Castles (Li Castìllë in Abruzzo) is one of the points of access to the national park of the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga in its south-eastern part. Climbing for Rigopiano it is possible to reach the southern part of Campo Imperatore passing for Vado di Sole (1650 m a.s.l.) in about 20 km and with an altitude of about 1200 m in a naturalistic itinerary very suggestive. Impressive is also the view on the north-eastern wall of Monte Jacket (with over 2000 m of protrusion) and the underlying thick wooded area. Transits here a stretch of the great Horse Riding Trail of Gran Sasso.
Already known before the Roman expansion in the territories of the "Italic peoples", Castles has its history written in the toponyms of the area and in the popular tradition that wants inhabited by the Siculians, from which the Sicilian Valley, and by other peoples. In the roman period the country with all the territory became part of the ager atrianus, in substance to the dependencies of the atria, that in Abruzzo was the city more loyal to Rome. The fall of the Roman Empire of the West, like all Italian populations are most exposed to the looting and the invasions, also the populations of the Abruzzo region took refuge in the mountains.
The inhabitants of the valley, in particular is divided into groups, occupied the poggi more high and steep mountains of the Apennines surrounded by woods. From here the old toponym "Li Castles" whose memory is today testified by the municipal coat of arms formed by three towers on a castle open. With the monastery of San Salvatore begins the phase of the benedictine history castellana and, in general, of the whole valley of the Vomano.With their presence the monks rianimarono the sparse populations through prayer, the care of the woods, the value of the culture, the use of clay for the construction of household utensils.. By the time it came out a different company from that agro-pastoral dimanica more in social and economic terms, with a complex organization masculine and feminine.
During the Middle Ages the village is politically registered within the county of the family of de Pagliara. In 1340 Castles, the county of Pagliara and the Sicilian Valley passed to the dependency of the Roman Orsini family due to the marriage contract between the daughter of count Gualtieri and Baron Napoleone Orsini. A feudal domain politically opposed to the reflections, that wars between France and Spain for supremacy in Italy, had in Abruzzo and more in general in the Kingdom of Naples. In a few years the valley passed before, in the hands of the Count Francesco Riccardi of Ortona, closer to king Ladislao, then in those of Antonello Petrucci of auditors of Aversa to return, then, with the title of Baronia, in 1500, again under the Orsini in the person Camillo Pardo. In 1524 , after the definitive French defeat, the Orsinis lost the barony which went to the duke of Sessa. In 1526, Charles V, oramia recognized the undisputed Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, after it has been elevated to the rank of Marquisate, granted as a reward for services rendered in the battle of Pavia, the general Ferrante Alarçon y Mendoza and his heirs. Castles thus became part of the marquisate of the Sicilian Valley and there remained until the eversion of feudalism.
Under the Spanish Castles opened to trade of Italy and Europe. In the fifteenth century was linked to the duchy of Atri, as also demonstrated by a fresco by Andrea De lithium in the parish church of San Rocco. The feud became famous in the sixteenth century to the start of production of ceramics. In this era the village, due to earthquakes, was completely rebuilt with baroque palaces and the Renaissance.
The ceramic art of castles, in Abruzzo, has ancient origins, but has become famous in the Sixteenth Century. Were the good workmanship of the ceramics, the colorful decor, but also the inexpensiveness of the products due to innovative production systems, which made castles one of the centers more appreciated for this art, especially in the seventeenth century. Among the principal teachers you annoverarono, in temporal order Antonio Lollo, Grue and kind. Although Castles is a small town in the province of Teramo, its role in the history of Italian majolica is prominent, especially in the period that goes from the XVI to the XVIII century.
The sixteenth century church of San Donato in Castelli, defined by Carlo Levi "The Sistine Chapel of majolica", constitutes, together with the coeval pharmaceutical tableware Orsini-Colonna called, the ideal starting point for a subsequent production that enjoyed great fame, in Italy and abroad; so much so that one of the most important collections of ceramics of the Castles is today preserved in the museum of the Hermitage, Saint Petersburg.
Castles also houses the Museum of Ceramics as well as the Institute of Art "F. A. Grue".