Escher in Abruzzo – A Trail of his Hilltop Towns & Mountain Villages

Maurits Cornelis Escher Belvedere
Belvedere - Escher's homage to Abruzzo from 1958. It was based on the view from Pettorano sul Gizio, showing the Subequana Valley, on the left the Sirente range and on the right the Gran Sasso

The Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher is best remembered today for his hypnotic, geometrically impossible architectural inventions, but not so many are aware of his love for travelling in Italy, and in particular Abruzzo. It was the archaic wilder spaces, which Abruzzo has in such in splendid abundance, that inspired Escher, resonating with his mathematical mind and his lithographic style.

Escher criss-crossed Abruzzo with a donkey and horse for company on several occasions during the late 1920s & early 1930s, and his travels among Abruzzo’s small towns and landscapes inspired some of his earliest, and arguably finest artistic work.  Despite now being in famous museum collections round the world, there are still many today who recognise the images but not the artist’s name, let alone the region or name of Abruzzo.

What many admire in Escher’s depictions of Abruzzo is his ability to imbue the pictures with a serenity that somehow complements the often contorted isolation and sheer contours of the scene. His work superbly illustrates how the journey itself is as important as the end destination. Try visiting any of the villages today and follow a path to see how little has changed in the 100 years since he visited.

A big thank you to Pete Austin, moderator on the Life in Abruzzo facebook group for delving into his books, finding and scanning  so much of the imagery used in this article and Antonio Constantini from the FotoamaratiScanno group for sharing imagery of Escher himself.

Sam Dunham
Author: Sam Dunham

Sam is a very lucky midlife 'mamma' to A who is 12 and juggles her work as a self-employed freelance SEO food and travel copywriter and EFL teacher. She is the founder of the Life In Abruzzo Cultural Association, co-founder of Let's Blog Abruzzo. she is the founder of the 'English in the Woods' initiative, teaching English outdoors in a forest style school.

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Kevin Denham
Kevin Denham
6 May 2022 06:56

Congratulations, great article. You are doing so much to promote Abruzzo. The Abruzzo Tourist Board could learn a great deal from you!!

16 September 2022 02:43

Enjoyed this very much. Love Abruzzo and Escher. Glad I stumbled upon this article.

Linda Marianetti
Linda Marianetti
17 March 2023 00:52

Just returned from Celano Abruzzo, have always loved MC Escher – now love them both even more. Thank you. Wonderful information.

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