Sulmona is said to be the prettiest city in central Italy’s Abruzzo region. Set in a picturesque position on a plateau below the mountains, Sulmona is the perfect place to discover the Abruzzo, from its food and culture to small towns and spots of natural beauty that can be visited as day trips.
Sulmona has a huge piazza with a medieval aqueduct above it and view of the mountains beyond, Baroque monuments and even Roman remains. The main street, Corso Ovido, runs across the center of town from the aqueduct to the cathedral and a park that’s a pleasant place for a stroll. Because the town has rivers on two sides, it wasn’t able to expand so the historic center is pretty much still as it was centuries ago.
Where to Stay and Eat
We stayed at the beautifully restored Gramsci 29 Vacation Apartment on the second floor of a historic palazzo. Gramsci 29 is comfortable and quiet and has everything you need for your stay, including fantastic owners who are always willing to help with suggestions to make sure you have a great stay.
If you prefer to stay in a hotel, see hotels in Sulmona, Abruzzo.
We had a fantastic lunch at La Locanda di Gino in Piazza Plebiscito including the traditional maccheroni alla chitarra and local lamb. For more casual dining with typical foods and a great appetizer buffet, go to Hostaria dell’Arco on Via Manlio d’Eramo. We also had an excellent dinner at La Cantina di Biffi, a cozy spot with wines and a small menu on Via Petraraca.
Things to See in Sulmona
- The Baroque Church of Saint Annunziata and 14th century Palazzo complex, on Corso Ovido, is the town’s top sight. Inside the Annunziata Palazzo is the small but interesting Civic Museum with Roman and prehistoric artifacts, paintings, and an exhibition of traditional costumes and household items from the past.
- Piazza Garabaldi is the large main square with a Baroque fountain in the center, ringed by shops and bars. It’s a great place to sit outside for a coffee or apertivo to enjoy the views, people-watch, and soak in the atmosphere. On Wednesday and Saturday mornings a large market with a variety of stalls fills the square. The piazza hosts big events including the La Madonna Che Scappa, on Easter, and the Giostra Cavalleresca in July, a medieval jousting tournament. Next to it are remains of the 12th century aqueduct.
- The Cathedral is outside the historic center at the opposite end of town next to a large park. It was built on the site of a Roman temple. The main church was remodeled in the 18th century by the crypt underneath is Romanesque style.
- Corso Ovido is lined with palaces, churches, cafes, and shops. Many of the shops sell confetti, the sugar-coated almond candy used in Italian weddings for which Sulmona is famous. If you’re interested in learning about its history, head to the interesting Pelino Confetti Factory and Museum, Via Stazione Introdacqua 55 (outside the center). Pelino has been owned by the same family since 1783 and is a top confetti producer.
- In Piazza XX Settembre there’s a bronze statue of Ovid, the Roman poet who was born in Sulmona and from whom the town’s main street gets its name.
- Welcome Sulmona offers several experiences to make your visit more interesting. Currently they offer a foody tour, cooking class, wine tasting, and photography experience. Their web site also has lots of great information about Sulmona.
How to Get to Sulmona
Sulmona is on the rail line between Rome and Pescara (on the east coast), about 2.5 hours by train from Rome. The station is a little way out of town but there is bus service into town or you can call a taxi. Since the trains are regional trains, you may need to validate your train ticket before you board the train.
To arrive by car, take the A25 that runs between Rome and Pescara. Important: At some times of day you are not allowed to park in or enter the historic center – signs are posted and when you’re not allowed to enter, there’s also a light that says â€œattivoâ€ meaning the limited traffic zone is being enforced. There are free parking areas outside the center.
Bus service connects Sulmona to several Abruzzo towns and villages, too.
Places to Go Near Sulmona
- The little town of Pettorano sul Gizio, classified as one of the Borghi Piu Belli d’Italia or prettiest villages of Italy, is just 10 kilometers away. Visit the castle, sit in the square, enjoy the views, and walk to the panoramic point above town where Escher made etchings of the view. This area is also a nature reserve with hiking trails.
- Scanno, about 45 minutes to the south, is one of the most charming traditional mountain villages of the Abruzzo.
- Celano, reached by a beautiful train ride, is a quaint town with a large 14th century castle at the top.
Many more villages dot the mountains and there are plenty of hiking trails for those who want to explore the Abruzzo’s natural beauty.