L'Aquila

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(Redirected from Aquila, Italy)

L'Aquila, 42°21 13°24E, at 710 m (2329 feet) above sea-level, is a city and comune of central Italy, on the Aterno river, with 69,131 inhabitants according to 2003 census figures. It is both the capital of the Abruzzo region and the seat of the province of L'Aquila. Although less than two hours' drive from Rome, the city (laid out within walls remaining from the medieval period) has not yet been heavily affected by foreign tourism. L'Aquila is the site of many electronic industries, and is the home of a rugby team which has been Italian champion many times.

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History

The city was established as Aquila in 1258, with the permission of King Corrado I of Sicily (Roman Emperor Conrad IV), becoming Aquila degli Abruzzi in 1861, and L'Aquila in 1939.

It quickly developed and became the second city of the kingdom of Naples. It was an autonomous city, ruled by a diarchy composed of the City Council (which had varying names and composition over the centuries) and the King's Captain. It fell initially under the lordship of Niccol dell'Isola, appointed by the people as People's Knight, then killed when he became a tyrant. Later, it fell under Pietro "Lalle" Camponeschi, Count of Montorio, who became the third side of a new triarchy, with the Council and the King's Captain. Camponeschi, who was also Great Chancellor of the kingdom of Naples, become too powerful, and was killed by order of Prince Louis of Taranto. His descendants fought with the Pretatti family for power for several generations, but never again attained the power of their ancestor. The last, and the one true "lord" of L'Aquila, was Ludovico Franchi, who challenged the power of the pope by giving refuge to Alfonso d'Este, former duke of Ferrara, and the children of Giampaolo Baglioni, deposed "lord" of Perugia. In the end, however, the Aquilans, always fond of their freedom, had him deposed and imprisoned by the king of Naples.

The power of L'Aquila was based on the close connection between the city and its mother-villages (99, according to local tradition), which had established the city as a federation, each of them building a borough and considering it as a part of the mother-village. The City Council was originally composed of the Mayors of the villages, and the city had no legal existence until King Carlo II of Naples appointed a "Camerlengo", responsible for city tributes (previously paid separately by each of its mother-villages). Later, the Camerlengo also took political power, as President of the City Council. The town became the see of a Metropolitan Archbishop of the Catholic Church.

This period ended in the 16th century, when Spanish viceroy Philibert van Oranje destroyed L'Aquila and established Spanish feudalism in its countryside. The city, separated from its roots, never developed again. It was destroyed, for the third time (the first was in 1258, by King Manfredi of Sicily, while still unfinished), by an earthquake in 1703. Successive earthquakes have repeatedly damaged the city's large Duomo.

Tourist Attractions

L'Aquila's sights include the Forte Spagnolo, a huge Spanish fortress of the 16th century; the Romanesque basilica of S. Maria di Collemaggio (where pope Pope Celestine V was crowned and buried); the basilica of St. Bernardino; and the medieval Fontana delle 99 Cannelle, or Fountain of the 99 Spouts (whose source is still unknown) commemorating the 99 villages said to have established the city. A well-known city landmark is the Fontana Luminosa (Luminous Fountain), a sculpture of two women bearing large jars, built in the 1930s.

The surrounding area boasts Roman ruins (the important Roman city of Amiternum), ancient monasteries, and numerous castles. The best-known of these is Rocca Calascio (used in the 1980s as the location for the movie Ladyhawk), which is the highest castle of Italy and one of the highest in Europe. Also nearby are several ski resorts for Gran Sasso d'Italia, the highest of the Apennines.

Sport

It is the home of L'Aquila Rugby.

External links

fr:L'Aquila it:L'Aquila nl:L'Aquila ja:ラクイラ pl:LAquila ro:L'Aquila

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