its lake and the village of photographers
we had read that Scannoin the unknown region of Abruzzo, was one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. It has his stamp and everything. More than one in fact. But when we arrived, we understood that, beyond the lists and the marketing, Scanno was special. A town of just over 2,000 inhabitants on top of a 1,000 meter high rock, next to one of the oldest national parks in Italy and a deep canyon into which a heart shaped lake. Does it sound idyllic or not?
A medieval village of shepherds that had its moment of splendor in the Baroque era thanks to its wool industry. Wool that made him famous throughout the Kingdom of Naples, to which he belonged. At that time the typical costume for its women was born, surely one of the reasons that brought the very same here. Henri Cartier-Bresson and that turned to Scanno in it “town of photographers” in the 20th century.
It's true that Scanno's baroque palaces and medieval buildings have seen better days, there are a few cracks and a few faded and chipped facades in need of touch-ups… but the town still rocks. In fact, that slightly decadent air even gives it a touch – perhaps Cartier-Bresson thought the same thing. It looks like a real nativity scene! Join us, we will tell you all there is to see in Scannoone of our places What to visit in Abruzzo.
- What to see in Scanno, one of the most beautiful towns in Italy
- Scanno Lake: the heart-shaped lake
- The Sagittarius gorges and the surroundings of Scanno
- Where to eat in Scanno
- Map of places to see in Scanno
What to see in Scanno, one of the most beautiful towns in Italy
Basically what you have to see in Scanno is the old townwith its narrow streets, its slopes, its views, its fountains, its wrought iron balconies, the baroque portals of its palaces and churches...
As you walk, notice two very characteristic elements of Scanno: the arches and external stairs of their houses. The first are old access doors later absorbed by the town or a way of connecting different buildings. And the second ones even have their own name here: cimmose. These stairs connected the street with the first floor of the houses, where the rooms were, while on the ground floor there were stables and cellars. The fact is that now they are his hallmark and are often decorated with plants and flowers. They look like they were made for Instagram!
Nothing surprises us that the CNN would choose Scanno as one of the most beautiful towns in Italy and called it "rural paradise."
Did you know…?
The Romans called this place scamnum, seat or bench, due to its position on top of a rock. Rock on which the Apennines rest in this area.
The Piazza di Santa Maria della Valle and his church
After leaving the car in the Viale del Lagothe main access point to the town, our visit to the historic center of Scanno began with the Santa Maria del Valle square. Right next to it is the tourist office, where we got a map of the town and the surrounding area, so there was no better starting point.
In the square stands the church of santa maria del valle, or La Asunción, with its 35-meter-high Romanesque bell tower that stands out from many corners of the town. Inside we find remains of medieval frescoes, baroque wooden furniture and the chapel with the relics of San Constanzo.
The Strada Abrami and the Fontana Sarracco
The church and the square are beautiful. But the really good things start when you stroll through the old town. We start the route through the Strada Abrami, the main street that divides it in two. Shortly after starting, we found the Fontana Sarracco, a fountain with masks that was a medieval drinking trough. It's one of the most iconic corners of Scanno and its baroque masks even have names: they are popularly known as the king, the queen, the friar zoccolante and the cappuccino.
The Piazza San Rocco and the Palazzo Mosca
touring the Strada Abrami until the end you reach the San Roque squareor Plaza Vieja, the heart of the Scanno Old Town. Here stands the Palazzo Moscathe most elegant in town, with its baroque façade and its decoration of cherubs and dancing seraphim under the cornice.
Arriving at the square we also find the church which gives it its name, the of San Roque, next to a palace with a large fresco of San Cristóbal. Very close there are two others churches: the one of Saint Mary of Constantinople –with a fresco of the Madonna and Child enthroned from the 14th century that is one of Scanno's jewels– and Saint Eustatius –with its baroque stuccos and its processional steps–. Let it not be said that there is a lack of places of worship in Scanno!
Jump With Me Corner
Next to the church of San Eustaquio is the Arch of Saint Eustatius, one of the ancient gates that gave access to the medieval center of Scanno. Today, integrated into a private house.
The Cartier-Bresson staircase
In front of the church of the Virgen del Carmen is the Henri Cartier-Bresson staircase. Yes, this staircase is officially named after the one nicknamed “eye of the 20th century”. Because? Well, because he photographed her, of course. Cartier-Bresson arrived in Scanno in the winter of 1952 to carry out a report that he would call "Christmas in Scanno" and he would publish in Harper's Bazaar magazine in December 1953. The most famous of the photos in that report precisely portrays this corner of Scanno. Women carrying bread on their heads, girls coming out of the church, a cat, a group of men in the background… and many railings. He immortalized a moment of daily life in the interior of Abruzzo in the 50s of the last century.
Did you know…?
Two of Scanno de Cartier-Bresson's photos are part of the MoMA collectionas well as two by Mario Giacomelli, one of the greatest Italian photographers of the 20th century.
The route of the "town of photographers"
The Cartier-Bresson staircase, which has not changed one iota since the middle of the last century, is one of the stops on the route of theBorgo dei fotografi”, village of photographers. That Scanno was immortalized by what is considered the father of photojournalism did not go unnoticed. After his visit to the Abruzzo town, many other Italian and international photographers arrived. You can see the photos of him in the corners that they portrayed in different parts of the Scanno Old Town. The route starts next to the Saint Anthony of Padua churchin the Via dei Fotografi -very appropriate-. You can also take a look at the baroque interiors of the church.
Did you know…?
Italian photographer Ferdinando Scianna, a friend of Cartier-Bresson, said the French photographer's reporting turned Scanno in “the Lourdes of photographers”. A true pilgrimage destination!
Silla and Ciorla streets
We mention two other streets you should go through: the via Chair and the via Ciorla. Other of the most important palaces and churches of the town rise in them. As the Rienzo Palace, with its large carved wooden gate; he Angelis Palacewith its baroque decoration, and the church of Santa Maria delle Graziewith the stuccos that decorate its interior.
A couple more corners. at the end of the via Ciorla rises the cross gate, one of the four gates that gave access to the old town in the 15th century, the only one that has been preserved. And, near the intersection of Silla and Ciorla streets, there is another of those arches so characteristic of Scanno: the Arco della Nocella.
If you're lucky, women in traditional Scanno costume
The photographers who came to Scanno, Cartier-Bresson included, did so for its landscapes, yes, but also for its traditions, especially the traditional dress of its women, with wide skirts, embroidery and typical hats. Although today it is not easy to see the women with their typical dress, they do take it on holidays, some even every Sunday. Let's see if you're lucky, we weren't...
Scanno Lake: the heart-shaped lake
Very close to the town you will find the Lake Scanno, the largest natural lake in Abruzzo. It is one of the best-known natural corners of the region also because it has…heart shape! Of course, to appreciate that shape you have to go to the panoramic point, near the hermitage of Sant'Egidio. It is reached by heartfeltthe path of the heart You can start it from the town or from the lake, we put it on the map. Be careful, from below it is also beautiful and you can stop at the Church of the Virgin of the Lakedug into the rock.
The Sagittarius gorges and the surroundings of Scanno
The road that leads to Scanno is built on the Sagittarius River Gorges. A canyon carved by water into the limestone that is spectacular even from the car. Although there are also a few trails. If you stay in the car, get off at least near the lake santo domingo and in the towns of villalago and Front of the Abruzzitwo more of the most beautiful towns in Italy.
We have already said that close to Scanno is the second oldest national park in Italy: the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Parkwhere with great luck you can meet a wolf or a bear...
Where to eat in Scanno
if you feel like it typical Abruzzo fooda good place to eat in scanno is he La Foce restaurant. There you can try the arrosticini, the typical Moorish lamb meat skewers. And some of the typical pastas of the region, such as spaghetti alla chitarrawith different sauces –including that of river crabs–, or the sagnette, with beans. It was all to lick your fingers!
Map of places to see in Scanno
Here you have our map of places to see in Scanno. We also tell you where we parked, where the photographers' village route and the path of the heart begin, and where the tourist office and the restaurant where we ate are.
The town of photographers awaits you so that you can also take some pictures...
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