses some beautiful monuments within its walls.
One of the best examples of Abruzzo architecture is the Cathedral of the Assumption, dating back to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The facade is made of Istrian stone and inside there are frescoes from the fifteenth century, the cathedral museum is housed in the cloister.
The Church of San Nicola di Bari, dating from the thirteenth century and the Church of Sant'Agostino, of the fourteenth century, are other monuments that enrich the characteristic historic center of the town.
Not only religious buildings, Atri is home to numerous palaces and monuments of historical interest: the Palazzo dei Duchi Acquaviva, also known as the Ducal Palace, built in the fourteenth century houses the Town Hall, the medieval fortress of Capo d'Atri, the remains of the Roman Theatre and the Municipal Theatre, to name but a few.
The old town is perfectly preserved, with its small medieval streets, some so tiny only one person can pass through at a time.
With its six museums, Atri is the town with most museums in Abruzzo; the Ethnographic Civic Museum and the Educational Museum of Medieval and Renaissance Musical Instruments are worth a visit.
On the coast, in the sea in front of the Torre di Cerrano, there are the remains of an L-shaped pier and other masonry works, once the ancient port of Atri, dating back to the eighth century.