TOU RUOTTOUR UOT

of

CENTRAL
ITALY

LAZIO

Designed by GZ

Compiled by Giorgio Zanetti (Links checked Feb, 2010)

*** PART 5 - CASTELLI ROMANI ***
*** PHOTO ALBUM by Giorgio Zanetti ***
SUBIACO TIVOLI PALESTRINA ROCCA DI PAPA - CASTELLI ROMANI
PART 1: NORTHERN LAZIO * * * PART 2: SOUTHERN TUSCANY * * * PART 3: UMBRIA * * * PART 4: ABRUZZO

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INTRODUCTION: Described in the following pages is a tour of Central Italy that my family and I undertook in the summer of 1989.
We arrived at Rome's Fiumicino airport on June 17 and departed from the same airport on July 16. After picking up a pre-booked rental car at the airport, we followed a broadly pre-outlined itinerary and, as we progressed on our journey, decided when and where to go next .

The towns with a

coral background

are towns where we stayed one or more nights.



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THIS IS THE LAST PART OF THE TOUR OF CENTRAL ITALY SERIES

WHERE

DESCRIPTION

SUBIACO

(408 m. asl)

We stayed at: starstarstarLivata, on Monte Livata (1350.m. asl)

With the day of departure to return back home fast approaching, we thought of spending the last couple of days, just before leaving, in a relaxing mode area but not too far from Fiumicino airport. We decided that Rocca di Papa would be the perfect place of our last stop.

We left the Parco d'Abruzzo content of having done a few hikes and, on our way to Rocca di Papa, aimed for Subiaco via the Piane del Fucino and then backtrack through Capistrello and the Monti Simbruini range for a distance of about 135 Km. The road through the Simbruini is narrow, tortuous and the scenery wild.

Subiaco , the ancient Sublaqueum (under the water) sprung up on the grounds of a extensive villa built by Nero, and embellished by three artificial lakes, the "Sumbruina stagna" of Tacitus. The villa and the lakes disappeared when the dam broke, thus its name.
The present small town spreads picturesquely around the slopes of a hill in an amphitheater of mountains.

Benedict of Nursia (Norcia) settled in this valley of the Aniene around 480; he and his numerous pupils established 12 monasteries in the area, of which only the Monastero of S. Scolastica (dedicated in 981 to his saint sister) survives.

. THINGS TO SEE IN SUBIACO

* In 1465 in the Monastery of S. Scolastica was printed, for the first time in Italy, a book (Cicero's "De Oratore") published by Arnold Pannartz and Conrad Schwienheim of Germany.

The monastery has three cloisters, one built in the 16c. and had to be repaired after the damages of the last war; the second cloister, built originally in 1052, was rebuilt in the 14c. and displays a splendid pointed arcade in late German Gothic style (15c.); The third has a fine Romanesque arcaded court with Cosmatesque capitals and mosaics. The neo-classic church by Quarenghi, originally consecrated by Benedict VII, has a fine carved choir-stalls and some frescoes of 1426. The remarkable Romanesque Campanile was built in 1052-53.

* The Monastero di S. Benedetto also called "Sacro Speco" is a picturesque monastery built on a cliff where we find the cave (speco) used by St. Benedict as a hermitage for three years. The style is mainly a 13c. Cistercian Gothic, with the upper church having 14c. alterations. The monastery displays very important frescoes of the 9 and 10c. with the earliest painting dated from around the 800 depicting a Madonna and Child with Saints. Others frescoes date from the 13c. Roman school and from the 14c. Siennese school.

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TIVOLI

(225 m. asl)

On our way to Tivoli, 43 Km. from Subiaco, I had to go and visit the small and picturesque hill village of Anticoli Corrado (512 m. asl) 20 Km. north of Subiaco. What attracted me to visit Anticoli Corrado was the lofty and medieval aspect of the village in addition to the written footnote that the women from here were renowned (still?) for their beauty and were much employed by the artists in Rome (Muirheads's Southern Italy; Blue Guides, 1925). When we arrived in the large main piazza we noticed only a few old people sitting on shaded benches gossiping with the parish priest.

Tivoli, the ancient Tibur, is fabled to have been founded long before Rome by a colony of Siculi. It is splendidly situated on a limestone chain on the left banks of the river Aniene where its water falls 106 meters.

The town flourished under the Roman emperor Hadrian.

. THINGS TO SEE IN TIVOLI

* Hadrian's villa, occupying with its magnificent grounds a vast area just 6 Km. south of the town, was created as a marvel of architecture by Hadrian himself between 125 and 135 A.D.
The systematic excavation of the site only began in 1950, but these magnificent ruins have inspired the imagination of numerous architects since the Renaissance.

* Villa d'Este was built on a site, purchased by Cardinal Ippolito d'Este in 1550, originally occupied by a Benedictine monastery. The long three-storied palace, one of the finest of the Renaissance, was built by Pirro Ligorio the great Mannerist architect which also laid out the grounds.

In the 35,000 sq. meters area of the garden there are 255 waterfalls, 60 springs, 50 fountains, 50 jets, 250 sprays, 100 ponds; it draws 1,200 litres per second from the Aniene river. Tourist information about Villa d'Este

* The great waterfall (106 meters drop).

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PALESTRINA

(465 m. asl)

From Tivoli we head south towards Palestrina, 27 Km. south of Tivoli, where we will visit the area where the great Temple of Fortuna Primigenia once stood.

Palestrina, the Roman Praeneste, is one of the most ancient towns in Italy existing since the 8c. B.C; its history is lost in the mythology. The city is also the birthplace of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1524-94) the great composer.

. THINGS TO SEE IN PALESTRINA

* The Temple of Fortuna Primigenia used to rise up from the via degli Arconi, all the way to the hilltop. It contained various stairways, porches, exedrea, arches, columns, statues and fountains. Lateral stairways led to the first level where today is a park. A stairway led to the second level where Piazza Margherita is now, with the Cathedral and the Corso. This level was called the Hall level, because the Oracle dwelt there. Other stairways led to the third level, now via del Borgo, and to the fourth level, now via Barberini and Piazza della Cortina, where a great rectangular portico, topped by a huge hemicycle, held a little round temple with the statue of the Goddess. The sweeping fašade of the Palace Colonna-Barberini, built at the top of the hill in the 11c. and largely restored in 1493, has maintained the semicircular line of the stairway.

The building now houses the Archeological Museum with finds from the temple district. Among its most important items are some engraved bronze mirrors and the extensive Nile mosaic dated from the 1c. B.C.

* Three kilometers further up from the Palazzo Colonna-Barberini there is a place called Castel San Pietro Romano with the ruins of a 14c. fortress and with a sweeping view as far as Rome.

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ROCCA DI PAPA

(685 m. asl)

We stayed at: Hotel Europa

PARCO NATURALE DEI CASTELLI ROMANI

We left Palestrina heading west through Frascati and arrived in lofty Rocca di Papa approximately after 35 Km.

From here the airport of Fiumicino is only 50 Km. away and it is rather easy to get to it.

We chose Rocca di Papa because it is the highest town of all the Castelli Romani and a good choice it was for it offered a great view and coolness in the air.

The Alban Hills, where the dozen towns within are collectively called Castelli Romani, are basically a volcanic group of hills within a vast crater the circumference of which is more than 60 Km.
The center of this large crater is the smaller crater of Monte Cavo (948 m. asl) bordered by others such as the crater-lakes of Nemi and Albano and the basin of Ariccia.

. THINGS TO SEE AROUND THE CASTELLI ROMANI

* Rocca di Papa is picturesquely perched on the slope of Monte Cavo. On the summit of this mountain, the Mons Albanus of the Romans, stood the most venerable sanctuary (Jupiter Latialis) of the 47 towns of the Latin Confederation; here they celebrated, every year, the great sacrificial festival of the Feriae Latinae. The exact location of the temple is unknown because Cardinal York is said to have used, in 1783, the last remains of the temple's ruins to build a monastery.
Very interesting is a walk up to the top of the town through the narrow streets.

* Lanuvio was built on the site of ancient Lanuvium, famous for its temple of Juno Sospita. It preserves ruined temples, a theatre, a few Roman walls and the picturesque Fontana degli Scogli designed by the architect Carlo Fontana in 1675

* >Genzano is built terrace-wise on the outer slope of the cone of Lago di Nemi. From the Belvedere, at the top of the town, you can overlook the lake 100 meters below.
Genzano is famous for the festivity that since 1778 attracts thousand of tourist on the Sunday after Corpus Domini which is called "Infiorata"; on this day Italo Belardi street is covered by a carpet of flowers divided in many panels artistically arranged to represent various subjects.

* Castel Gandolfo occupies the site of Alba Longa, the city founded, according to the legend, by Ascanius, son of Aeneas. Since the 1600 the Popes have had their summer residence established here, overlooking lake Albano. Just below the main piazza, which boasts an elegant fountain and a church by Bernini, there is a belvedere from where you can admire the lake and mount Cavo just across.

* Lake Albano is an elliptical lake occupying an older crater with a maximum depth of 170 meters; it is fed by underground sources and the drainage of the surrounding cone.

* Albano Laziale, said to be the site of Alba Longa by some experts, sprung up from the Castra Albana established by Septimius Severus in circa 195 A.D.
The Communal Palace is built on the ruins of the thermae and has Italian style gardens and a belvedere overlooking the vast Campagna Romana; Santa Maria della Rotonda is a peculiar circular edifice that once was a nympheum in the Villa of Domitian.

Just outside the town walls stands theTomb of the Horatii and Curiatii

* Ariccia stands in the elliptical depression that once was a crater in the midst of delightful woods. This town is famous for the Porchetta, a succulent roasted suckling pig often served in a sandwich from the various stands on the side of the road.

From Albano Laziale we get to Ariccia via an impressive 300 meters long and 59 meters high viaduct, built in 1854 on three levels of arches.
The Palazzo Chigi designed by Bernini dominates with its quadrangular towers the main piazza, and across it stands the round church of the Assunta, built by Bernini in 1664, with a large dome and two towers.

* The town ofNemi is picturesquely situated above the north east bank of the lake.

* The beautiful lake of Nemi, gem of the Alban hills, lying deep within a ring of wooded hills is the ancient Nemorensis Lacus, also called the "Mirror of Diana", to whom a sacred grove (nemus) and temple were consecrated in the vicinity.

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SASSO SASSO SASSO

The above data was gleaned from the following sources:

(1) Italy: a Phaidon Cultural Guide; Prentice-Hall, Inc. NJ - 1985
(2) Muirheads's Southern Italy; Blue Guides, Italian Touring Club, Macmillan, London - 1925
(3) Beadeker's Central Italy; Karl Beadeker Pub., Leipzig - 1909
(4) Northen Lazio An Unknown Italy; Wayland Kennet & Elizabeth Young, Butler and Tanner Ltd., London - 1990
(5) A Piedi nel Lazio di Stefano Ardito (vol. 2); Edizioni Iter - 1987
(6) Let's Go - The Budget Guide to Italy; 1989, Harvard Students Agencies Inc., St. Martin's Press N. Y.
(7) Various tourist brochures.

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Copyright © 2001 G. Z.