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Art & Culture

Lazio

Roccalvecce: a walk in the forgotten village so close to Rome

A village where time seems to stand still and the atmosphere is one of fairy tales: Sant'Angelo di Roccalvecce is a charming village that in recent years has become part of a redevelopment project.

Its proximity to the famous Civita di Bagnoregio, the “dying town”, makes this area of the Viterbo area a hidden gem, still untouched by large-scale tourism.

1. Discovering Roccalvecce, amidst myths, history and legends

Its relative isolation allows Roccalvecce to remain suspended in time. It is located just a few kilometres from Rome and brings instant joy to visitors with its colourful murals. The images capture many classics of children's storytelling, such as Alice in Wonderland, The Jungle Book and The Sword in the Stone; among the most interesting are the one dedicated to Don Quixote and the one with the witch from Hansel and Gretel, to name but a few.

There are 36 artistic graffiti works scattered around the narrow and picturesque streets of the village, all of which blend in perfectly. In addition, other artistic pieces such as bas-reliefs, mosaics and sculptures have been added, again reminiscent of the world of children and of fantasy. The project came about thanks to the determination of Gianluca Chiovelli, a local citizen who, together with his sister Paola, founded a cultural association to give the village a new look. Mission perfectly accomplished!

Through street art, the village has been reborn, bringing with it many other initiatives such as the first Mediaeval Walk between Roccalvecce and Celleno, which will be followed by other projects to revitalise the folklore and natural sites of this part of Italy.

2. The history of the mediaeval village of Roccalvecce

Immersed in the natural setting of the Valle dei Calanchi, Roccalvecce has a mediaeval structure and beauty, and romance can be sensed everywhere. Its origins are quite ancient: from an Etruscan settlement it later became a “Roman castrum”. From 1200 onwards, it passed under the control of various noblemen.

The etymology of the name is not known for certain, and there are, amid myth and legend, two different versions. The first is directly linked to the Middle Ages when the area took the name “Rocca del Veccio”, after the commander who built it. The other possible story is linked to the 1400s, when the fortress became part of the Papal patrimony. It stood on the border between the Papal State and the Republic of Siena, and was a stopping place for the Swiss guards, hence the name "Rocca Helvetica" and hence Roccalvecce. 

3. What to see in Roccalvecce in a day

Pretty tuff houses and panoramic views are among the first features that catch the visitor's eye. The Palazzo-Castello Costaguti towers over the entire area, and its owner, one of the few local residents, is the Marquis Giovangiorgio Afan de Rivera, who has established a guesthouse here that focuses strongly on the beauty of the area and on food and wine.

The castle is not the only monument here; the church of Santa Maria della Rocca is also very impressive. All around, framing the context, is a magical panorama of the surrounding countryside.

Its proximity to the capital makes the village easy to reach and an ideal destination for a trip out of town, amidst culture and Instagrammable views.