Pratola Peligna, the largest town in the Peligna Valley, has a population ofapproximately 8000. It is located in Abruzzo, in the province of L'Aquila, and is within driving distance of Rome and the Adriatic Riviera. [See direction page for more information on how to get there]
Since its beginnings Partola Peligna has been known as an agricultural town but even more so it is renowned in the area as a producer of excellent wines, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Trebbiano d'Abruzzo, and the light salmon pink Cerasuolo. These wines have been appreciated since Roman times and praised both by the Roman poet Ovid, and the Roman historian Pliny who in his Naturalis Historia, compared the quality of the wines produced in this area to those of Tuscany.
The town offers every convenience for a comfortable stay and all within walking distance of Casa San Rocco. Along the main streets and in its piazzas there are green grocers, butchers, bakers, delishops, pasta shops, pharmacies, and of course distributors of theregion's famous wines. A full-service supermarket is located in town while larger ones are located on the outskirts. If needed, a walk-in medical clinic is located on Via Valle Madonna, and a full-service hospital is located in Sulmona, fifteen minutes away by car.
Market day is every Friday morning and should not be missed. The market stretches the length of the main street, spilling into Piazza Garibaldi, to the cathedral and beyond. It is a colourful, animated, and entertaining experience.
If market day in Pratola Peligna is missed, or if you just enjoy the open-air market experience, take in the largest mercato in the valley every Wednesday and Saturday in Sulmona. Here farmers come down from their villages and farms in the nearby mountains with their produce, vegetables, cheeses, herbs, and fruits.
First mentioned historically in 997 A.D., Pratola Peligna is steeped in history. In 1294, the town was known as Cestrum Pratulae, and its citizens were serfs of the Celestine Monastic Order established by Pope Celestino V, the only Pope in history to abdicate
The town of Pratola Peligna is also famous for its devotion to La Madonna della Libera. The miraculous image of the Madonna has been venerated in the town's cathedral since the 15th century. The feast day is on the first Sunday in May and coincides with the ancient Roman spring festival of Ceres, the goddess of agriculture.
Thomas Ashby, an archeologist and educator traveled through Abruzzo in the early part of the 20th century. In his Italian Scenes and Festivals published in 1929, he writes about how Pratola Peligna was " worth visiting on the first Sunday in May for the festival of the Madonna della Libera...the whole place was thronged with people and full of movement and colour .The people had come from the various parts of the Abruzzi, and there was a great variety of women's costumes to be seen ." Ashby further describes the connection between La Festa and the celebration of rituals practiced by Romans and Greeks during their spring rites.
years later, Ignazio Silone a prominent 20th century Italian novelist made
reference to the feast day of La Madonna della Libera in his internationally
acclaimed novel Fontamara, a powerful novel dealing with the plight of the
peasants under Fascism. In his novel some of the characters set out on foot
on a pilgrimage to the sanctuary of the Madonna seeking for miraculous intercession.
Today, La Festa goes on for weeks attracting people from all over Abruzzo and culminating with spectacular fireworks.