Because the nearest town can make or break your holiday, having Casoli close-by was a key factor in choosing the site for our Abruzzo holiday villas. Near – but not intrusive; small enough to stroll around comfortably; large enough to provide pretty well all the amenities you’ll need during your Villasfor2 stay.
- The old town at the very top of the hill, clustered round the 13th century Ducal Palace and the church of Santa Maria Maggiore
- Leading down from the old town are the two main streets – the steep Corso Vittorio Emanuele, which then levels out into Corso Umberto I where the weekly Friday morning market is held.
- And lower down the hill towards the Aventino Valley and on adjacent smaller hills and ridges, there’s the newer and largely-residential Casoli.
There’s been a town in the area since pre-Roman times. The Romans themselves called it Cluviae; by the Middle Ages, it was known as Casule. Modern Casoli has around 6,000 inhabitants and is one of the 104 comune in Abruzzo’s Chieti province.
And there are three more rather practical things you should know too:
- Thursday is early closing day. (And many shops also close from lunchtime on Saturday)
- Normal weekday shop hours – supermarkets too – are approximately 1000-1300 and 1600-2000. (Give or take half-an-hour either way…)
- Parking is easy – and even during the Friday morning market you can generally find a space somewhere !
If you need a little retail therapy, that Friday morning market offers you the chance to shop like an Italian. (And eat like an Italian too, with a dazzling array of fresh fruit and veg – and sample the delights of a couple of porchetta vans.)
Otherwise, Umberto I and Vittorio Emanuele offer some quite classy clothes and shoe shops and an unusually large number of jewellers. Plus the usual day-to-day trappings of town life in the way of a small supermarket; at least four bars; a couple of gelateria and pasticceria; a hairdresser; two banks (and two ATM’s); hardware store; a gift shop; an antique shop and assorted grocers, farmacia, butchers, rosticceria and flower shops. And a toyshop. Even a hospital in the case of emergencies.
You might also notice a couple of wall-plaques on Corso Umberto I. One to local victims of Nazi opression during World War II. The other commemorates the founding of the legendary ‘Brigata Maiella’, Italy’s most famous partizan unit of the War.
Incidentally, when you’re having a drink here, don’t be alarmed if a small plate of unordered nibbles suddenly appears in front of you. It’s on the house. A pleasing little practise that’s reasonably common too in other bars.
Thirst quenched, time for the climb up to the Ducal Palace and a wander round the old town. Fabulous views – and as the paths corkscrew up the hill, it’s impossible to get lost.
Alongside the Ducal Palace, the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore is the starting point of an extraordinarily atmospheric torchlit procession each Easter during which holy relics are solemnly paraded through the town. If you’re a Villasfor2 guest over Easter, this is an absolute must-see.
And if you’re in our Abruzzo holiday villas in early October, you’ll hardly be able to miss the 3-day party honoring Casoli’s patron saint Santa Reparata (who is shared, incidentally, with Nice and Florence). The street funfairs, music and parties; far too much to eat and drink; general jollity and truly thunderous nightly fireworks could be the highlight of your Abruzzo vacation.
Like the unmissable mural just before you get to the town centre, Casoli’s a place that wears its heart on its sleeve. No airs and graces. No famous museums, statues or paintings. Just a small, thriving, safe and friendly community set in one of Italy’s most beautiful areas.