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FARA SAN MARTINO
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Fara San Martino, near the Verde River in the province of Chieti, is located on the eastern side of the Maiella mountains at an elevation of 1400 feet, at the mouth of one of the biggest and most beautiful valleys in the Maiella, the Valle di Santo Spirito.  Because of its location, this town of 1700 inhabitants is known as "la porta della Majella," the gateway to the Maiella.

There were prehistoric settlements at Fara San Martino, evidenced by the discovery at Grotta Porca Arcangeli (one of many caves in the area) of artifacts from the bronze age.  The documented history of the town begins in the medieval era, in the year 829 A.D., with a record of the first Benedictine monastery in Abruzzo, San Martino in Valle, located on the outskirts of the town.  The monastery was destroyed in a landslide in 1846, and all that remains visible today is part of the campanile or bell-tower.

The traditional economy of the town was based on flour-milling and on sheep-farming, which included the production and weaving of wool.  Today the woolen industry is gone, but the flour mills survived and today have become a pasta-making industry--the Delverde and De Cecco pasta companies are located here.

The original historic center of the town, a medieval nucleus known as Terra Vecchia, is easily recognized: it is at the highest point in the town and was surrounded by by a wall and defensive watchtowers, traces of which still remain.  A 17th century gate to Terra Vecchia, the Porta del Sole, can still be found in Fara San Martino's main square, the Piazza del Municipio.  Within the Terra Vecchia section of the town are narrow winding streets and tiny squares lined with buildings which display ancient stone-work facades, doorways, arches and balconies.

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