The Park's Towns
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Municipalities in Abruzzo

Gioia dei Marsi and Lecce nei Marsi
Within the Park, these two municipalities stand out for the exceptional abundance of traces left by the Marsi civilization. Such traces are however hard to perceive for a normal observer, who is more likely to be hit by the uniformity of the settlements and of modern residential architecture, which resulted from the 1915 earthquake destruction. The remains of ancient settlements, abandoned after the earthquake, can be observed around modern residential areas, often in solitary and very evocative places.

Municipalities in Abruzzo's minor valleys
They are the municipalities of Villavallelonga, in the basin of Fossato di Rosa; Ortona dei Marsi and Bisegna in the Giovenco Valley; Scanno in the Tasso Valley. Their settlement model characterizes these villages: they were compactly built on high grounds, in strategic positions to access resources both on the mountain and on the valley floor. Thanks to their position and type of settlement, the old towns' medieval features have been preserved, with narrow and winding roads and vertically developed buildings.

Municipalities in the upper Sangro basin
Whereas Pescasseroli and Barrea are positioned in order to control the two ends of the valley, the towns of Opi, on a rocky spur, and Civitella Alfedena, on a wide terrace, are located on higher spots in the middle of the valley, in suitable positions to defend it.
Villetta Barrea is situated in a less striking position, which could however be justified by the need to control the valley of the Profulo stream, almost perfectly aligned with the Tasso-Sagittario valley.
Nonetheless, defence was maybe not the main ground for the foundation of these towns. Another plausible theory puts practical and economic reasons at their origin: areas suitable for cultivation are located on the valley floor, which is seldom wide; this valuable ground could not be took up by buildings, which could be placed instead on a higher position, still allowing inhabitants to look after their cultivations below. Indeed, the position undeniably suited the needs of these towns as, throughout the centuries, no twin towns rose up in lower positions. The only relocation case occurred to Pescasseroli, whose inhabitants abandoned the first settlement around the castle, probably in the XIV century, and moved to the lower village of Peschio (Bevilacqua 1952, 64). The local medieval fortifications do not contradict this theory, since they were created as an adaptation to specific, pre-existing contingencies.
In the valley section reaching out to the Castel di Sangro basin, outside the Park area, the town of Scontrone is located in the same type of position as Opi, on a spur above the river, whereas the modern Alfedena is a town on the valley floor along the Rio Torto stream, near its confluence with the Sangro River.   

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The smallest town in the valley
The historical capital of the Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise National Park
UnescoDiploma Europeologo europarcMinistero dell'AmbienteFederparchi
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