Castel di Ieri is a small, ancient and graceful medieval village of Abruzzo, perched on the coast of Monte Urano within the Sirente – Velino Regional Natural Park, which overlooks the vast territory of the Subequana Valley.
The town has one of the most typical historical centres with the traditional “spindle” structure of the streets in the centre and the majestic square tower that dominates the ancient village and from which you have a unique view of the whole town and the whole valley.
Despite its size, Castel di Ieri has been of great strategic importance for many centuries. It has a unique archaeological heritage and its history has ancient origins.
Its territory was certainly a Pagus, that is, a rural village inhabited by the Peligni, one of the tribes of the Samnites who fought bitter wars against the Romans from 390 to 312 BC.
It then became the domain of the Romans and was, in particular, the territory of the Roman Tribune Marcus Caedicius. The findings related to these early periods are many: several Samnite and Roman necropolises have been brought to light and, above all, the remains of the majestic Italic Temple of the 2nd century BC, was discovered accidentally in the 1980s.
The temple was probably linked to an oriental cult and it seems that it was built on the remains of a previous temple, dating back to the 4th or 3rd century BC. With this long history, the temple is the oldest archaeological site in Abruzzo.
The present town was formed after the fall of the Roman Empire, during the period of the castles when, to escape the barbarian raids, the populations left the plains and sought more defensible places, such as the hill on which Castel di Ieri was built, and began to build strongholds.
In the Lombard period, the entire territory of Abruzzo was divided between the two duchies of Spoleto and Benevento which in turn were divided into several gastaldati (districts): Castel di Ieri was part of the Duchy of Spoleto and gastaldato di Valva.
The Lombards took over from the Norman kings and the land of Castel di Ieri was occupied in 1150.
The first mention of the name Castellum Ildegerii dates back to 1112, in a bull of Pope Pasquale II. Perhaps the name can be traced back to the family of Lupo di Ildegerii who owned many lands in the Subequana Valley in the years around one thousand.
In 1233 Frederick II of Swabia, King of Sicily, conquered southern Italy and divided the territory of the kingdom into 12 administrative districts, called provinces. Among these there was the province of Abruzzo which corresponded, more or less, to today’s territory, to which Castel di Ieri also belonged and which had as its capital Sulmona.
Then, during his reign, Charles I of Angio, of the Angevin family and King of Sicily, decided that the province of Abruzzo was too extensive to be well governed. So on October 5, 1273, with the “Diploma of Alife”, he divided the territory into Abruzzo Ultra or Ulterior, north of the Pescara river and Abruzzo Citra or Citiore, south of the Pescara river.
At the beginning Castel di Ieri was inserted in the territory of Abruzzo Ultra, but then in 1320 it was added to Abruzzo Citiore.
In 1439 the famous leader Giovanni Simonetto of “Castel di Pierio”, evidently a correction of “Ieri”, was in the service of Pope Eugene IV and with 600 horses participated in the war between Ferdinando d’Aragona and the duke Giovanni d’Angiò. This marked a certain power and a remarkable resourcefulness which were then typical characteristics of the mountain Abruzzese.
In 1463, Castel di Ieri became a fiefdom of the Piccolomini, belonging to the county of Celano, and in 1496 it was attacked by troops from Aquila, loyal to the King of France Charles VIII, to annex it to the territory of L’Aquila.
In 1505, the territory became a fiefdom of the Duchess of Amalfi, Constance of Aragon Piccolomini, and in 1527 it passed to the Celano family.
The Celano kept it for almost a century and then annexed it to the Duchy of Zagarolo (1629), to Pompeo Colonna, prince of Gallicano (1633), and then to captain Domenico Antonio De Santis (1656).
In 1661, Castel di Ieri became a royal possession. In 1854 it was detached from Goriano Sicoli, becoming an independent municipality.
On October 21, 1860, in the municipal chancellery, the 230 citizens entitled to vote voted “in plebiscite” to want “Italy one and indivisible with Vittorio Emanuele the constitutional king, and his legitimate descendants”.
In 2009 Castel Di Ieri was hit by a violent earthquake that damaged numerous buildings. But already in 2011 a solemn religious ceremony inaugurated the “rebirth” with the reopening of the damaged and restored buildings.
The territory is well known by sportsmen: in fact, trekking is practised in the area on the Sirente and Velino mountain ranges and there is horse riding along the horse trail of the valley, and a network of paths allow you to walk the whole territory on foot or on horseback.