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Archive for the ‘Latium Cities’ Category


At the beginning of the second millennium, a huge number of pilgrims travelled to Via-Francigena3three major destinations:  Rome, the city of the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul, the italy-via-francigenafounders of the Christian church; The Holy Land, site of Calvary, where the pilgrims viafrancigena4sought out the places of Christ’s Passion; Santiago de Compostela, the furthest point of western Europe which the Holy Apostle James chose as his final resting place. Thus Europe became a vast web of roads, paths and routes all of which led towards these pilgrimage sites. The way to Rome was along what was probably the most important road of the times, the Via Francigena or Via Romea which led to the Eternal City from the Western Alps and the Rhineland and was used for seven centuries by sovereigns, emperors, plebeians and clergymen. The Via Francigena led all the way from Canterbury to Rome and was one of the pathways of European history. It was a main thoroughfare along which hundreds of thousands of pilgrims passed on their way to Rome. In those days, the journey was not just an adventure or a risk but an act of devotion in itself, and the pilgrims would stop off along the way at places deemed holy by the Church.
The Via Francigena cut through the Alps in the Valley of Aosta and proceeded southwards through Piedmont, Lombardy, the flatlands of the river Po (Padania) before going through the Apennines near Berceto to pass into Tuscany and Latium, and then Rome. This route is an essential and formative phenomenon in the history of Europe.
If we look at the Etrurian section, we can identify the route and the posting stages. From Proceno, a resting station, the pilgrims moved on to Acquapendente which was a fundamental part of the journey as it contained a precious reliquary from the Holy Land, now kept in the Cathedral crypt. They then travelled down to Bolsena, an important town because of the Corpus Domini miracle, and on to Montefiascone, a mediaeval town even then known for its wine. The next stage was Viterbo which, indeed, developed and grew thanks to its strategic position on the Via Francigena. Viterbo thus became a cardinal destination on the itinerary and was well supplied with hospices and lodgings. The traces of this concentration of pilgrim activity are still very much to be seen today. After Viterbo, travellers faced the obstacle of the Cimini mountains which they traversed by going either to the right or to the left along the Vico Lake. The more popular choice varied from age to age. One way led to Ronciglione and the little church of Saint Eusebius. The other led through chestnut woods and we may still make out traces of an old path that passed by the Cistercian Abbey of St Martins in Cimino. The pilgrims would then make their way to Vetralla where a country road led them to the little church of Santa Maria in Forcassi, mentioned by Sigericus. After this, the road led to Capranica, Sutri, Monterosi and then the pilgrims left the Via Cassia for the Via Trionfale that led them into Rome at last.

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In south-east direction from Rome after 35 km. , between Lago di Albano and Lago di Nemi, there is Ariccia. Aricia boasts very ancient origins. As in all Latin cities, the first inhabitants of these places had to fight to maintain their independence. “Aricia” was the capital of the Latin League at the end of the 4th century B.C., and the battle of Aricia successfully thwarted the military ambitions of the Etruscans in Southern Latium.
The “Ariccini” also fought against Rome until being subjugated in the 4th century B.C. Ariccia became one of the most important Roman communities because of its geographical position between two volcanic lakes, Albano Lake and Nemi Lake. The people of Ariccia were devout worshippers of the goddess Diana, . Her temple, located in the “Nemus Aricinum”, now Nemi, was one of the main sanctuaries in the Latin territory dedicated to the goddess .
During the Middle Ages, Ariccia was sacked and pillaged by barbarians during the Roman campaign. In 1473 Ariccia passed into the hands of the Savelli Family, which started the reconstruction of the territory, and began work on the noble palace. Acquired in the 17th Century from the Chigi, Family, the town was completely re-zoned by the architectural genius of Gian Lorenzo Bernini . He collaborated with many artists, Carlo Fontana. being the most well known amongst them.
In the beginning of the 1700’s, Ariccia became a haven for important artists and writers of the time. In the course of the 19th century, the layout of the town changed greatly when the Appian Way, which went down through the valley (Valle Ariccia) was bonified, under the auspices of Pope Pius IX. Thanks to him, in fact, a bridge with three orders of arches was constructed over the thickly wooded area (now Chigi Park), where the road reached up to Galloro hill.

About the Palazzo Chigi ,the ducal palace of Ariccia is a unique example of a baroque home which has remained virtually unchanged in its environment and with its original furnishings, and is a testament to the great wealth of one of the most important Italian papal lines: the Chigi family.
The family was also the owner of the Chigi palace in Rome which today houses the offices of the Council of Ministers of Italy. Begun in the second half of the sixteenth century by the Savelli family, the palace was transformed into a lavish baroque home between 1664 and 1672 using plans by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, with the collaboration of his young student Carlo Fontana.
The palace houses a large collection of paintings, sculptures and decoration, mostly dating back to the seventeenth century, which also came from the family’s Roman residence, which was sold to the state in 1918. Perhaps due to the Spanish feel of the décor, Luchino Visconti decided to set his famous film “The Leopard” here, filming several scenes within the palace.
The palace was given to the City of Ariccia on 29th December 1988 under special conditions, by Prince Agostino Chigi Albani della Rovere, and is now a museum and cultural center, hosting various activities such as exhibits, concerts, guided tours, meetings, and the like.

Suggested accommodation for this area : http://www.romahappydays.com/ariccia-flat/

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Rieti is placed in the north part of Latium on a small hilltop commanding a wide plain, at the southern edge of an ancient lake. Today only the small lakes of Ripasottile and Cantalice remain of the original basin.
Rieti was originally a major site of the Sabine nation. After the Roman conquest, carried out by Manius Curius Dentatus in late 3rd century BC, the village became a strategic point in the early italic road network, dominating the “salt” track (Via Salaria) that joined Rome to the Adriatic Sea across the Appennine mountains.
Through a deep cut in the limestone at the northern edge of the valley, Curius Dentatus made the water of the lake flow away in the Nera river, then the wide area once occupied by the lake turned into a fertile plain, and the land was split by surveyors into square allotments, in the shape of a regular grid.
The town itself was re-founded on the basis of orthogonal axes, and was fortified with strong walls all around; a stone bridge was laid across the Velino river, and a great viaduct was built to lead people and carts from the Salaria road up to the southern door of the town. Roman Reate deserved several quotations in the Latin literature thanks to its flourishing soil, its valued asses, and some weird peculiarity of the surroundings, as wandering islands, roaming sources and hollow-subsurfaced fields.
Cicero tells about litigation between Reate and Interamna for the lake drainage, and refers to the country houses (villae) that his friend Q. Axius owned in the plain. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Rieti suffered destruction by barbarians people, but was always an important gastaldate during the Lombard domination, as part of the Duchy of Spoleto. Under the Franks, it was capital of county. In the 9th and 10th centuries, it was sacked by the Saracens, and, in 1149, by the Norman king Roger II of Sicily.
The city was rebuilt with the help of the Roman commune, and from 1198 was also a free commune, of Guelph orientation, with a podestà of its own. As a favourite Papal seat, Rieti was the place of important historical events: Constance of Hauteville married here by proxy Emperor Henry VI (1185); in the cathedral, in 1289, Charles I of Anjou was coronated King of Apulia, Sicily and Jerusalem by Pope Nicholas I. Pope Gregory IX celebrated here the canonization of St. Dominic (1234). After the Papal seat had been moved to Avignon, Rieti was conquered by the King of Naples, while inner struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines began. In 1354 it was captured back by Cardinal Albornoz, and later was a feudal seignory of the Alfani family within the Papal States. In the following century a program of drying of the neighbouring plain was carried on, but this led to quarrels with the city of Terni. Rieti was province capital of the Papal States from 1816 to 1860. After the unification of Italy, it was initially part of Umbria, being annexed to the Lazio in 1923. It became capital of province on January 2, 1923.

The main monuments to see are: The Palazzo Vescovile (“Bishops Palace”), The Gothic church of Sant’Agostino (13th century, restored in the 18th century) and The Cathedral, begun in 1109 over a pre-existing basilica, was consecrated in 1225 but almost wholly rebuilt in 1639.

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Anticoli Corrado is a town located near the border with Abruzzo, an area of rocky mountains Ruffi around the Aniene Valley 60 km from Rome and 30 km from Tivoli. The town was a fortified village, during the Roman Empire.
The town’s name derives from “Ante colles” and that of Count Corrado di Antiochia who was the feudal lord during the thirteenth century. In the middle of the fifteenth century, Anticoli becomes a possession of the Colonna family.
Women Anticolana, already famous for their beauty, in the first half of the nineteenth century are also ‘discovered’ by the Italian painters, and especially foreign ones,  that searching for landscapes and atmospheres arrived here. The town is now known as the land of artists and models because of the reasons mentioned above.
We recommend visiting the following sites of artistic interest: St. Peter’s Church (XI century)., Baronial Palace (XVII century)., Square of the City Hall and the Museum of Modern Art, which contains within it numerous works of art collected in this museum during the course of centuries. In the village you will find many private studios of painters.

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Tarquinia, is an ancient city in the province of Viterbo. Starting from Rome and following Via Aurelia we will arrive in this important etruscan city after 97 Km.
The modern-day town ofTarquinia, rich in medieval monuments, is in the northern part of Lazio. It’s one of the largest collections of Etruscan archaeological finds belongs to theNationalMuseum. Guided tours of the painted tombs in the necropolises near the town also leave from the museum. The finds on display in the museum include: the sarcophagi; the burial treasures found in the nearby necropolises, vases of all types and origins, decorations belonging to the Ara Reginae temple and a number of painted tombs, moved here to save them from destruction.The ancient city of Tarquinia (TarXna in Etruscan) stood on the La Civita hill, close to the modern city. Very little remains of the urban fabric of the city: the remains of the solid walls of the 4th century BC, made of square blocks of limestone and about five miles long, and the remains of a temple of the first half of the 4th century BC known as Ara Reginae. The importance of Tarquinia is shown by the legend according to which the city was founded by Tarchon, the companion of the mythical hero Tyrrhenus, the ancestor of the Etruscans. Until the beginning of the 6th century BC, the city was a centre of secondary importance. From then onwards, thanks to the intensification of trading contacts withGreece, it grew in importance until it became one of the main cities of the Etruscan league in the 4th century BC. Between the end of the 4th century and the beginning of the 3rd century BC, Tarquinia, at the height of its power, came into conflict on several occasions withRome.
The rural landscape ofEtruriawhere is Tarquina is characterized by a succession of hilly areas covered by thick woods, rich in water. In the southern part, alongside the hills there are also lakes of volcanic origin surrounded by mountainous areas. The distribution of the territory was at the basis of the birth of the Etruscan people: the borders of property were considered sacred and inviolable, and accurately marked by stone blocks. The first agricultural activities were the cultivation of wheat, barley, millet, broad beans and lentils. The territory, with abundant grazing land, was also suitable for livestock raising: the commonest species were cows, pigs and sheep, to provide food and work and horses, used for transport and in battle.
Tipical products of this area are honey, wine, extra-virgin oil, vegetables canned in extra-virgin oil,
canned fruit and vegetable pates.

Places to visit in Tarquinia are:

  • The Etruscan necropolises, with some 6,000 tombs, 200 of which include wall paintings. The main site is the Necropolis of Monterozzi, with a large number of tumulus tombs with chambers carved in the rock. The scenes painted include erotical and magic depictions, landscapes, dances and music. There are also carved sarcophagi, some dating to the Hellenistic period. Main tombs included the Tomba della Fustigazione and the Tomb of the Leopards.
  • Remains of the Ara della Regina (“Altar of the Queen”) temple, measuring c. 44 x 25 m and dating to c. 4th-3rd century BC. IT was built in tuff with wooden structures and decorations. Also traces of the Etruscan walls (c. 8th century BC) exist: they had a length of some8 km.
  • The National Museum, with a large collection of archaeological findings. It is housed in the Renaissance Palazzo Vitelleschi, begun in 1436 and completed around 1480-1490
  • Church of Santa Maria di Castello (1121–1208), with Lombard and Cosmatesque influences. The façade has a small bell-tower and three entrances. The interior has a nave and two aisles, divided by massive pilasters with palaeo-Christian capitals and friezes. Noteworthy are also the rose-window in the nave and the several marble works by Roman masters.
  • The Cathedral, once in Romanesque-Gothic style but rebuilt after the 1643 fire, has maintained from the original edifice the 16th century frescoes in presbitery, by Antonio del Massaro.
  • Churchof San Giacomo and Santissima Annunziata, showing different Arab and Byzantine influences.
  • The Communal Palace, in Romanesque style, begun in the 13th century and restored in the 16th.
  • The numerous medieval towers, including that of Dante Alighieri.
  • The Palazzo dei Priori. The façade, remade in Baroque times, has a massive external staircase. The interior has a fresco cycle from 1429.

Suggested accommodation for this area: TARQUINIA ROOMS

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In Ostia you have to see the ruins of this city and also the Seaport of Claudius and the Castle of Julius II.
If you like to arrive in Ancient Ostia from Rome, take the metro “B” line from Termini Station until the metro stop of Magliana. Then from here take the train for Ostia Antica.
The remains of Ancient Ostia stand on a territorial and geographical context that is very different from the ancient one
: in fact, in the Roman age, the Tiber skirted the northern side of the inhabited area, while nowadays it scarcely touches a portion of the western sector, having had its bed dragged downstream by a famous and disastrous flood in 1557.Moreover, the shoreline as well, originally close to the town, is now 4 km away from it, because of the advance of the mainland due to the debris left by the river over the last 2000 years. Ostia, therefore, was a town built on both the sea and the river and such a special position determined its relevance over the centuries from a strategic-military and an economic viewpoint.According to an ancient tradition, it was founded as a colony by the fourth king of Rome, Ancus Marcius, about the year 620 BCE, in order to exploit the salt-mines at the mouth of the Tiber (hence the name Ostia, which derives from ostium = embouchure). Nevertheless, the most ancient remain is a fortalice (Castrum), made of tufa blocks, dating only to the second half of the 4th c. BCE, built by the Roman settlers with the solely military aim of controlling the mouth of the Tiber and the Latian coast.
Later, especially after the 2nd century BCE, when Rome gained supremacy over the whole Mediterranean sea, the military function of the town started to decrease, as it quickly became the main emporium of Rome. For this reason, particularly between the 1st and the 2nd century CE, Ostia greatly expanded by equipping itself with prominent public and private buildings.
In the following centuries, given the general decline of the Roman Empire, the town fell into a slow decay which led to the abandonment of the site after the mid-5th century CE.

In 42 CE the Emperor Claudius began the construction of a large seaport (Port of Claudius), located 3 km north of the mouth of the Tiber, and completed in 64 CE, under Nero’s principate.
The massive infrastructure ensured a quiet basin in which could be safely carried out the discharge of goods from the large trade vessels arriving from across the Mediterranean as well as their transhipment onto river boats (naves caudicariae) suitable for sailing up the Tiber as far as Rome.
The port basin, spanning more than 200 hectares, was excavated in the dryland partially enclosed on the seaward side by two curved piers converging towards the entrance. There, on an artificial island, stood a gigantic lighthouse, similar to the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria of Egypt, which indicated to seafarers the entrance of the basin. Also, at least two artificial canals ensured the connection between the sea, the Port of Claudius and the Tiber.
The foundations of the right-hand side (or northern) pier are still visible behind the Museum of Ships for an extent of about one kilometre.On the quay that bordered the dock on the landward side are still preserved some of the functional structures relevant to the port: the so-called Captaincy, a cistern and some thermal buildings constructed, though, in a later period (2nd c. CE) than Claudius’s structure.
The scant security and the progressive silting to which the port was prone, drove the emperor Trajan to build, just 40 years later (between 100 and 112 CE), a new more inward basin, the Port of Trajan. The Port of Claudius, continued, however, to be used as a roadstead

In 1483, under the pontificate of Pope Sixtus IV, the Bishop of Ostia Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere (the future Pope Julius II) began the construction of the Castle of Ostia, which was completed in 1486 under Pope Innocent VIII . The fortalice incorporated the pre-existing round tower, built in 1423-24 under Pope Martin V Colonna, which became the keep of the new building. The fortress served as the seat of the Papal Custom Houses, which regulated the payment of excise on goods arriving in Rome by sea.
Once ascended to the papal throne, Julius II (1503-1513) had important transformations made: a true papal apartment was built on the western side of the courtyard, by means of refurbishing some of the environments of the era of the Borgias. The three floors of the building were connected by a monumental staircase, frescoed, according to recent studies, by Baldassare Peruzzi with some collaborators, among them being the Lombard Cesare da Sesto.
At the end of the conflict between France and Spain, in 1556, the fortress of Ostia underwent a famous siege by the Spaniards, which resulted in no few damages to the structure. One year later, in 1557, after a sensational flood, the Tiber shifted its course to the present one. This caused the transfer of the Papal Custom Houses first to Tor Boacciana and then to Tor S. Michele.
In the 18th century the castle was used as a barn and then, in the following century, it became a prison for the convicts used as forced labour in the excavations at Ancient Ostia.
After several restorations made over the course of the 20th century, in 2003 an exhibition space was arranged in some of the rooms of the papal apartments and of the keep, in order to display the most significant part of the collection of late medieval and Renaissance ceramics, issuing from excavations carried out in the last century within the castle and the village.

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From Rome you can reach the area of Ciociaria in less than 1 hour, travelling by car of course. Ciociaria  is the  name of an italian region, situated in the heart of Italy, between Rome and Naples. It’s the ideal starting point to explore the suth part of Latium. The province of Frosinone, called Ciociaria is not very well known among tourists, but this land rewards generously its visitors with unspoilted nature, magnificent abbeys, archaeological treasures, genuine food and deep traditions. In Ciociaria you can do a journey among forgotten flavours and smells where the old-times taste of typical rural dishes can be appreciated on the tables of many typical restaurants, accompanied by local  wines, such as Cesanese and Passerina of Piglio, the Cabernet of Atina and Torre Ercolana of Anagni.
The Ciociaria has great gastronomic traditions
, you will be surprised by the quality of the food: the genuine local olive oil, the cheeses made with sheep’s, goat’s or buffalo s milk, the wines produced by the local farmers, and the preparation of dishes with vegetables selected in centuries of good farming. The Ciociarian cuisine can produce carefully prepared dishes with different types of meats, dressed pork products which are among the best in Italy, and such a variety of bakery products and sweets that it is almost impossible to treat them exhaustively. As far as “fettuccine” is concerned, they are only one of the home-made pastas typical of this area which can boast the most rich list of main courses of Latium. That is why the visit to the artistic, naturalistic and historical sights in Ciociaria must include a plunge into a world of flavours that await to be discovered and that, they alone, represent a trip in its own.
The Ciociarian cuisine has a country tradition, simple and genuine. The fundamental basis of its typical dishes are the ingredients, undoubtedly ‘poor’ yet of excellent quality. One of the most popular dish is a type of egg pasta, homemade and cut in thin noodles called ‘fini fini’, seasoned with a meat sauce or a simple tomato sauce. Among the main courses, there are also ‘gnocchi’ (flour and potato dumplings), you will find in most trattorias as dish of the day especially on thursdays and  the ‘cannelloni’(finger-thick tubes of stuffed pasta) and the well-known ‘timballo ciociaro’, also known as ‘Boniface VIII’s, a kind of stuffed lasagna. Tradional soups such as ‘sagne and beans’, ‘pasta and potatoes’, pasta and chick-peas’, prepared according to the Ciociarian tradition, have a special flavour. The second courses see a predominance of pork, sheep, rabbit or chicken meats, which, in the country is still genuine and tasty, because it usually comes from small, traditional stock farms.

The most famous artistic medieval castles and churchs in Ciociaria to see are: The Castle of Fumone, The Castle of Monte San Giovanni Campano and the Castle of Alvito.
The amazing churchs to visit are: The Church of Santa Maria Maggiore(Ferentino), The Cathedral of SS John and Paul (Ferentino),  St. Mary Major in Alatri and Basilica of St. Mary Salome(Veroli).

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The Monastery of St. Scholastica is built half way up the side of the mountain where two valleys meet and above the place where was the highest of Nero’s lakes. It is the only monastery of the twelve ones wanted by St. Benedict along the valley of the Aniene not to have been destroyed by earthquake or the Saracen invasions.
Till the end of the XII century, it was the only monastery of Subiaco. At the beginning it was called “St. Sylvester”, then, in the IX century, it was dedicated to St. Benedict and St. Scholastica and then, in the XIV century, got the present name. It is a building complex built in different times and styles. The XX-century styled entrance, above which the Benedictine motto “Ora et Labora” is written, leads to the first or Renaissance cloister, which goes back to the XVI century. Through it one enters the second or Gothic cloister, of the XIV century and, passing along there is the third or Cosmatan cloister, which is still more ancient (XIII century).
The bell-tower goes back to the XII century, while the present church to the XVIII one; the latter is the last of five churches built in time. The Façade, which was bombed on 23rd May 1944, has been reconstructed in a sober and austere modern style.

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