The Abruzzo mountain village of Aielli comes alive with street art, music, and astronomy for the Borgo Universo festival in early August. Just one hour from Rome, Aielli has a 14th century tower that’s now an astronomic observatory, called Torre delle Stelle, and the town’s walls are covered with murals created during the Borgo Universo festival. Attending this festival is a unique opportunity to experience art, music, and food in an off-the-beaten-track village.
Borgo Universo Festival
Borgo Universo is a free festival that takes place in the streets of the village over 4 days in August. The alleys of the town are active starting in the morning and street food events run from noon until late at night, serving typical dishes of the Abruzzo region. Guided tours of the murals, nature walks in the mountains, and live music are all part of the festival as well as nocturnal astronomical observations, solar observations, the planetarium, and the Sky Museum.
The Festival Borgo Universo is organized by people born and raised in the small town of Aielli who believe that when communities, large or small, all work for the common good, the color of life changes for the better, or rather different and lively colors, like those of Borgo Universo. The festival combines street art and astronomy to support the village and its surroundings, with the goal of attracting tourism. This event is a real outdoor museum where people and cultures from all over the world will be the central elements.
In 2017 and 2018, 15 murals were created on the walls of the city center and outskirts, offering a new perspective on the relationship between the earth, the sky and mankind. For the 2019 edition the objective will be to contribute, through further murals, to the realization of the route that will guide anyone through the characteristic streets of the country, up to the Torre delle Stelle Astronomical Observatory in Aielli.
In 2019 more than 25 artists will participate in the festival, running from August 1 through 4. Free camping (with bathrooms and showers) is available during the festival and food is served at the festival all 4 days. See the full schedule and the artists on the Borgo Universo web site and follow the festivities on their Facebook page.
Aielli Travel Guide
Aielli is in the Abruzzo region mountains between Rome and Pescara, on the east coast. Traveling by car on the A25, it’s about one hour from either city. Aielli is on the rail line that runs between Rome and Pescara and train time is about 2 hours from either city. There’s also daily bus service from the central station of Avezzano (25 kilometers from Aielli) where buses arrive from Rome, Pescara, and Naples (including the airports).
Even if you’re not coming for the festival, the village and its surroundings are worth a visit. Aielli has beautiful mountain views and dominates a large valley, which up to 19th century was a lake (the 3rd largest in Italy). Water was drained out of the lake to create fields, a project dating back to the Roman Empire.
Near the village are the Piccolomini Castle in Celano, mountains, and many hiking trails. The Roman archaeological site of Alba Fucens is about half an hour drive to the east. The village of Cucullo is about half an hour drive to the west and the city of Sulmona is less than an hour. Aielli could easily be visited as a day trip from Sulmona.
See our Abruzzo map for more Aielli’s location and more about the region.
This post may contain affiliate links to sites I believe are of benefit to travelers. There is no cost to you but the small amount of revenue helps defer the cost of bringing you this free information.