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L'Aquila crowned Italy's Capital of Culture 2026

L'Aquila to be Capitale Italiana della Cultura 2026.

L'Aquila, the city devastated by the massive earthquake that struck Italy's central Abruzzo region almost 15 years ago, has been announced as Italian Capital of Culture 2026.

Shortlisted towns and cities vying for the coveted title presented their bids to a jury last week, with the winning candidate for the prestigious recognition unveiled by Italian culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano on Thursday.

L'Aquila, the capital of the Abruzzo region, saw off competition from the other nine finalists: Agnone (Isernia), Alba (Cuneo), Gaeta, Latina, Lucera (Foggia), Maratea (Potenza), Rimini, Treviso, and the Unione dei Comuni Valdichiana Senese (Siena).

Marco Marsilio, the recently re-elected governor of Abruzzo, wrote on social media: "Great pride for the whole of Abruzzo, we strongly believed in it", conveying his "heartfelt congratulations" to L'Aquila mayor Pierluigi Biondi.

Both Marsilio and Biondi are members of premier Giorgia Meloni's right-wing Fratelli d'Italia party.

Earlier this year Pesaro, a city on the Adriatic coast, took up its status as Capitale Italiana della Cultura 2024, succeeding the northern Italian cities of Bergamo and Brescia.

Italy's previous culture capitals include Cagliari, Lecce, Perugia, Ravenna and Siena in 2015, Mantua in 2016, Pistoia in 2017 and Palermo in 2018.

The Italian title skipped a year in 2019 when Matera, in the southern Basilicata region, became the European Capital of Culture.

In 2020 it was the turn of Parma to receive Italy's culture capital status, with the north Italian city retaining the title for a second year to make up for the negative effects of the covid lockdowns.

Procida, the small island in the Gulf of Naples, was the title holder in 2022, while next year's Capitale di Cultura will be Agrigento.

Photo credit: Buffy1982 /

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