A long sequence of moderate-magnitude earthquakes (5< M <6) struck central Italy in September and October 1997. At the end of the sequence a year later, the seismogenic area extends for about 60 km along the Apennines. The analysis of historical seismicity suggests that this seismic sequence filled a >700-year gap in this portion of the chain. Other historical sequences in the same area are characterized by prolonged seismic release on adjacent fault segments, probably due to the involvement of shallow and complex structures inherited by the compressive tectonics. The distribution of seismicity and the fault-plane solutions show that the extension in this region is accomplished by normal faults dipping at relatively low angles (∼40°) to the southwest. The focal mechanisms of the largest shocks reveal normal faulting with extension perpendicular to the Apenninic chain (northeast–southwest), consistently with the Quaternary tectonics of the internal sector of the northern Apennine belt and with previous earthquakes in adjacent regions. Three mainshocks occurred on distinct 5- to 10-km-long fault segments, adjacent and slightly offset between each other. High-quality aftershock locations show that seismicity is confined within the sedimentary Mesozoic cover in the upper 8 km of the crust and that most of the aftershocks are shallower than the largest shocks, which nucleated at ∼6-km depth. Faults evidenced by aftershock locations have a planar geometry and show increased complexity toward the surface. Most of the aftershock focal mechanisms are dominated by normal faulting. Several strike-slip events occurred at shallow depths, reactivating portions of pre-existing thrust planes that segment the normal fault system. The spatiotemporal evolution of seismicity shows a peculiar migration of hypocenters along the strike of the main faults with multiple ruptures and the activation of fault segments before the occurrence of the main rupture episodes.