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Lazio is not only Rome: landscapes and monuments of Lazio

Rome, the capital of Italy and a unique open-air museum in the world, is enough to make Lazio one of the most beautiful and interesting regions. Even in terms of landscape, it boasts an area of great impact and remarkable variety, with its long coastline, beautiful hills and Apennine mountains. A destination to fall in love with.

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Art & Culture

Calcata

Calcata, a village revived by artists Immersed in the woodland of the Treja Valley Natural Park, between Rome and Viterbo, Calcata stands out like a vision on a tufa limestone plateau overlooking the valley below. The settlement has never required the addition of any outer walls because it is as if it were suspended at the top of a rock formation and access is provided by a single arched portal. Abandoned in the 1930s due to a fear that landslides might occur at this point, Calcata was later repopulated in the second half of the 20th century by a colony of artists to whom it owes its current vitality. Highlights of Calcata A visit to Calcata will most certainly draw you back in time, and to a period which may be hard to define. It might be the distant, mysterious age of the Faliscans who formed part of a pre-Roman Italic civilisation dating back to the Iron Age (IX-VIII century BC). The Faliscans were the first group that populated this valley. We may also feel we have returned to the Middle Ages, when the houses of the village - partially made of stone and partially excavated in the tufa stone - were created. It might be the period of the Anguillara castle or even the 1960s, when Calcata became a popular venue for a group of Roman bohemian folk who quietly came to inhabit the village. The latter were followed by artisans and artists from all over Europe who, seeking a truly human-scale environment, came here to live and set up shops and ateliers. It is now a richly diverse village and the home of various cultural initiatives, such as the Grotta dei Germogli, a nouvelle-style restaurant and social club, installed in an elegant cave-like environment embellished also by decorative mosaic surfaces produced with recycled materials. Just outside the village, in the sub-district of località Colle, you can walk around the Opera Bosco open-air contemporary-art museum and workshop. Created in 1996 by the artists Anne Demijttenaere and Costantino Morosin, this initiative has been supported by contributions made by dozens of other artists. The works displayed at this site are produced exclusively with natural raw woodland materials that are present and are transformed and dissolved in the woods. Today the museum forms part of the museum network of the Lazio Region. It is certainly worth visiting the garden surrounding the house of the architect Paolo Portoghesi. The space was originally conceived as a repository of various memories of an architectural historian who became enchanted by the natural world and its suggestive local setting. In his “Garden of Wonders” Portoghesi installed a variety of structures, fountains, flower beds, pools and ceramic works, upon which appear particular phrases, poems and quotations. Six olive trees with centuries-old trunks have a sculptured appearance and Portoghesi felt he should assign to them the names of the artists Bernini, Michelangelo, Borromini, Rodin, Brancusi and Moore. In his book Abitare poeticamente la terra. La casa, lo studio e il giardino di Calcata (2022) Portoghesi and his wife Giovanna recount what attracted them to live at Calcata, a location that initially became a weekend retreat and eventually their permanent place of residence. The Treia Valley Regional Park A visit to Calcata should also include a tour of the valley of the river Treia. Over a distance of approximately thirty kilometres this tributary of the Tiber flows through a territory of volcanic origin where it has created deep gorges, and generating an ideal humid environment for amphibians and reptiles in the dense undergrowth. On the slopes exposed to the sun the Mediterranean maquis is the dominant form of vegetation. Nor should you miss a visit to the Monte Gelato district, with its waterfalls, medieval tower, an old water mill and natural basins. This beautiful, cool area offers an oasis in all seasons, thanks to the verdant natural shades of the spring and summer, and acquiring a magical atmosphere as the colours of autumn gradually appear. Likewise, from the valley below the village of Calcata presents a splendid panorama. The houses, veiled by yellow and reddish lichen, appear to merge with the rock formation upon which they rise and acquire a camouflaged appearance beside the colours of the woodland, presenting an ethereal vision. For further information www.parchilazio.it/valledeltreja
Art & Culture

Civita di Bagnoregio

Civita di Bagnoregio: the village struggling to live Only a long footbridge connects Civita di Bagnoregio to the rest of the world. On a tuff spur, in the heart of Tuscia, between the Tiber valley and Lake Bolsena, one of the most fascinating villages in Lazio, albeit undermined by the erosion of the fragile tuff rock on which it was built. In the province of Viterbo, from its alleys the eye can reach the spectacular Valley of the Calanques, deep furrows in the ground created over millennia by rainwater erosion. History of the village and its landslides At least 2,500 years of history are stratified in this small village: Civita was founded by the Etruscans in the 5th century BC when the settlement was one with today's Bagnoregio, then called Rota. It then became a Roman colony, in the 6th century a Lombard colony, later, incorporated into a fiefdom, and in 1140, a free commune. In the Renaissance, Civita di Bagnoregio had the upper hand over Rota, experiencing a moment of great development, with the construction of new palaces and the cathedral. From the 15th century to the present, however, the territory of Civita literally thinned out due to no less than 134 landslides documented in manuscripts, chronicles and various other sources. In 1695, an earthquake caused the entire district of Contrada Carcere, the district that connected it to Bagnoregio, to collapse from the cliff. Other major collapses occurred in 1764 and the following centuries. Since 1965, Civita di Bagnoregio has only been accessible via a pedestrian viaduct. About ten people currently live there permanently. The village of Civita The village is entered through the Porta di Santa Maria gate, known as Porta Cava because it was originally a street cut into the tuff. On either side of the arch are two bas-reliefs commemorating a victorious popular uprising in Civita (1457) against Orvieto’s Monaldeschi family who were oppressing them. Worth seeing is the beautiful church of San Donato (formerly the Duomo), rebuilt in the 17th century, with interesting works of art including a 15th-century wooden crucifix. Interesting is the Geological and Landslide Museum, inside the 16th-century Palazzo Alemanni, explaining the difficult evolution of the territory, also to better understand Civita’s future. The museum offers guided tours and excursions. Finally, one of the most venerated places in Bagnoregio is the San Bonaventura Cave, an ancient Etruscan chamber tomb, overlooking the valley, transformed into a chapel in the Middle Ages. According to legend, this is where the miraculous healing of little Giovanni Fidanza took place by St Francis. The Valley of the Gullies Civita di Bagnoregio is surrounded by the fairy-tale landscape of the Valle dei Calanchi, geological formations created by erosion, small valleys of clay soil over which rainwater does not penetrate, but slides, removing the surface layers and preventing the growth of vegetation. The unique landscape of Tuscia's calanchi (gullies) makes it possible to slip into these valleys and observe up close formations that look like castles made of tuff, clay cathedrals with spires and pinnacles. They exist throughout the area known as the “Forre della Teverina” between the municipalities of Bagnoregio, Castiglione in Teverina, Celleno, Civitella d'Agliano, Graffignano and Lubriano. The events of Civita di Bagnoregio The beauty and uniqueness of Civita di Bagnoregio lend themselves well to the organisation of special events. On Good Friday, re-enacting the Passion, the wooden statue of Christ from the church of San Donato is carried in an evocative procession to the cathedral of Bagnoregio. The first of May is traditionally spent walking through the gullies. On the first Sunday in June and again on the second Sunday in September, the Palio della Tonna, a race of four donkeys ridden bareback by jockeys, is held in the church square. The patron saint is celebrated on 15 July. In October, the village smells of roasted chestnuts for the chestnut festival. At Christmas, Civita is lit up with torches in the atmospheric living nativity scene.
Art & Culture

Castel Gandolfo

Castel Gandolfo, where the popes go on holiday Castel Gandolfo is a village overlooking Lake Albano, which the popes have made their summer holiday residence. Thanks to Pope Francis, the Papal Villas, the Papal Palace and the Barberini Gardens, which have been welcoming popes and high prelates during the summer months for 400 years, are now open for visits. On the shores of Lake Albano, 30 kilometres from Rome, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy welcomes you with its landscape quality, buildings designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and the remains of Roman imperial villas. Palaces of the Pope The papal residence of Castel Gandolfo stands on the remains of one of the most famous villas of antiquity, the Albanum Domitiani, the immense residence that the emperor Domitian commissioned to be built on the shores of Lake Albano, on which he loved to sail. The villa was later abandoned, as Emperor Hadrian had the villa at Tivoli built, while another emperor, Septimius Severus, preferred to settle one of his legions there. Systematically plundered of its marble, which was also used for the construction of Orvieto's beautiful cathedral, centuries of abandonment followed for the Roman villa. Then, in the 13th century, a stronghold of the Gandolfi family was created among its ruins, which was later incorporated into the fiefdom of the Savelli family, who were forced to cede it to the papacy to settle a debt. It was 1604 when the territory was declared an inalienable patrimony of the Holy See and Carlo Maderno, one of the designers of St Peter's Basilica, was commissioned to build a Papal Palace. Under Pope Alexander VII, Gian Lorenzo Bernini was also commissioned, and he built the church of St Thomas of Villanova with its elegant slender dome and a fountain. With the end of the Papal States in 1870, the papal residence was abandoned for 60 years, until the Lateran Pacts resolved to restore it. With the acquisition of Villa Barberini, the gardens were also laid out, and in 1934 the 16th-century Vatican Observatory (Specola Vaticana) was moved to Castel Gandolfo, because the sky in Rome was too bright and was no longer suitable for observing the stars. Thanks to the will of Pope Francis, since 2014 the papal complex of Castel Gandolfo, which enjoys the same extra-territorial privileges as the Vatican, has been open for visits. What to see in Castel Gandolfo If you enter the village from Porta Romana, you will find yourself in the elegant Piazza della Libertà overlooked by the Papal Palace, the Church of St Thomas and the fountain, both by Bernini. On the eastern flank of the square is the road leading to the Belvedere, where you will suddenly see Lake Albano in all its beauty. Opposite the Belvedere is the entrance to Villa Barberini, with its Italian garden. All that remains is to go down to the lakeside beaches to relax a little, or head to a restaurant to try a frittura di latterini, small fish from the lake which is served fried, and goes well with a glass of Colli Albani wine. The village also has an open-air street art gallery, with works by Italian and international artists. Images of a dreamlike Castel Gandolfo are portrayed here, along with Caravaggesque Madonnas and other works on the themes of women's dignity, hospitality and social commitment against the mafia. By train from the Vatican to Castel Gandolfo Castel Gandolfo can also be reached by train directly from the Vatican City. Not everyone knows that next to St Peter's Basilica there is a lavish station served by tracks connected to the national train network. It was built in the 1930s under the Lateran Pacts, and a passageway in the Vatican walls was opened to allow the trains to pass through. The first pontiff to use the Vatican railway station was John XXIII, on 4 October 1962, for a pilgrimage to Loreto and Assisi, but the railway was only occasionally used by the popes, and was used mainly for freight. Now tourists who wish to visit Castel Gandolfo can use it, on Saturdays, from spring to autumn, by prior reservation. The train arrives into Albano Laziale, then continues by shuttle bus to the papal residence complex. For further information: www.comune.castelgandolfo.rm.it
Point of interest

Genzano

Genzano, the town of the Infiorata, strawberries and bread The town of Genzano lies on the crater of Lake Nemi, on the Appian Way, in the dense woods of the Castelli Romani area. It is the city of the Infiorata, a large carpet of fresh flowers for the religious festival of Corpus Christi, but also of delicious PGI bread and strawberries. A favourite destination for many Roman out-of-town trips, a charming and scenic place to relax amidst greenery and history. What to see in Genzano A walk through the village of Genzano is a continuous discovery of panoramic views of Lake Nemi and the countryside sloping into the crater. In the historical centre, the bulk of the 18th century Palazzo Cesarini Sforza, the barons of Genzano, stands out. On display on the piano nobile, the Hager-Sportelli collection, a hundred or so works of art from the 17th and 18th centuries that belonged to Hellmut Hager, one of the greatest scholars of Baroque architects Carlo Fontana, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Filippo Juvarra. On the mezzanine floor, the permanent exhibition Symposium, at the table between myth and culture displays artefacts related to wine culture with a nucleus of works recovered by the Guardia di Finanza as part of operations to combat illegal trafficking in antique works. There is also a section in the palace dedicated to archaeological finds from the Antonine villa (1st century AD) where two Roman emperors, Antoninus Pius and Commodus, were born. The exhibition is the result of an ongoing excavation campaign carried out in cooperation with an American university and during the summer months, archaeologists are always at work. Also worth a visit is the church of Santa Maria della Cima, with its monastery, the remains of the medieval walls and the Infiorata museum, which recounts the most deeply rooted tradition in Genzano, between history and collective memory. The Infiorata of Genzano, Heritage of Italy Every year, for the feast of Corpus Christi (the second Sunday after Pentecost, usually in June), the centre of Genzano is covered with a 2,000-square-metre carpet of fresh flower petals divided into 14 squares made up of more than 400,000 carnations of every colour. The Infiorata di Genzano, recognised by the Ministry of Tourism as 'Heritage of Italy' is one of the most spectacular events of its kind, renewed annually since 1778. A festival that is not just tourist marketing, but a sense of belonging and identity for the locals. Moreover, its preparation lasts a whole year: during the winter, sketches are designed and prepared. In April, how many and which flowers will be needed is estimated. In May the work site is set up and in June, on the Thursday before Corpus Christi Sunday, the stripping activity (separating the petals from the corollas) begins. The petals are divided by colour and kept in cool caves under the town hall. In addition to carnation petals, the following: broom, sausa, fennel, pine seed, chrysanthemum, pine bark, vine black, maize, rice, sage, chilli, wheat, soya, pine nut husks, oregano, coffee black, bran are also used. The laying of the petals and creation of the floral images takes place between Saturday evening and Sunday morning. In the following months, an inventory is made of the materials that can be stored and preparations are made for the next edition. The highlight of the festival is on Sunday afternoon with the procession on the Via Infiorata and continues on Monday with processions and bands until the village children come running down the steps of the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli and finally unravel the flower paintings. What to eat in Genzano: PGI homemade bread The local gastronomic speciality is Pane casereccio di Genzano, the first in Italy to be awarded the PGI mark made from wheat flour, water, natural yeast and salt. The dough is left to rise for about an hour: cut into rolls and loaves, it rests in wooden boxes with hemp cloths and is dusted with bran, then baked in a wood-fired or electric oven. The crust is crispy, the inside is soft and spongy: thanks to the natural yeast, so-called mother yeast or sourdough, it keeps for days. The bakers of Genzano are united in a consortium that monitors compliance with production specifications and ensures survival of the wood-fired ovens. The bread is sold in loaves of 0.5 to 2.5 kg.
Art & Culture

Lanuvio

Lanuvio: ancient walls and good wines On the last foothills of the Alban Hills, near Rome and in a dominant position on a plateau sloping down to the Latium coast, lies Lanuvio, a small medieval village enclosed by a beautiful city wall that dates back in places to the 5th century BC. Its narrow streets paved with cobblestones leading to squares adorned with Baroque fountains and façades of palaces incorporating Roman remains, on display in the civic museum, are intriguing. What to see in Lanuvio Lanuvio and its territory are like an open-air museum A timeline beginning in the 5th century BC with the construction of the megalithic walls made of local stone, some sections of which remain. The Sanctuary of Juno Sospita (in Latin, propitious), a divinity of Roman mythology of whom we have news from Cicero's writings, can be visited in the park adjoining Villa Sforza Cesarini and dates to the same period. In the centre is Palazzo Colonna, unfinished, although it is the birthplace of Marcantonio Colonna, one of the architects of the victory at the Battle of Lepanto (1571): a marble sarcophagus from the Roman era (3rd-4th century AD) is placed on the main façade. Also worth a visit is the 14th-century Rocca, where the Enoteca del Consorzio dei vini Colli Lanuvini is located, the best place to taste the area's wine production: later, you can visit a small museum of rural traditions and climb the watchtower, symbol of the town, from where the view is breathtaking. There is also a small civic museum in the old town centre, with a pre-Roman section recounting the ancient origins of the village and a Roman section with a fresco from the Augustan period with a Dionysian theme and other artefacts from the sanctuary of Juno Sospita, whose archaeological excavations dating back to the early 20th century are also on display. Two works by Carlo Fontana, a pupil of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, can be seen in the village: the Fontana degli Scogli (1675) and the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, of Byzantine origin but rebuilt in Baroque style. Along the walls is the foundation of a temple dedicated to Hercules from the 2nd century BC, while from the belvedere terrace, you can see the Pontine Islands on a clear day.
Region

The capital region that amazes with its history and beautiful landscapes

Lazio is home to some of the most important monuments of Roman civilisation, but it is also a wonderful destination for those who want to experience its sea or its countryside, dotted with picturesque villages and charming towns. And then there's them, Lake Bracciano, the Aurunci Mountains and the Circeo National Park, making Lazio an amazing nature destination.

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