Happy cities are all alike; every ugly city is ugly
as an average German chick in its own way.
I’ve already traveled a lot, and I’ve seen happy cities as clear as the angel’s face of a baby, who step the tail to a domestic cat, as well as gloomy ones, like the embankments of the Obvodny Channel in St. Petersburg. Regarding L’Aquila , the capital of the Abruzzo region (famous for its majestic mountains and picturesque terrains) it’s even hard to say how happy it is. Probably, it is as happy as the hero of Evgeny Evstigneev in the movie Unbelievable Adventures of Italians in Russia: broken legs and a treasure box.
L’Aquila (translated as eagle) was seriously destroyed during the earthquake which occurred almost ten years ago. Of course, this earthquake is very far from Spitak earthquake, but the consequences are directly visible everywhere – just take a stroll around the old part:
City center is an endless paradise for stalkers: almost all houses are completely opened to all comers, even doorkeys are left – apparently people had no desire to return there, even after many years:
Supports and props are everywhere: inside buildings that are at risk of collapse the supports are usually more powerful, but often they can be seen outside the buildings – they are like suckers that keep the collapsing halves of buildings, fill arches – in a nutshell, wherever the hope to restore is still alive:
Central avenue. Previously, buses used to navigate there, the main square was actually the main bus terminal with an underground gallery. Now the main street is blocked by workers, the most beautiful buildings seem like a long-term building comparable to underground station Admiralteyskaya in St. Petersburg, and residents, as well as visitors of the city, have just to stare at the numerous images ‘This building after reconstruction in %amount_years%’:
Nevertheless, the city is visited by a huge number of tourists that even a full-fledged souvenir shop works here at their mercy. Which is however not a surprising fact – even almost all tourist attractions are shut down for a complete renovation there is still a lot of sightseeing.
➊ The post office at Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square), one of the few ‘survivors’ in the city center, but closed at this moment
➋ Small church near the fountain “99 channels”, remarkable for its solar clock on the facade
➌ Streets around the Spanish Fortress, Downtown
➍ Spanish Fort. Earlier than it was both the administration and the prison; nowadays it is destroyed more seriously than the Colosseum and is suitable maybe for shooting the next season of ‘Fort Boyard’
➎ A statue with a city symbol in the Villa Comunale park, next to the local administration (by the way, my university is located nearby, as well as local canteen where you can meet
local Mafia members local deputies and maybe ask them uncomfortable questions (but this is not exactly)
Numerous neat fountains with drinking water are placed around the town. Some with a tap (made in Italy of course), somewhere without that taxpayers may fell all the benefits of ‘free water’ as it runs away like wine from a Georgian horn 24/7. By the way, the Italians will be very surprised if you tell them that there is not such a free and useful thing in your hometown:
Even mailboxes are so wonderful!
Personally, I do really like the local churches. There is a completely different approach to architecture styles – no boring Gothic at all. The typical Italian church is indeed a house of Lord, and every sole is truly beautiful and unique. Almost all the churches in L’Aquila are built in completely different styles. For example, the Chiesa di Santa Maria del Suffragio (Church of the Holy Souls) on Cathedral Square, built in the 18th century in Baroque style, resembles some Roman churches with its curved facade. On the central pediment the skeleton is depicted and the phrase says Tears are not to help the dead ones, but prayer, petition and charity.
At the same time, Basilica di San Bernardino, the patron saint of the city (here there is an urn with the relics of a saint), generally refers to the Renaissance period and its monumental facade is a bit like classical English and French cathedrals. The most beautiful – Basilica di Santa Maria di Collemaggio, Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Collemaggio, was built in the XIII century, and therefore combines elements of Romanesque and Gothic styles. From the Romanesque – an unusual combination of white and red elements on the facade in the form of geometric patterns, from the Gothic – the design of the cathedral itself (long facade, with classical arches) and some partial elements like the front entrance. Unfortunately, it is not possible to get inside now, however, judging by the photographs taken before the earthquake, the interior decoration is simply fabulous (well, the most important religious building in the city, and since 2009 – also the cathedral):
The most famous landmark of L’Aquila is Fontana delle 99 cannelle, Fountain of 99 pipes – combination of 93 non-repeating stone faces and 6 gutters, from which water flows continuously. Unfortunately, the water from the fountain is not suitable for magic charging in front at the TV screen and further consumption ‘till complete enlightenment, but during the summer it is quite possible to arrange a traditional ablution of the feet, especially if more than half of your friends read the Koran in the original. Generally, the number 99 was not chosen simultaneously: according to legend, 99 surrounding villages participated in the construction of the city (each community erected a church, a square with a fountain, defense buildings), and at noon the church bell makes 99 to announce the beginning of the next day.
Honestly, even some tiny German towns like Lüneburg and Lübeck, perfect for sightseeing and relaxation, can not boast of such diversity. Here it is – the power of small towns in action!