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A description of Aprutium, now called Abruzzo, appearing on the back of a map dated 1590.

Posted by on in Festivals, traditions and food in Abruzzo and Molise

 A few week ago I have found a picture in Pinterest, the title was: A DESCRIPTION OF APRUTIUM, NOW CALLED ABRUZZO, APPEARING ON THE BACK OF A MAP DATED 1590, from Donald Hall's 1956 book, "Eagle Argent"; I felt immediately very interested. I tried to read it, but it was too small and some of the words were completely unreadable. I printed the document to try to decipher it, but it has been hard because the file was badly scanned and many of the words were missed up and badly spelt. I have done a search to prove all the Latin names, those at least are right. Below the text I have managed to transcribe.

If someone has some suggestion or comment, I would be glad to hear them!

A description of Aprutium, now called Abruzzo, appearing on the back of a map dated 1590.

from Donald Hall's 1956 book, "Eagle Argent".

In the kingdom of Naples there is a province which they call Abruzzo, the Latin’s anciently named it, Aprutium: why it was so called, as it is uncertain, so that it took not his name of the Bruy, as someone have been of opinion. I make no question.

Some there are which think it so named Ab Aprus of Bores, for that country being forestry and full of woods, it swarmed with wild hogged: other name do derive it ab asperitate montis apennini, from the peaks of the mount Apenninus, which here in this tract is very hideous, steep and high. The greater and better sort of writers do believe that in it some part of the ancient name of Praetutium as yet remain.

For Scipione Mazzella, the Samnites, (and amongst them the Praetutium) the Peligni, Marsicans, Forestum, Vestini, Marsi, and Albenses, have formerly inhabited these places.

It is bounded at this day on the North side, by the Hadriaticke sea; on the West by the river Tronto, anciently called Truentus; On the East, by Fortore, in old time named Fronto; Upon the South it has the mount Apenine although in some places it stretches itself beyond the same.

This province Alphonsus thestout king of Aragon, divided into two parts, Abruzzo the nether, and Abruzzo the higher. Abruzzo the higher, which we have described apart by itself, is severed from the nether by the river Pescara, which old writers called Aternu. Scipione Mazzella in his curious description of the kingdom of Naples, affirmed that this country is by situation and nature of the place, very strong and inhabited by a stout and sturdy nation; and the soil is very fertile of wines and Cattell.

The chief cities of it are: Aquila, Interamnia or Teramo, Amatrice, Atri, Penne: and long since here have stood Amiterno and Fisconio, both now defaced, yet of their ruins and after is raised Aquila some few miles off, built upon the top of an hill, as Velateran and others have written. This city arise  in a place most fertile of all things necessary: so that the Cabbadges here (caulis capucci, they call them) do often weigh, as Mazella reported, sometime thirty, sometime forty pound; In Amiternos fertile fields we went and spend our days. The fields before the cities, do yield such great plenty of Saffron, that thereof yearly they make 40000 ducats. Here is once a year kept a great Faire. It had 110 Churches. Near this city, as Blondus said, is a stone under which runs a stream of oil, which they call oile of peter, or Petroleum: and is desired and fought for many, but of the Aleman’s and Hungarian it is more esteemed than the Italians.

The fame authors recorded that the country people shewed him a Pear-tree  growing upon an hill not far from the head of the river Pescara, or Aterno, shooting up in such a sort that the water falling upon it, divided itself into three parts which became three great rivers, Velino, Tronto, and Pescara running in three divers ways. Aterno in former times a goodly city, famous in histories and the native country of Salus the noble Historian can hardly be discerned where it stood: yet, Blondus said that they do yet threw some pieces of the Theatre, Temples, and Turrets. Mazella affirmed that there yet do remain the Temple of Saturne, the tomb of Thrugìfus daughter and a triumph of the Samnities engraved in marble, a memorial of the happy victory obtained against of the Roman army. Teramo long since called Intersonia, for that it is situate between three rivers, Fiumicello, Trentino and Vitiole, is the head city of this province whose Bishop is graced with many titles and dignities and the lord of the soil is called by the name of the Duke of Teramo, Adria the ancient colony of the Romans, is now called Atri. Some do think that the Emperor Hadrian was born here and of it took his name, as also the Hadriaticke sea, now called Mare Supersum, the higher sea, the Gulf or bay of Ve… F…. sometime had been a famous bishoptick whose bishops are often mentioned in the Councils and Synods held 800 years since, at Rome or other places in Italy. At this day, only some small mention is to be seen of it for it was destroyed by the Lombardes and the Bishops sea was by Pope Alexander the fourth, from thence translated into Aquila. The arms of this country as Mazella wrote is an Eagle argent crowned, standing upon three mounts or in afield Azore. He has desired to understand more of this country let him to the forenamed authors, who I doubt not will satisfy him to the full.  

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Tagged in: Abruzzo region

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