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Rosello is a small, characteristic mountain village in the Abruzzo region of Chieti. Perched on a cliff almost a thousand meters high, it is surrounded by thick woods and the village overlooks the splendid valley of the Sangro river. Its territory includes the Abetina di Rosello Regional Reserve, one of the last forest centres of fir trees in the Apennines where there are also the highest natural waterfalls in Italy.

The territory was inhabited since ancient times by the Samnites, a proud and warlike people who fought against the Romans and were defeated only after three wars around 350 BC. The Roman conquest led to the creation of colonies and the whole area was included in the Regio IV Samnium.

With the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the whole territory suffered the invasions of the barbarians and especially of the Lombards, who with their king Alboino invaded Italy in 568 AD. and remained in Abruzzo for almost 5 centuries.

To defend themselves from the continuous raids by the barbarians, the local populations left the plains and moved to live on the hills in fortified towns, real fortresses, giving life to that phenomenon known as “nesting”.

Above the village, you can see the ruins of a cylindrical tower, called the Circular Tower and the ancient enclosure of a stronghold of which few traces remain, and which could still be unexplored.

The oldest part of the village still has irregular mountain stone houses, leaning against each other, from which the rocks of the mountainside emerge above where the village was built.

During the dominion of the Lombards, the whole Abruzzo region became part of the Duchy of Spoleto, while some areas were owned by the monks of large abbeys that arose in the 9th century.

Rosello, in this period, was colonized by the Benedictine monks of the abbey of San Giovanni in Verde, whose name probably derives from the nearby Rio Verde.

The town was first mentioned in a document only in the 12th century.

In the 15th century it was a fiefdom of the Caldora family, a noble family of knights originally from France who moved to Italy following King Charles I of Anjou, with whom they were related, to take part in the conquest of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

It was then a fiefdom of the Del Gesso and Bernardo family, a noble family that seems to have originated in the Republic of Venice.

Towards the end of the 1600s, Rosello became the property of the Caracciolo family, one of the oldest and most powerful Neapolitan families who owned hundreds of fiefdoms, sometimes real states. It also had numerous branches and among these there was that of Ferrante who had obtained the principality of Villa Santa Maria in Abruzzo and who became the owner of Rosello.

The local economy has always been based on agriculture and pastoral farming but local life has been marked by several tragedies over the centuries: first a plague epidemic in 1656, then a landslide and a freeze in the eighteenth century that caused the emigration of the most of the inhabitants.

The country then suffered two terrible earthquakes, in 1703 and 1705, which destroyed it almost completely.

An important figure of the Caracciolo family was San Francesco Caracciolo, founder of the regular clerics and son of the first baron Ferrante, who was canonized by Pius VII in 1807.

In the second half of the 1600s, Giulio Caracciolo, brother of the saint, had the small hamlet of Giuliopoli built, to which he gave his name.

With the arrival of the French of Napoleon, feudalism was abolished in 1806 and the entire administration of the territories was reorganized, so Giuliopoli lost administrative autonomy and became a fraction of Rosello.

After the unification of Italy in 1861, the phenomenon of emigration in search of fortune began which drastically reduced the population of Rosello.

Rosello comes alive every September 8 for the feast of the “Madonna from house to house”, and thousands of people return to Rosello from all over the world to celebrate the Madonna for one day.

On that day, an old painting of 1500-1600, depicting the Madonna del Purgatorio is carried in procession through all the streets of the town, without neglecting any alley or house, with vicissitudes to pass the canvas in the narrowest points.

The event is special for the relay race with which all the inhabitants take turns carrying the canvas, and it ends at sunset when the image returns to its usual home greeted by fireworks and the musical band.

Cover picture from Wikipedia


Traveller's Guide to Italy