Termoli's old quarter

Termoli's walls jut out into the perfect marine blue of the Adriatic.

Wooden huts on precarious stilts suspend over the water whilst teenagers curl upon lovers' seats in the slither of land between wall and sea. Two joyfully jousting, large, bright yellow fish transform themselves into the flippers of a diver who weaves his way amongst the rocks.

The lighthouse is undergoing repairs and stands coated in scaffolding, still guarding the ships from the rocks and shallow waters. The large, modern harbour pays homage to the history of the town with a flotilla of blue fishing-boats swaying atop the water.

Many of the old town's houses have been painted varying pastel shades, reminding me of both Bergen and some of Devon's fishing villages. It's winding, narrow ways also reminiscent of a Devon home I left behind years ago.

The duomo faces into a relatively large piazza. Not for this duomo the gilttering, ostentatiousness of others, but a high-domed, unadorned interior. Lying above the ossiary of his bones is the silver bearded and footed replica of Saint Timothy, disciple of St. Paul the Apostle, so the legend tells me.

And so I wander the small, but interestingly formed, old Termoli, peering into its shop windows and standing a clear head and shoulders above some of its doorways, coming time and again upon a newly married couple as they pose in doorways and kiss, whilst strolling the lanes.

As the sun starts its final descent behind the hotels and apartment blocks of the modern Termoli that has pushed itself to the edge of the old quarter, I sip a Prosecco at the Cocktail Café and watch the sea turn to a silvery grey.

The History

Termoli's history dates back to the sixth century CE when it was the capital of the 34 Lombard counties which formed the Duchy of Benevento. Until the tenth century, Termoli oscillated between the Duchies of Benvento, Spoleto and the Abbey of Montecassino.

In a central square is the cathedral (12th-13th century), dedicated to St. Mary of the Purification: it houses the relics of the two city's patron saints, Bassus of Lucera (San Basso) and Timothy. The upper part of the façade was destroyed by an earthquake in 1456, and also suffered from the Turkish sack of the city in 1566. The Baroque additions were eliminated in the restoration of 1930-1969, returning the edifice to its original appearance.

In the thirteenth century the town was a booming commerical port and an embarcation point for the Crusades. Frederick II (1240) renovated the Castle, which had been built by Robert I in the eleventh century, after an attack by the Venetian fleet.

A slump followed until the late eighteenth century when the Kings of Naples allowed the building of new edifices along the coast and inland. Depopulation occurred after the Second World War, but Termoli has recovered to become a popular resort for Italian holiday-makers, with a palm-tree lined promenade and popular restuarants.




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