1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Vasto

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[ 947 ]

VASTO (anc. Histonium), a fortified town of the Abruzzi, Italy, in the province of Chieto, situated high on an olive-clad slope, about a mile from the Adriatic, 32 m. direct S.E. by E. of Chieti and 131 m. by rail from Ancona, 525 ft. above sea-level. Pop. (1901), 10,090 (town); 15,542 (commune). It is surrounded by medieval walls, and commands fine views extending to the Tremiti Islands and Monte Gargano. The churches of S. Pietro and S. Giuseppe have Gothic façades. There is a medieval castle. The municipal buildings contain a collection of Roman antiquities and inscriptions. There are manufactures of earthenware, woolen cloth and silk; but the inhabitants are chiefly employed in the culture of the olive and in fishing.

The ancient Histonium was a town of the Frentani, and an Oscan inscription of the period of its independence speaks of censors there, probably officers of the whole community of the Frentani (see R. S. Conway, Italian Dialects, i. 208, Cambridge, 1897). Though hardly mentioned in history, it was a flourishing municipal town under the Roman Empire, as is shown by the numerous inscriptions found there. One of these mentions its Capitolium or temple of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. It lay on the line of the ancient road which prolonged the Via Flaminia to the S.E., and reached the coast here after having passed through Anxanum (Lanciano). It was, and still is, subject to severe earthquakes. (T. As)