Still not much known despite the many beauties of the territory, the Ciociaria area and its capital offer visitors stunning sceneries, charming villages surrounded by green countryside and historical sites.
Home of ancient Italic populations such as the Ausonians and the Samnites, Ciociaria includes the area of the Ernici and Ausoni mountains, and the valleys of the Liri and Sacco leading to the Gulf of Gaeta.
The river Cosa that runs along the rise of Frosinone before flowing into the river Sacco has always been important in the history of the city; this is attested by the finds from the necropolis discovered along the river's course. The springs that gushed from the ground are proof of the fact that the river was the only source of supply for the city, even in later periods.
The hills alternate with ranges of mountains, often corroded by karstic phenomena such as the caves of Pastena, a complex of caves and underground cavities with spectacular stalactites, stalagmites and subterranean lakes. There are also the caves of Collepardo that in addition to the beauty created by dripping water have yielded discoveries dating back to the Bronze Age.
In addition to the routes that privilege the green land of the area and make a perfect destination for nature lovers, the Ciociaria and its capital are an ideal starting point to visit ancient villages perched on hills and ancient abbeys.
Sitting on a irregular hill and developed accordingly, Frosinone is a center of Volsca origin, conquered by the Romans in 386 BC. The old part of town is located on the hill overlooking the plain, the modern one, in the area below. Piazzale Vittorio Veneto is a real balcony over the surrounding valley while its Cathedral, dedicated to St. Maria Assunta, is of Roman origin, although largely rebuilt in later periods. Among the historical monuments, the Pietro Tiravanti building is definitely one of the most impressive of the city.
The Palazzo del Governo (Government Palace), the seat of the Prefecture, whose construction started in 1825, holds furniture from the Reggia di Caserta (Royal Palace of Caserta), while the Palazzo della Provincia (Province Palace), in neoclassical style, contains, among others, works by Renato Guttuso and Umberto Mastroianni.
Among the most important centres of the province there is Anagni, with a splendid Romanesque Cathedral and its subsequent Gothic influences and the frescoes of the crypt, the Palazzo di Bonifacio VIII (Boniface VIII Palace), which houses the Museo Storico Bonifaciano (Historical Museum of Bonifacio); Ferentino, with the Duomo (Cathedral) of Roman origin, and the remains of the market and the Roman theater; Alatri and its acropolis occupy the top of the hill, enclosed by polygonal walls, one of the best preserved examples of polygonal construction in Italy. Severely damaged by one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, the Abbazia di Montecassino (Abbey of Montecassino) was founded by St.Benedict in the sixth century and is considered one of the best known monasteries in Christendom. The Abbazia di Casamari in the territory of Veroli, is another example of Cistercian architecture in central-southern Italy, immersed in an enchanting place with the mountains as a frame.
The presence of hills, green areas and highlands makes Ciociaria a suitable place for excursions and outdoor sports.
There are numerous places where nature lovers can enjoy various activities including trekking, hiking and horse riding. Among them the natural reserve of Lake of Posta Fibreno, the natural parks of Selva di Paliano (Paliano Forest), Lake Cardito, the Vallerotonda pine forest, Lake Canterno, the monumental castagneto (chestnut forest) of Terelle, the waterfalls of the river Liri in Isola del Liri, the grottos of Collepardo and Pastena.
The spa is another attraction, and Fiuggi is an important thermal centre. The therapeutic use of its water is known since the year 1000. Suffice it to say that by the end of the thirteenth century, Pope Boniface VIII would periodically send legates to Fiuggi in order to collect the miraculous water, and Michelangelo Buonarroti also loved to take advantage of their valuable therapeutic properties.
For those who enjoy skiing and snowboarding, Campo Staffi and Campocatino are equipped ski resorts located at an altitude of about 1,500-2,000 metres.
As for the popular events and the major rendezvous, one should mention the Festival del Folklore in Alatri, an event to discover other cultures, and the Palio dei Rioni with the historic tournament. The Festa delle Stuzze (Festival of Stuzze) in Fiuggi is very suggestive, unique in its kind, where large lit up tree trunks are carried by participants on their shoulders down the city streets. According to legend this symbolism of the lit fire refers to the miraculous intervention of St. Blaise, who showed his enemies, who were attacking the city, huge flames and fire so as to make them desist.
In Pastena, the Festa della SS Croce ed il Maggio (Festival of the Holy Cross and May) takes place every year as a major springtime event when crop fertility rites are practised and women prepare local specialities.
The local cuisine shares the approach and the basic products of the cuisine of Lazio, but is also affected by the influence of the Abruzzo region. The dishes are based on ingredients from the land, simple but of great quality.
The most common types of handmade egg pasta are: maccaruni; very thin fettuccine, seasoned with meat or tomato sauces; gnocchi with polenta; cannelloni; and the famous timballo (pie) Ciociaro made with macaroni seasoned with chicken, meat sauce, meatballs, mushrooms and truffles.
There are also traditional soups, sagne and beans, and various pasta with legumes dishes, cooked according to tradition, with the flavours of Ciociaria. A very tasty rustic meal are the calascioni, made with filled pastry, ideal as a snack or appetizer; the meat is mostly pork, lamb, chicken and rabbit, combined with seasonal vegetables to prepare dishes of peasant origin and rare goodness.
The desserts are very simple, mostly dry confectionery baked and prepared following recipes handed down from generation to generation. Among these are the characteristic ciambelle al vino (donutsdoughnuts made with wine); susamello, a typical Christmas cookie similar to the tozzetto from Siena; the pigna (pine cone), a typical Easter cake spiced with aniseed, candied fruit and delicate aroma of liqueurs; finally, there's the amaretto of Guarcino.
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