Celano is a small town just over half an hour’s drive from Sulmona on the way to Rome.
It sits at 800m above sea level on the hillside overlooking the Fucino* basin and is instantly recognisable by its square fortress-style castle which sits at the top of the town.
To the modern eye its location seems a little incongruous however what is now the Fucino basin was until the 19th century a huge lake over 17km long and 30m deep. Many attempts had been made throughout history to drain it (most notably by Emperor Claudius in 52 AD) but it wasn’t until relatively recently that the feat was achieved. The area is now a huge agricultural hub growing grapes and cereals amongst other things.
The main attraction of Celano, apart from the splendid view of the basin below, is the 14th Century Piccolomini Castle. Badly damaged by the earthquake of 1915, the restoration was eventually finished in 1960 and today the castle houses a museum of sacred art.
The Castle is open every day (except mondays) non-stop from 9.00am to 8.00pm so it’s a good thing to do in the middle of the day or straight after lunch. It only costs €2 and for children and seniors there’s no charge. Note that it’s not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs. Here is the website: http://www.museodellamarsica.beniculturali.it
There are also a number of pretty churches, typical shops and quaint side streets to wander around. It’s perfect for a 2-hour visit either side of lunch.
How to get there:
To get there follow the A25 (E80) Rome – Pescara motorway towards Rome and come off at the Celano / Ovindoli exit. You can also get to Celano via train from Sulmona on services towards Avezzano and Rome and there are also buses if you go via Avezzano.
Parking appears to be plentiful around the main piazza and castle areas. Pay at the meter.
Where to eat:
Celano has a number of popular, decently priced, typical restaurants listed on Trip Advisor, a handful of which are in the area around the castle. It’s pretty safe to just wander around and and find one that appeals. We went to La Locanda del Castello on Via Porta Nuova and had a perfectly nice meal for a very good price. You can find it by walking around the pedestrian pathway that encircles the castle.
*Note that ‘Fucino’ is pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable.