On the southern slopes of the Gran Sasso chain, on a limestone which closes off the Tirino Valley at north-west side, lies the ancient fortified town of Castelvecchio Calvisio. The oldest historical events of the village are somewhat confusing but is attested as early as 779 AD the presence of a "castle above San Lorenzo " where now stands the current Castelvecchio Calvisio .
In close proximity was found an inscription from the Roman era which testifies the presence in the territory of "gens Calvisia " other remnants document the existence of open urban agglomerations, maybe four Villas ( S. Lorenzo, S. Martino, S. Giovanni and S. Cipriano) which originated, in the Middle Ages, the fortified town.
In 1384 , together with S. Stefano di Sassanio, Calascio and Rocca Calascio and the nearby Carapelle Calvisio, was part of the so-called " Barony of Carapelle " of the Counts of Celano. The town's history followed that of the Barony territory passed from hand to hand to various feudal lords. After a century of silence, the relative tranquility of the area was shaken by a severe episode: Castelvecchio was sacked and destroyed by Fortebraccio da Montone engaged in the war against L'Aquila. In the second half of the ‘500 the Barony was bought by the Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, that brought peace and prosperity to the area.
Castelvecchio Calvisio counted 700 inhabitants devoted to the cultivation of saffron, grass peas and lentils, a legume still cultivated with success. The small town is one of the most charming settlements in the Abruzzo mountains for its urban structure that seems to follow the plan of a Roman "castrum". The morphology of the hill where it is located determined the elliptical shape of the fortified village. The town-walls, still identifiable, consists of house-walls and guard towers. The elliptical structure is divided according to the major axis by the main street from which depart, perpendicularly, seven roads on one side and eight on the other. Very original and evocative are names of the streets as a Via delle Sentinelle ( of Sentinels), Via Borghi degli Archi Romani (villages of Roman arches), Via dei Liberali (of Liberals), Via dei Trapassati (of departed), Via Caronte (Charon) ... The main street is characterized by a continuous sequence of arches that probably formed a tunnel that facilitated the path in the winter months. Another original architectural feature are the steep exterior stairs consisting of steps that protrude from the walls as shelves , called barbicans. This solution has allowed to make the best use of the small space of the narrow alleys and dividing the houses into two levels where the upper ones were used for habitation and those on the ground floor were used as barnl or handcraft space.
Very interesting is the church of San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist), with a bell gable with five openings, which still shows some architectural details that reveals its original function as a fortified palace. Not far from the village towards the nearby Carapelle Calvisio, the church of San Cipriano whit his original bell that was for a long time the parish church of the village, then abandoned due to excessive distance. It seems that it had been built on a pre-existing temple dedicated to Venus. The earthquake of April 6, 2009 has greatly damaged this valuable and unique example of architecture of Abruzzo. Walking in the silence for its narrow streets covered by shoring it swells the heart of sadness and helplessness and you wonder if you will have the foresight and willingness to give new strength and beauty to these stones placed one upon the other with knowledge and passion by our predecessors.
Come arrivare a Castelvecchio Calvisio