Torre Baglioni is a twelfth-century architectural-archaeological monumental complex, located in the oldest part of Ortona, namely Terravecchia, a stone’s throw from the Castello Aragonese fortress (fifteenth century AD) and within the perimeter of Mura Caldoriane walls of the thirteenth century AD.Torre Baglioni dominated the Punta Pizzuta headland, and the ancient port of the Frentano tribe, on the stretch of coast used by Italic peoples as a harbour.
A venerable residence dating back to the twelfth century, this elegant and appealing venue is a few steps from the cathedral of San Tommaso and the Castello Aragonese (a fortress dating back to the 1300s). It vaunts ample courtyards, terraces and gardens, in a fusion of classic and modern, where guests will enjoy relaxing in its comfortable, restful interiors, for some unforgettable moments deep in the history of Ortona.
Torre della Loggia is at the northern tip of the so-called Trabocchi coast, a stone’s throw from Mount Majella and Mount Gran Sasso, offering marvellous views of the coves and beaches that make up the Ortona shoreline, stretching for about 14 kilometres. A whole range of day trips enables visitors to explore some very special itineraries, like the food and wine trail that visits the area’s leading wineries, starting with the nearby regional wine cellar. For those seeking a true challenge, Ortona is the starting point for the Cammino di San Tommaso trail to Rome, 330 kilometres undertaken on foot to experience the natural, historical and cultural wonders of Abruzzo.
Torre Baglioni and the Palazzo de Bernardis annex were purchased in 2005 by the Della Loggia – Di Martino family. Consultant architect Giovanni Granata, who later became site designer and manager, was tasked with the first stage of research and planning, in the aim to restore the venue to its former glory.
A lengthy and challenging process began for the “recovery, restoration and upgrading of the complex of great historical and artistic value”,overseen – pursuant to cultural heritage regulations – by the Monument and Landscape Heritage Department’s and the Archaeological Heritage Department (respectively in the persons of Sergio Pietraforte and Andrea Staffa). The ensuing project may well be defined one of the most important post-World War Two recoveries of cultural heritage undertaken by private individuals, in and around Ortona.
Work began in December 2012, skilfully executed by Edil Group Costruzioni srl of Montorio al Vomano. It included all four storeys of the tower, an east wing of ten interiors, on three floors, a large central courtyard, a portico connecting to the historic entrance on Vico Bonelli (the oldest street in Ortona), and two more entrances, with their own ample forecourts, on Via Gabriele D'Annunzio. Experts deem the current configuration to be the result of a refurbishment initiated by Alfonso of Aragon in the mid-fifteenth century, with the reinforcement of walls, gates and towers, and construction of the Aragonese Castle.
Analysis of existing walls revealed three distinct construction techniques, obviously used in three distinct periods, in a time-span that went from the sixth-seventh to the thirteenth century.
The first stage of construction can be seen in an inner wall on the first floor of the annex, and was dated to the sixth century, and by an escarpment, seen in what is now Viale D'Annunzio, referable to the boundary wall of Ortona’s Byzantine era. Indeed, various historical sources report that the escarpment, now interred by Viale D’Annunzio, housed the gate to the town’s ancient port, known as “Lo Scalo”.
The ashlar wall connected to the defensive structure, restored at this time, was part of the second phase of construction, which can be dated ninth-eleventh centuries. This is proved by the presence of the remains of a large enclosure surrounding the flat area. Indeed, this enclosure would seem to have been in existence as early as the Dark Ages, when the area was closed off by fortified walls of some kind, following the privatization of the urban space (a kind of “urban feudalization” that produced defensive works with sections and buildings that were surrounded by walls). It is also interesting to note the presence of a pit or cistern, located in a corner of the courtyard, possibly used for storing grain and other items coming from the port.
The third phase, dated to the thirteenth century, comprised the fortification of the complex by the De Bernardis family, including the construction of the Tower. The wall of the fortified area was moved and the enclosure was reduced in area, and the complex may thus have become a fortified building or a castle with tower.