In the middle Aniene Valley in the province of Rome, Vicovaro stands on an outcrop of Monti Lucretili.
The village was built on the ruins of the ancient city of Varia, a settlement of the proud Equi people, conquered with great difficulty by the Romans on their way to conquer Abruzzo and build the Via Tiburtina. The Aniene Valley, and nearby Ustica Valley, had an eminent past, as we are reminded by Roman poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus, who had his wonderful Villa in this area, near what is now the village of Licenza.
The name “Vicus Varius” is recorded in the early Middle Ages, in connection with the Benedictine monastery of San Cosimato. The territory, a buffer state between the powerful abbeys of Farfa and Subiaco and the Diocese of Tivoli, was gifted by Pope Celestine III to his nephews in 1191. From Vicovaro, the family's first feud, came the power of the glorious Orsini family.
The relationship of the princes with the population was always very good, not least thanks to the rulers promoting the "Charta Libertatis", one of the oldest statutes in the province of Rome, in 1273. Under the Orsini family, Vicovaro flourished economically and artistically: many palaces and churches were built, including the Tempietto di San Giacomo Maggiore, with a façade that bears witness to various construction phases.
Don’t miss the 18th-century church of San Pietro, built on the wishes of the Cenci-Bolognetti family, new feudal lords, over the medieval Orsini church;
the ancient parish church of the Holy Saviour with the oratory of San Sabino;
the church of Santa Maria, once a Franciscan convent, home to a Franciscan community in the early years of Franciscanism;
the Sant'Antonio Abate church standing on the mighty cyclopean walls;
the church and convent of San Cosimato, with the hermitages that tell of the life of Saint Benedict, who lived there, before going to Subiaco, and famously suffered an attempted poisoning by monks not so accustomed to submitting to the rigidity of the law.
It is a village worth visiting to immerse yourself in history, in the beauty of the Monti Lucretili Natural Park and the Aniene Valley.