Tuscia and the Ager Faliscus: Land of volcanic lakes and ancient forests where wild animals dwell peacefully, deeply Etruscan and Faliscan, rich of Medieval and Renaissance palaces. It perfumes of chestnuts, hazelnuts and olive trees. It’s a wee jewel of inestimable richness.
Etruscan necropolis and the “lost town”, Amerina route and Santa Maria in Falleri Church (XII sec)
Distance from the hotel: 7,7 km (about 10 min.)
Just a few kilometers from our hotel, you can find the remains of the ancient Faliscan-Etruscan city of Faleri Novii, founded in 241 BC. You will see a huge town wall, in its center there is an arch in tuff with the sculpted face of Jupiter. Beyond the arch, you will find a wonderful Romanic Church Santa Maria in Falleri, we recommend visiting it during the Winter and Summer Solstices, a beam of light will enter the church like in a dream. Take a walk around the Church, under your feet the Roman town of Falerii Novi is buried. It was founded in 214 BC, certified by Cambridge University thanks to the use of georadar technique in the summer of 2020.
Distance from the hotel: 7,7 km (about 10 min.)
This necropolis is about 6,3 km from Santa Maria in Falleri Church and it’s on the ancient Amerina road. You can visit the famous Etruscan graveyard with its stunning chamber graves and take a look at the remains of a Roman bridge, enjoying the Tuscia wild countryside. If you are a trekking enthusiast, do not miss the chance of a walk through wildness. We recommend to start your route from the Etruscan Graveyards, continue following the path in front of you, then cross the river and reach the forest up the hill. Keep walking, pay attention to the other graveyards on both sides, follow the path until you cross another Roman bridge called “Fosso dei Tre Ponti”. It was built between the end of the second century BC or in the Augustan Age.
Advice: wear trekking clothes and boots, it is also recommended a hat during the summer.
Cathedral and Sangallo Fort
Distance from the hotel: 4,5 km (about 7 min.)
This magnificent cathedral called Cosmati Dome was built in the XII century by the famous Cosmati marble workers. The brighting colors, the shapes of marbles, the pavement and the columns will leave you breathless. The Cathedral was built in the IX-X century, it has three doorways: the central one is embedded among four Corinthian columns, while the other two doors are characterized by Cosmatesque ornamental motifs.
The external show many reliefs, cippus, plates and a precious Roman altar. The interior of the Church is stunning, with the Cosmatesque floor and a Roman sarcophagus of the IV century used as High Altar.
Tips: do not forget to go down the crypt. It is about the VII-VIII century and it’s a real jewel.
Very close to the Cathedral, you can find Sangallo Fort. It was built at the end of the XV century by Antonio da Sangallo the Ancient, from which the name comes from, by the will of Pope Alexander VI Borgia. Firstly papal residence, prison house, then safe shelter for many refugees during the II World War and then a museum from 1950 until now. Inside it’s possible to admire Faliscan, Etruscan and Roman findings of the territory.
Distance from the hotel: 4.5 km (about 6 min.)
The Natural Monument of the Ravines of Corchiano stretches along the course of the Rio Fratta, a stream which flows within the ravines beneath the old town centre of Corchiano. This area has a huge archaeological importance. Within the reserve you can find: prehistoric caves, Faliscan road constructions, ancient hydraulic systems, even a Roman bridge and part of the Via Amerina. It is very easy to get there, you can reach the park by using one of the many entries of the old town that leads to the ravines.
Distance from the hotel: 9 km (about 12 min.)
The church originates from a monastery founded here in 520 by Anastasius, a notary in the Roman court. In the early 11th century the abbot Elia built here a basilica which was mentioned, among the others, by Pope Gregory VII in 1176 and by Innocent III in 1211.
The basilica of Sant’Elia is a Romanesque structure with a nave and two aisles, and a transept. The columns separating the nave’s bays were likely taken from ancient Roman buildings. The paintings feature the Redeemer with Saints (including Paul, Peter and two unidentified ones). Below them are twelve lambs, symbolizing the apostles, who walk towards the Lamb of God. The lower part is occupied by a procession of Virgins with crowns, which were originally offered to the Madonna: this part of the fresco is now lost, only two archangels remaining. Other scenes include the death of St. Anastasius and the Archangel Michael calling Anastasius.
The high altar is surmounted by a ciborium decorated with a Cosmatesque cross and four columns. The church had originally a large bell tower, built in 1260 by the canons of Santo Spirito in Sassia who had received the monastery from Pope Alexander IV two years before. It was destroyed in 1855.
Tips: The floor is in Cosmatesque style and do not forget to visit the crypt!
Distance from the hotel: 20 km (about 26 min.)
he little town of Calcata is about 20 km from our hotel, it’s surrounded by tuff badlands and the green of the trees all around it. This old town is floored with river pebbles, it’s the perfect location for photography lovers and the perfect atmosphere for Halloween night! It seems that only 70 people live permanently here among Italians, Americans, Belgians and Dutches! For Pets lovers: you’ll find many cats wandering up and down the small city, they’re used to people and they love cuddles!!
Tips for History enthusiasts: Calcata is close to Faleria town, known by the Medieval History lovers as the last resting place of Otto III Holy Roman Emperor, who died at Paterno Castle, unfortunately today we can just observe its ruins.
La Valle del Treja
Distanza dall’hotel: 20 km (26 min. circa)
he Treja Valley Regional Park stretching for almost 650 hectares, is crossed by the Treja river and falls. This area is defined by the presence of the red tuff rock Ravines, a signature formation of the Afro Falisco territory. The vegetation of the park is in large part constituted by mixed forests. The presence of the river has made it possible for species of trees which require the proximity of water, for instance poplars, holm oaks, cork oaks and hazel trees. As regards the wildlife which populates the valley, many wild animals inhabit the forests of the valley, such as foxes, hedgehogs, dormice, porcupines and wild boars.
Tips for Birdwatcher enthusiasts: Many species of birds-of-prey can be spotted in these skies, such as the peregrine falcon, the sparrow-hawk, the black kite, buzzards and owls. During an excursion, one can also catch sight of woodpeckers, redbreast robins and nightingales. So keep your eyes open and listen to the sounds of nature!
Summer Tips: Too hot summer sun? Very close to the Old Calcata, you can take relief at Monte Gelato Falls enjoying the coolness of the trees inside the Treja Park.
Farnese Palace, the noble palaces and Vico lake
Distance from the hotel: 18 km (about 24 min.)
From about 18 km from our position, in the magnificent frame of Caprarola town, Farnese Palace overlooks the little city. It was the refined residence of the Farnese noble family, it was built for Alessandro Farnese, the future Pope Paul III who purchased the village of Caprarola in 1504. A few years later the project was given to Antonio da Sangallo the Younger.
If the exterior is remarkable, the interior is more than this: you could just become mesmerized by the frescoes of Zuccari brothers, Onofrio Panvinio and Fulvio Orsini. The palace is completed by the wonderful garden designed by Vignola and includes the Lower Secret Gardens and the upper gardens with the Hunting Lodge and the Pleasure villa. You can visit the garden only from Tuesday to Saturday and only if the weather is fine.
Distance from the hotel: 18 km (about 24 min.)
This fantastic castle is about 16 km from our hotel, it is a 16th-century castle. It is well known for its Renaissance-era Giardino all’italiana, one of the most wonderful gardens in Latium. The history of the palace The property was formed around one rock of the Benedictine friars built in the year 853, when this territory belonged to Pontifical State. The first feudatory was Beatrice Farnese in 1531, five years later, on his death, Pope Paolo III Farnese confirmed the descent to his daughter Ortensia, married to Sforza Marescotti.
The building underwent a transformation according to the Ghibelline architectural schemes, based on the design of the Sangallo. The castle as we see it today was wanted in 1610 by the wife of Marc’Antonio Marescotti, Ottavia Orsini, daughter of the creator of the suggestive Garden of Bomarzo, which left an indelible mark of his love for this place: his initials and those of his two sons Sforza and Galeazzo, thus allowing the certain dating of the birth of the garden.
It seems that everything stopped in the XVII century, it deserves a visit!
Distanza dall’hotel: 31 km (36 min. circa)
Palazzo del ‘500, essa è famosa per i suoi splendidi giardini all’italiana. Il nucleo originario risale alla fine del XV secolo, mentre il progetto complessivo della villa (1568-1578), come la conosciamo oggi, voluto dal cardinale Giovan Francesco Gambara, probabilmente con la consulenza di Jacopo Barozzi detto il Vignola, fu ideato e realizzato dell’esperto di idraulica senese Tommaso Ghinucci, già attivo a Villa d’Este a Tivoli, e i cui interventi a Villa Lante sono databili intorno al 1577.I lavori proseguirono prima con il cardinale Federico Cornaro (1588-1590) e successivamente con il cardinale Alessandro Peretti Montalto (1590-1623).
Nel 2011 Villa Lante è stata designata come “il parco più bello d’Italia” e dal 2015 fa parte del Polo museale del Lazio. L’acqua è la protagonista del giardino, incanalata nei bacini e nelle fontane monumentali, il suono e la visione dell’acqua ci deliziano ancora oggi come allora. Ma ci sono anche molteplici alberi antichi che popolano questo meraviglioso giardino.
Consigliamo di visitare anche la Palazzina Gambara (1588) e La Palazzina Montalto.
Distance from the hotel: 28 km (about 32 min.)
This small volcanic lake is not too far from Farnese Palace (13 km) and it is surrounded by the green of the hazelnuts and olive trees. It hides an ancient legend of a town submerged by water, a connection with Troy and Hercules the legendary. It seems that Hercules threw his club so strongly that when he pulled it out everything filled up with water. This small lake is wrapped in legend and surrounded by colored mountains of hazelnuts woods offering tracks which will excite you.
CAI trail no. 128B – From Loc. Canale al Monte Venere (duration: 1 hour, difficulty: E)
CAI trail no. 128C – From the Office of Lago di Vico Nature Reserve to Via Francigena
Distance from the hotel: 26 km (about 35 min.)
This majestic Orsini Castle is the master of the valley, surrounded by the wonderful colors of the Mount Cimino trees. It was built by the idea of the Pope Nicolò Orsini during XIII century, then it was residence of several noble families as Borgia, Della Rovere, Albani and Chigi; later property of the Holy. See and then Eminent Domain, at the end it has been even turned into a modern prison until 1989.
Advice: We recommend you to go to the top of the tower, there you will enjoy all the beauty of the landscape…
Tips: Not too far from Soriano nel Cimino, you can find the hamlet Chia, here there is the famous Chia Tower.
In the past it was part of a complex with sighting and defence purposes. At first it belonged to the Orsini Family, then Colonna and later to Della Rovere Family. It is popular among Cinema lovers, indeed the writer and director Pier Paolo Pasolini while he was shooting his famous film “The Gospel According to St. Matthew” (1964) fell in love with the landscape and decided to buy the tower and to use it as his second home.
The Ancient Beechwood of Mount Cimino
Distance from the hotel: 30 km (about 36 min.)
From about 5 kilometers from Soriano, you will find this fabulous Ancient Beechwood, it is 60 hectares big and it’s 1050 metres above the sea level. It’s a timeless magic wood, the branches of its high old beechwoods touch each other creating the roof of a green cathedral. Inside you will cross many volcanic stones, one of them was even described by Plinio the Ancient, who defined it as a true nature miracle.
Advice: dress trekking clothes and boots.
The ancient Monte Cimino beechwood (Soriano nel Cimino) was declared Unesco heritage site in 2017. It’s wonderful in every season: it wears orange and red in Autumn, of white in Winter and vibrant green during Summer. The beechwoods, the true lords of the forest, take their hands creating a huge and high green roof.
The Sacred Wood or Park of Monsters
Distance from the hotel: 41 km (about 35 min.)
Bomarzo has a unique piece of art: The Sacred Wood, also called the Park of Monsters. lt was designed by Prince Vicino Orsini and the great architect Pirro Ligorio in 1552. Refined italian style gardens follow geometric and prospective rationality with embellishments such
as wide terraces, fountains with water games and mannerist sculptures. On the contrary the learned Prince of Bomarzo dedicated himself to creating an eccentric “wood” having the blocks of peperino emerging from the ground sculpted into enigmatic figures of monsters, dragons, mythological subjects and exotic animals, a crooked house, a funerary temple, fountains, seats and obelisks with carved mottoes and inscriptions. They inspired many artists at the time including Annibal Caro, Bitussi and Cardinal Madruzzo. After the death of Vicino Orsini nobody took charge of the place and it only began to be appreciated by intellectuals and artists such as Claude Lorrain, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Salvador Dali, Mario Praz and Maurizio Calvesi after centuries of neglect.
Echos from Middle Age
Distance from the hotel: 34 km (about 42 min.)
Our Regional County seat hides a wee secret: the extraordinary Medieval quarter of San Pellegrino. Viterbo has a very old history. The first population we have proof of is the Rinaldone one, a civilization who lived in the center of Italy during the Eneolithic period (2500-1800 BC), whose name took its origin right from the small town near Viterbo. By the time, a small village raised in the valley where the Dome is: Surina, this name took origins from the God Suri, chthonic Etruscan God. As the time passed Surina became Sorrina Nova.
At the beginning of the V century The Roman Empire fell. Lombards came and created a Castrum where the Dome is: Castrum Viterbii. This construction was useful for them to straighten their defence against the Roman Dukedom. The growing importance of the town led even Frederick I, also known as Barbarossa, to enter the city. But it was during the XIII century that Viterbo was at its height , also because of the building of the famous Palazzo dei Papi: one of the most important symbols of the city. The election of Pope Gregory X went down in history! After 33 months without taking a decision, the tired town citizens decided to close the cardinals in the palace, taking the roof off and even stopping their feeding. From that
time on, the election of the Popes would take place by conclave.
Must-visit Tips: San Pellegrino Medieval quarter, San Lorenzo square, the house and the church of Santa Rosa da Viterbo, and last but not least the Etruscan National Museum of Rocca Albornoz.
Distance from the hotel: 23 km (about 31 min.)
This mountain was considered sacred by the ancient inhabitants of our land, it was also an important bunker during the World War II, and offers many trails to cover:
Trail 201 – Path “Madonna delle Grazie” (duration: about 30 min. , difficulty: T)
Trail 202 – Path “Vita” (duration: about 1h and 20, difficulty: T-E)
The Sacred Soratte Mountain was for many centuries used as a worship place by Faliscans, Etruscans, Capenates and Sabines, but also for Christians.
It was an important bunker during World War II. Now it’s possible to visit the bunker and the adjoining museum.
Distance from the hotel is 40 km (about 45 min.)
With a noteworthy historic town centre, Barbarano Romano has a very suggestive Etruscan necropolis, completely surrounded by green (it is better to dress hiking clothes and boots). The necropolis is about 2 km from the town, inside the Nature Regional Park of Marturanum and it boasts many graves of various styles and ages. After visiting this wonderful Etruscan necropolis, we suggest you to come back to the town to see with your own eyes the findings of these graves at the small but interesting archaeological museum.
Distance from the hotel 19 km (about 20 min.)
Vasanello is a small town that hides centuries of history of the Byzantines, Middle ages and Renaissance. The first thing everyone sees when one arrives in Vasanello is undoubtedly its majestic castle. In 1285 Orso Orsini started to build the fortified tower and gradually completed it. The castle was handed by several noble families as Della Rovere, Colonna, nowadays in Misciattelli hands. The rooms are wonderful, but the uniqueness of this castle is due to the Medieval gardens traditionally divided in four sectors: Hortus (for fruits and vegetables), Hortus Conclusus (the garden of love), Herbularius (for official and aromatic herbs) and Pomarium (orchard). Inside the castle there is also a small Ceramics factory of the XX century.
It is open only on request for groups of minimum 10 people, from the half of March to the beginning of November. The two hours guided tour includes: the rooms, the Medieval Garden, the Ceramics factory and also the exposition of some ceramics produced in the castle until 1980. Very close to the castle you will find Santa Maria Assunta Church, dating from XI century and probably built for pilgrims, it is near Amerina route. The crypt has three naves like the Church and it hosts the remains of the patron of the town Saint Lanno. From about ten minutes from the town centre, you can find the ruins of the medieval town of Palazzolo, nearby it is possible to visit the early middle age Necropolis called “I Morticelli”, this name is due to the small graves similar to children tombs.
This necropolis has a great historical and archaeological importance. It consists of particular and not widespread Logette graves of anthropomorphic shape. The burial places, digged down the stones, have room for the head, in the past covered by monolithic slabs or tiles, or other fictile material. The tombs can be dated back to the Byzantine domination of Tuscia, so VII-VIII centuries. In these ages the territory was in the limes of the so-called Byzantine corridor, therefore this suggests that there was a fluctuating dominion of Lombards and Byzantines.
Distance from the hotel is 22 km (about 24 min.)
Tito Livio defined it as the gates of Etruria, Sutri is on the ancient Cassia Road and through the centuries was the witness of many historical events, like the Donation of Sutri between Liutprando King of Lombards and the pope Gregory II in 728 and it was also a destination of the Grand Tour travellers. Nowadays it is one of the most important destinations for the pilgrims who walk the Francigena route. We suggest to stop at the archaeological park where you can enter the wonderful mithraeum and the ruins of the Roman amphitheatre, but also to venture through the small roads of the old town where you can admire several ecclesiastical buildings like the Church of Santa Maria Assunta (XII century) and Saint Francis Church established exactly by him in 1207 and many more. Archeological Park of the ancient town of Sutri We suggest you a visit to the ruins of the Roman amphitheatre (end of II century – I century) and the mithraeum : a monument of extraordinary beauty: at first Etruscan tomb, Mitra
pagan temple and then Christian church dedicated firstly to Saint Michael the Archangel and then dedicated to the Virgin with the Child ( Santa Maria del Parto ). It comprises over two thousand and six hundred years of history and cultural stratification, it is an ancient place and unique in its magnificence.
This museum is inside the old Palace of the Community of Sutri, office of the town administration since 1800. It is on four floors and contains several findings relating to Sutri and its territory like: sculptures, epigraphs, frescos and canvas. The museum preserves the sculpture known as the Sutri’s Ephebe. It is an imperial first period sculpture found in Sutri in 1912. The statue represents a young masculine figure, it is naked and in a standing position with the right arm on its head and the left bent, in order to carry a golden object maybe a mirror close to its face.
This wonderful Bishop’s palace has been an episcopal seat since 1986. The name Doebbing comes from the figure of Father Joseph Bernard Doebbing, in 1900 Bishop of Sutri and Nepi, a man of a deep culture and faith. We suggest you to visit the palace and the museum, which houses many interesting
exhibitions of art.
Distance from the hotel is 27 km (about 27 min.)
Orte is a very important town historically and archaeologically speaking. It is just one step closer to Umbria, it was funded by Etruschi Volsinii (Orvieto). Rome in the beginning of 1st century BC made Orte a “municipium”. Villas and farms were built everywhere, they benefited from the passage of the Via Amerina. During the Early Middle Ages, it was the theatre of conflicts between Lombards and Byzantines to ensure the control of the streets among Rome and Ravenna; the town further expanded in the half of the 9th century. We suggest visiting the hypogeum that constitutes the Underground Orte, The Museums and the archaeological sites: the Roman harbour and the Etruscan necropolis.
“the Dying Town”, “the Ghost Town” of Celleno and Sant’Angelo di Roccalvecce called “the Town of Fairy tales”
Distanza dall’hotel 40 km (circa 55 min.)
During fog days the small town of Civita di Bagnoregio seems to float over the valley, the ravines and the tuff rocks. Many artists, painters, writers and scientists have chosen Civita as their refuge. But not only humans find this small and ancient town perfect for living or chilling, also cats! To reach the city, you have to cross a bridge by foot (it is not possible to get there by car) and an arch. You’ll fall in love with this amazing town and its glimpses! Do not forget to visit the Museum!
Not too far from Civita di Bagnoregio, there is another ancient small town which deserves a visit, the so-called “Ghost town” of Celleno. It was built on a tuff cliff and was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1855. Of Etruscan origin, it was conquered by Roman and raided by Goths and Lombards. It worth a visit! After a History full immersion, we suggest you to reach another small town and let yourself be carried by Fantasy. This peculiarity has earned the appellative of “the town of Fairy Tales”: Sant’Angelo di Roccalvecce. Here fairy tales come to life on the walls of the city! You will meet the White Rabbit of Alice in Wonderland, Hansel and Gretel, the Sleeping Beauty and many more!
Bibliografia e Sitografia
SANTA MARIA IN FALLERI: www.comune.fabricadiroma.vt.it visitato: ottobre 2018
NECROPOLI ETRUSCA CAVO DEGLI ZUCCHI: www.pedalando.org visitato: ottobre 2018
DUOMO DEI COSMATI, CIVITA CASTELLANA: www.keebboo.com – www.inagrofalisco.it visitato: ottobre 2018
FORTE SAN GALLO, CIVITA CASTELLANA: www.mytuscia.com – www.beniculturali.it visitato: ottobre 2018
CALCATA: Ph. Erica Innocenzi
VALLE DEL TREJA: www.lazionascosto.it visitato: ottobre 2018
CAPRAROLA: romaelazioperte.blogspot.com – www.polomusealelazio.beniculturali.it visitati: ottobre 2018
VIGNANELLO, CASTELLO RUSPOLI: www.castelloruspoli.com – www.dltviaggi.it visitato: ottobre 2018
BAGNAIA, VILLA LANTE: www.polomusealelazio.beniculturali.it
LAGO DI VICO: www.movemagazine.it visitato: ottobre 2018
SORIANO NEL CIMINO, CASTELLO ORSINI: ilcamaleonte-coopsociale.blogspot.com – www.mytuscia.com visitati: ottobre 2018
SORIANO NEL CIMINO, FAGGETA VETUSTA: Ph. Erica Innocenzi
BOMARZO: www.sacrobosco.it – www.gonews.it visitati: novembre 2018
VITERBO: visit.viterbo.it visitato: novembre 2018 – www.ansa.it visitati: novembre 2018
TREKKING NELLA TUSCIA: Ph. Daniele Innocenzi www.caiviterbo.it visitato: novembre 2018
SECONDA GUERRA MONDIALE E MONTE SORATTE: notizie.comuni-italiani.it – www.bunkersoratte.it visitati: novembre 2018
VASANELLO: www.lazionascosto.it visitato: novembre 2018
Necropoli Morticelli – Pastura, G. IL TERRITORIO DI VASANELLO IN ETÀ MEDIEVALE, I, La realtà rupestre, ed. Davide Ghaleb, Acquapendente (VT) 2014, pag. 28
CORCHIANO: Ph. www.viagginaturaecultura.it visitato novembre 2019
ORTE: Ph. www.tripadvisor.it visitato novembre 2019