Alba Fucens is an “archaeological jewel,” says Joseph Mertens of the University of Louvain in Belgium, who has been excavating at this romantic Roman site for more than 40 years.
Founded as a Roman military base in 303 B.C., the site later became a thriving commercial center and was finally destroyed by an earthquake in the fourth century A.D.
“What makes the site particularly interesting is that the city plan has changed remarkably little since 303 B.C.,” says Mertens.
Still nestled within its ring of original walls, Alba Fucens sits in a broad valley rimmed by the lofty Abruzzi mountains, including the often snow-capped twin peaks of Monte Velino (8,159 feet). Nearby hilltops are crowned by the broken walls of a medieval castle and by an intact Roman temple converted into a Benedictine church.