L'Aquila is one the most beautiful cities in Italy, and has been for hundreds of years, despite its many trials. The most recent devastating event was an earthquake in 2009 that partially destroyed the city; in a twist, this same devastation brought L'Aquila to the international spotlight more than its historical value ever did. The rebuilding of the art district is very difficult, due to the specifics and artistic characteristic of each building, and as a result it is likely to be quite a long time before the city comes back to its original splendor. At the moment, access to the historical areas is limited and for the most part entirely restricted. However, L'Aquila has suffered other earthquakes in the past and it was even completely destroyed during a war in 1257, yet somehow, it has always managed to return more beautiful than before.
Although the city has only a little over 72,000 inhabitants, its boundaries and controlled territory are actually among the largest in Italy. And of course, the location is simply splendid. The area includes mountains nearby, in particular the massif of Gran Sasso that is a wonderful natural site and also the site of one of the most important scientific centers in the country, and likely in the world - the LNGS Gran Sasso, or the Laboratori Nazionale del Gran Sasso. This lab continuously collaborates with the CERN center of Geneva.
The earthquake in 2009 forced almost the entire population to move out of the city. Most of the churches and historical buildings fell like sand castles, and many countries have sponsored the reconstruction; however, it's a long process and all agree that the city must be recovered and rebuilt, as it is a true world treasure.
Among the amazing art that the city had, and that is still under the ruins, we would like to mention specifically the spectacular landmark: the "Fountain of the 99 cannelle"; built in 1272 it features 99 faucets lined up next to each other pouring water. Needless to say, L'Aquila has a tremendous number of museums, and the National Museum of Abruzzi is a must. Among the great art pieces, probably the most striking item is the full skeleton of a mammoth; this is a huge draw, as there are not many around the world.
As is the case for the rest of country, the food in L'Aquila is phenomenal, simple and very much inspired by the mountains. It is some of the most tasty and delicious you will ever eat.
All who know L'Aquila hope that this wonderful city will soon be restored so new generations can fully appreciate it, as many have before. Right after the earthquake the Italian government organized a G-20 meeting there, to show to the world the beauties of that area. All the top world leaders attended the summit, including U.S. President Obama; a first step toward the future.