ETYMOLOGY OF THE NAME
The name probably derives from the Lombard Gasto or Guasto and dates from subdivision of the territory during the rule of the Lombards which began in the last quarter of the 6th century.
One legend has it that the city was named Histon by Diomedes and was originally inhabited by tribes from Dalmatia. What is known for certain is that the land which currently comprises the City of Vasto (Punta Penna) was settled at some unknown time by the Frentani who were in close contact with both the Samnites (from whom they descended) and the Greek colonies of southern Italy and Sicily (including Syracuse). The Frentani were considered by Rome to be allies (Foederati), following the Social War (or War of the Allies) between the late 4th and early 3rd century B.C. the town (Histon) that had grown a few kilometres south of Punta Penna became a Roman municipality and its name latinized to Histonium. With the fall of Western Roman Empire the city went into decline falling first into the hands of the Ostrogoths then the Byzantines and finally by the Lombards. It became part of the Duchy of Benevento and was conquered and destroyed by the Franks in the year 802. In ensuing years it returned to the Lombard Duchy of Benevento and was rebuilt as a fortified centre on the ruins of the pre-existing town. Between the 13th and 19th century the town and the region in which it was situated were part of the Kingdom of Naples which after the union with the Kingdom of Sicily came to be known as the Kingdom of the Two Sicily’s. During this time in the era of the House of Anjou the town was ruled by the feudal Caldora family and following the advent of the Aragon dynasty to the D’Avalos (end of the 15th century) who constructed the palace of the same name (Palazzo D’Avalos). In 1710 Vasto was given the official title of city.
The beating heart of the city is “Piazza Rossetti” or “Rossetti Square” named after the poet Gabriele Rossetti (Vasto 1783 – London 1854). Corso de’ Parma is the favourite street of the people of Vasto (Vastese) for their walks. It connects Piazza Rossetti with the D’Avalos Palace skirting the beautiful castle dating from the Caldora era. Walking along Corso de’ Parma unravels a maze of streets and lanes that will lead you to the most characteristic corners of the historic centre, such as Piazza Barbacani, the Cathedral and Piazza Caprioli. Skirting the D’Avalos Palace you will find a panoramic walk and the Loggia Amblingh.
LThe city is rich in cultural events and initiatives during the year. Among the fixed annual events there is the “Vasto Prize”for contemporary art, the innovative “Art in the dunes”, the historical representation of the “Golden Fleece” and theVasto Film Festival.
The Vastese style fish broth “brodetto” is the most typical dish of the city.