The "city of stone," iron and gold
Crafts and literature in the heart of Majella National Park
What it is and where it is
"Guardiagrele, the stone town, shone in the May serenity. A fresh wind stirred the grasses on the eaves. Santa Maria Maggiore had for all the clefts, from the base to the pediment, certain delicate little plants, blooming with violet flowers, innumerable so that the very ancient cathedral rose in the cerulean air all covered with marble and living flowers." These are the words chosen by Gabriele D'Annunzio to introduce the small village: ancient stones and cultural heritage. But the protagonist of the "Triumph of Death" also admires another treasure of Guardiagrele: the marvelous Majella, which is flanked by a panorama that stretches from the mountains to the sea, from Gran Sasso to the Tremiti Islands.
Why it is special
Guardiagrele stands on a clay ridge and is surrounded by natural scenery of great beauty, but even in its interior one encounters churches and palaces that compel the visitor to stop and admire them in awe. But the golden hands of its inhabitants are not limited to stone. In fact, the village is famous for handicrafts, especially metalworking. It is still home to numerous workshops of the "trades of yesteryear": wrought iron, worked copper, ceramics, turned wood, lacework, stone and jewelry.
Not to be missed
Another feather in the cap of the skills of Guardiagrele's citizens falls in the field of gastronomy. Not for nothing, the town is famous for "Sise delle Monache," a dessert made with two soft layers of sponge cake filled with custard and dusted with powdered sugar. A dessert also called "Tre Monti" (Three Mountains ) because its shape resembles 3 mounds juxtaposed in a triangle to symbolize the 3 peaks of the Majella mountain range under which Guardiagrele stands!
A bit of history
The history of this village can certainly be read in its stones and essays, but there are two folk singers who, using very different means among themselves, better than others have been able to immortalize the authentic soul of Guardiagrele. The first is the goldsmith, painter and engraver Nicola da Guardiagrele, one of the greatest artists of 15th-century Italy who inherited these skills from his fellow citizens who are still the finest craftsmen in Abruzzo. Then it is the turn of the 20th-century dialect poet Modesto Della Porta, whose famous phrasings are quoted in the belvedere dedicated to him.
ThePresentosa, Abruzzo's typical gold filigree jewel, was born right here! It is easily recognized by its star shape with a variable number of points, and in the center one or more hearts adorned with many small spirals. A beauty flaunted especially during festivals and even mentioned by D'Annunzio in "The Triumph of Death."