Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Campli and the holy staircase

We've been visiting towns in the area, both big and small. Each day we make new discoveries and see fascinating things. The small town of Campli, just 20 kilometers away has a long and fascinating history. it was home to some famous Italian painters during the the Renaissance and the ceiling of the church is gorgeous. Apparently this church was also the first ever hospital in Abruzzo when it was part of a monastery in the 15th century. There is a medieval palace there and a tower, but the most famous part of Campli is the holy staircase.

In 1772, Pope Clement XIV offered absolution from sins to anyone who would mount the 29 steps on their knees. The staircase was closed in recent decades but was restored and reopened in1995. As you can see, it's decorated with paintings on each side and on the ceiling. Cushions are provided for the penitents, which is helpful. Harry thought he might have to use his knee pads from construction work, but actually he didn't bring them along. In fact we didn't do the on- the-knees climb, but some visitors from Quebec were making the ascent.

In spite of its illustrious history, we found Campli to be a sleepy, almost depressed little town. There were only a few old guys hanging around outside a shabby bar the afternoon we visited. The museums were all closed and we saw many boarded up houses near the church. Like so many small villages in Italy, Campli offers nothing for the young people so they move away to bigger centers.

Just outside the cathedral I noticed these posters announcing the passing of some Campli residents. Actually, now that I have noticed these, I see them posted in every town. They tell about the person who has died and give information about the funeral. At this rate, Campli will be an empty village in a matter of years.

We have also been to Ascolti Piceno in the Mache region and just today to Sulmona, home of sugared almonds and a Roman aqueduct, as well as the beautiful Medieval town of Scanno, which hugs a canyon with its grey stone buildings perched one on top of another. I will post about those soon.


  1. Interesting steps I might have a go if I was there. God know I need all the help I can get !

    cheers, parsnip


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