Loc. Grancia in the Municipality of Morino, where there are the Head Offices of the Reserve and the museum, is an important settlement witnessing the historical events of the territory of the Reserve.
The name, rather common in the Italian toponymy in this form or as "granza" or "grangia", derives from the French word "granche" or "grange", which in turn derives from the Latin "granica" (= place used as a wheat deposit). In the Middle Ages, this word was used to identify particular structures connected to the monastic settlements; it could both refer to a building used as a deposit for agricultural products situated within an abbey complex and to an autonomous group of buildings far from the abbey, but linked to the exploitation of the local resources owned by the monastery.
In the last case, the "grancie" were farmsteads basing their economy not only on the cultivated fields, the pastures for the flocks, the forests providing timber, but also on the exploitation of the local quarries and mines, with buildings functional to the use of these resources like mills and forges working thanks to a wise use of the power of water.
This kind of agricultural settlement is mentioned in written documents dating back to the 12th century and it mainly depended on the monasteries of the Reformed Benedictine, the Cluniac, the Cistercian, and the Carthusian monks, famous for revolutionizing not only the religious spirituality of their period, but also for improving the exploitation of the estates they owned through a more dynamic economic management careful to the technical advances conquered by the agriculture of the Lower Middle Ages. Moreover, the technical skills with which, above all the Cistercian monks, canalized the waters for the drainage and the irrigation of the fields or for the exploitation of the water energy in the machinery employed in the raw material processing are well-known; this use is documented for instance in the French abbey of Fontenay, where the strength of the water moved the heavy power hammer of a forge used in metal working.
The Cistercian "grancie" have been studied from an architectural point of view above all in England and in France while in the rest of Europe, including Italy, the researches are still far from a global vision of the phenomenon. However, in general, the architectural typology of these buildings varies a lot, and it remains strictly linked to the function they had: storehouses for cereal, cellars, barns, workshops, etc.
The "grancia" of Morino, depending on the Cistercian abbey of Trisulti, is one of the most famous complexes of Abruzzo; it is characterized by the toponym Grancìa, by the existence of craftsmanship evidences, like the mill and the metal forge - the latter described by Alexandre Dumas around the half of the 19th century, and finally by the abundant presence of water, essential both for the agricultural exploitation of the soil and for the working of the craftsmanship plants. The ruins of the mill near the building housing the museum and of the ironworks structures which were situated not far away along the stream of the Schioppo lead to believe that the center of the "grancia" coincides with the area where the museum rises. The "grancia" of Morino is not the only interesting historical structure in the reserve: there are also some other important monuments witnessing the local historical events and settlements. The ruins of the ancient historical town center of Morino are picturesque, and they dominate from the summit the bottom of the valley. The settlement developed from the homonymous castle mentioned in the writings of the 12th century, which had been probably built on a "marso" fortified center. The old town was inhabited until 1915, when, because of the strong earthquake in Marsica, it was abandoned and then rebuilt in the current area.
In the location Brecciose there are the ruins of the church of S.Pietro, known since the second half of the 11th century as a religious building depending on the Benedictine abbey of Montecassino.
The most charming and best preserved monument, at least as far as the structure is concerned, is the church of S.Maria del Pertuso, also called del Cauto, situated at about 1000 mt. near the waterfall of the Schioppo. The building, which is mentioned in documents dating back to the 12th century, lies within the estate of the Cistercian abbey of Casamari. The not very big structure is partly carved in the rock, and it preserves some fragments of the frescoes decorating its vault and the walls with representations of the Madonna, the Saints, and the clergy.
Province: L'Aquila Region: Abruzzi