Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise Headquarters: viale Santa Lucia - 67032 Pescasseroli (AQ)
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The National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise has been occupied by man since the Palaeolithic period. During the summer, numerous hunters from the more temperate zones of inland Abruzzo, such as the Lake of Fucino, would move around the mountain areas, impassable in winter, to hunt ibex, chamois and marmots and to search for silica, using the caves and natural shelters.

The National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise has been occupied by man since the Palaeolithic period. During the summer, numerous hunters from the more temperate zones of inland Abruzzo, such as the Lake of Fucino, would move around the mountain areas, impassable in winter, to hunt ibex, chamois and marmots and to search for silica, using the caves and natural shelters.

A process of systematic occupation of the territory began in the Iron Age, which led to the creation of fortified settlements, situated high up to control the compulsory transit points along the River Sangro. One of these villages certainly occupied the area where Opi now stands, whereas a second was situated on the high pastures surrounding Lake Barrea. Already from the late Iron Age, small settlements appeared along the routes of communication next to the fortified settlements on the highlands. The inhabitants lived on sheep farming and they cultivated crops for local consumption.

During the 5th century, various Samnite populations gathered here, the Marsi, Volsci and Pentri, and they established tiny ethic states run by noble oligarchies. Discoveries of pottery from this period within the Park borders are evidence that even during the Samnite period, the population continued to occupy the highlands which provided excellent observation points over the Sangro basin. For the Pentri Samnites, the Upper Sangro Valley was a frontier land and place to trade with the Marsi from around the Fucino area and with the Volsci settled in southern Lazio.

The structure of the area, closed between high mountains and marked by deep gorges discouraged an attack by the Romans for many years. However, even these territories succumbed to the government of Rome after the final defeat of the Samnites in 290. The area within the boundaries of the National Park of Abruzzo was incorporated into the Roman prefecture of Atina.

During the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC, the settlement system was transformed. Although the populations of the Upper Val di Sangro continued living on the highlands to control the territory, they occupied the large area of foothills and created large settlements located along the main roads at meeting and trading points.

Only in the 1st century BC, when the Romans also granted citizenship to the Pentri Samnites, did the long period of Romanisation, begun over two centuries before, come to an end and the administrative system changed profoundly with the creation of the municipality of Aufidena (Castel di Sangro).

In Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, the major towns (Val Fondillo, Pian del Molino) in the valley continued to be occupied and side by side with them monastic settlements began to rise, especially at the hands of the Cistercian hermits. Furthermore, the continual political uncertainties led to the re-occupation of the highlands that had been previously fortified in pre-Roman times: the “Castles” that had dominated the landscape until recent times, gave rise to the typical, modern towns perched above the Val di Sangro (Opi, Civitella Alfedena, Barrea). According to some scholars, the position of these villages had practical, rather than defensive purposes: it was worth building the villages on rocky spurs and leaving the valley bottom free for crops. Many of these settlements have preserved the typical features of their mediaeval structure and are well worth a visit (Opi and Scanno are in the list of the most beautiful Villages in Italy).

The majority of the villages on the Molise side stood on hills and rocky spurs or in easily defendable places. Over the last two centuries, this custom was replaced by the tendency to build scattered buildings, in single homes or small rural nuclei, due to the increased security which meant that encastellation was no longer necessary and due to the splitting up of the large feudal estates. These new types of settlements featured villages with extensive agricultural surfaces, which gradually recorded a progressive reduction in the numbers of inhabitants in the original nuclei.

Park Borders

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Tipo post
Bene culturale
Parco nazionale