Situated at 750 m above the SL and at 35 km from L’Aquila, Navelli is the town of the one thousand windows. It unfolds up on a hill like a pyramid of stone-colored houses and alleys.
Its origin dates back to pre-Roman times, when the village (vicus) Incerulae extended at the foot of today’s inhabited area. The name of the church of Saint Mary in Cerulis (XI century), built on the ruins of a temple dedicated to Hercules Giovius, is a reminder of the ancient settlement. In the Middle Ages, with the construction of the Castle, the people took refuge on the nearby hill protected by heavy walls. The village (XII century), characterized by narrow streets, arches and small manors, is surmounted by the Santucci Palace (XVII century). Saint Sebastian’s parochial church, leaning against the right side of the palace, is certainly of medieval origin. In the XVI century, the town was under the Caracciolo domination. Later, there were the Collepietro’s Gregoris, baroness Tramonti, Celano’s Tomassetti and Trasmondo. In the XVI century, thanks to a Dominican monk, father Santucci, saffron (crocus sativas) arrived in Navelli from Spain, finding here its ideal growth environment, thus bringing wealth to the town.
The most reliable theory on the origin of the name of Navelli is that connected to popular memory, reinforced by the writings of Antinori (A. Antinori, ms, Vol.XXXV). According to this theory, the town was originally called Navelli because it was formed by the union of nine villages (1. Villa del Piano with Saint Savino’s church, burial ground and inn; 2. Villa della Piaggia Grande with Saint Pelino’s church; 3. Villa della Piaggia Piccola with Saint Jerome’s church; 4. Villa di Santa Maria in Cerulis; 5. Villa di Sant’Angelo; 6. Villa di Turri with Saint Eugene’s church; 7. Villa dei Pagani with a church in ruins; 8. Villa del Colle with Our Savior’s Church; 9. Villa di Santa Lucia). Subsequently, after participating in the crusades in the Holy Land, in remembrance of such an event, the inhabitants decided to introduce a ship with a Crusade flag on the coat of arms and to change the town’s name to Navelli.
Today, Navelli is listed in the Club of “Italy’s Most Beautiful Towns”.