Crecchio is located about 10 km from the Adriatic coast in the central part of the Abruzzo region, in the province of Chieti. Crecchio is easily reachable from the A14 motorway (Ortona exit), the main Italian traffic artery of the Adriatic coast.
Once off the motorway, the direction to follow is towards Guardiagrele where the high tops and deep gorges of the Maiella beckon inland. Crecchio territory is extended for about 7.5sq mi and the inhabitants are called Crecchiesi.
Historical sources date Crecchio back to at least the 11th century, and archaeological findings suggest it was inhabited at least since the Roman era. Crecchio is first mentioned in the XI century and under the Anjou was an important citadel.
If you want to find out more about Crecchio and its story, Walter Nanni made an Italian documentary about the medieval town, which video presentation can be shown here.
A cena con i Bizantini (Dinner with the Byzantines)
Along the small lanes of the historical hamlet, representative of the old crafts and scenes that belongs to ancient times are brought alive during this 3-days festival to evoke the Byzantine time in Abruzzo.
A medieval appointment is replicated year-after-year where you will be the guest of Vasilisa (the local lady) while tasting delicious and generous portions of food prepared according to the old byzantine recipes that Crecchiesi preserved and handed over along generations.
Crecchio has 5 plazas, and all of them are setup with stands serving different courses; your journey begins from Piazza Castello where starters are served down to the recess just underneath the Council house where wine and sweet can be tasted. All food is paid at the local stand; if you would like to skip one serving, feel free to move to the next plaza while enjoy the street-artists you will find on your way.
First time tourists are expected to buy their own terracotta dishes, whereas those who already took part once can safely bring their original one. Both the bowl and the glass are in fact supposed to be taken away to remember your Abruzzo holidays.
While tasting your food, participants can watch historical representations like the knight battle dueling to save the kingdom, the military parade, jesters and minstrels or they can take part in activities like the clay working made like ages ago.
The castle is – exceptionally – open overnight. The entrance is free, but nobody will blame you for leaving a £5 or £10 tips to help contribe to the heating and electricity expenses that need to be paid by the local presidio of the Italian Archeoclub (a non profit organization).
Crecchio has an historical castle provided with four towers erected on quadrangular base, all perfectly maintained thanks to the restoration works that have succeeded along the years with the most recent immediately after the 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila.
The masonry is made of squared stone on one side, stacked with blocks of compact sandstone. Wall thickness varies from as little as 0.80 meters up to 1.8meters.
The oldest, largest and highest tower has a Norman origin;it was built in the twelfth century and has “recently” been renamed as “de l’Ulivo” (olive tree tower). This name was given from the last owners – the De Riseis’ family – who planted an olive tree at the top of the tower whilst ceasing all the hostility between their predecessors and the local population.
Technically this is the most beautiful yet the only accessible tower of the castle, from which from the summit you will be able to admire the surroundings of the village up to the seaside (during bright and sunny days).
Three levels form the tower; food and stocks were stored in the basement accessible only through a trap door on the first floor. The upper floor and the topmost sighting-floor access is granted by a spiral stairs turning right, a shrewdness used in the past while building military towers that was helping soldiers under attack to defend the castle because intruders were obliged to carry their weapons with the left hand (and the majority of soldiers were trained to use their right hand)
Nowadays the castle hosts the Abruzzo Byzantine and Medieval Archaeological Museum born in collaboration with government institutions and the Crecchio division of the Italian Archeoclub (a non profit organization managed by volunteers whose aims are maintaining and preserving the local historical heritage).
Among the many things, the museum displays byzantine-roman era artifacts found during the archaeological excavation of Vassarella made between 1988 and 1991, and the Kings’s bed. Although the bed is not the original one, the style is exactly the same as Archeoclub strived and found an exact replica among one of the antique shop.
A total of 20 rooms are awaiting your visit in this amazing outstanding-restored and accessible castle, which allows you to see a collection of photos from the last visit of the King or the De Reises’ family, as well as an important Etruscan museum.
The castle is also part of the most recent Italian history: in 1943 the last King of Italy – Vittorio Emanuele III – with his staff while escaping from Rome spent their last night before leaving Italy boarding from the Ortona harbor. A staying that caused more damage than the whole World War.
The surrounding hamlets
Due to the territory extent over 16sq Kms, Crecchio is divided in small hamlets, each of those provided with a local church (in the majority of the cases) and with local traditions.
Out of the many, we believe it is worth mentioning Villa Mucchiarelli and the tradition of St. Anthony which is celebrated on January the 17th each year, when the saint became famous because he routed the devil.
The event starts with preparation rites from the week before ending in the local square with masked people surrounding a fire called “Fuoco di Sant’Antonio”, singing and praying. The celebration ends with free roasted sausages and local wine offered by the local tourism association.
What to see in
- Castello Ducale
- Sanctuary of St. Elisabetta, with a fine XV century statue of the Saint and XIX-century paintings
- Museo dell’Abruzzo Bizantino e Altomedievale, hosted in the castle
Further reading about Crecchio
Although written in Italian, you may read something more about the museum hosted in the castle on the proposed link.
Weather forecast in Crecchio
Eating in Crecchio
If you fancy a night out eating real Abruzzese specialities, we have the right destination for you. We have been able to secure a deal with the local Taverna Ducale, a small family-run restaurant in Crecchio that serves only genuine freshly cooked abruzzese food.
All our guests are entitled of 10% discount on the total bill. Just make sure to book in advance by telling Tonino you are our most welcome guest.