Marcus Travel Journal
Fall 2022 - Travels in Lazio, Umbria and Tuscany
Medieval village, 50 km from Castel Cellesi. One of the many villages holding the status i borghi piu belli d’Italia (most beautiful villages). Overlooks Paglia River valley with the mountains of southern Tuscany in the distance. Village is built around an historic castle and surrounded on three sides by the Monte Rufeno Nature Reserve. Also see Acquapendente.
Anguillara Sabazia, on Lake Bracciano, 90 km from Castel Cellesi. Named after ancient Roman villa Angularia previous located here. Anguillara a tourist destination for Romans with lake front promenade and options for holiday villas, houses or condos by the rail station. Old town sits on a hill, accessed through a gateway. Inside gate is a piazza with a fountain and a great panorama over the lake, appropriately called the belvedere (beautiful view).
Close to Anguillara are the ruins of Roman villas, the "Mura di Santo Stefano" and "Muracci di Sant'Andrea".
Capranica 60 km from Castel Cellesi, sits on hill over Sutri valley. Less tourists but popular with Romans with many luxurious properties. Three sections of town: two old areas sit atop a tuff rock between deeply eroded valleys. Castrovecchio is the oldest medieval section with narrow, winding streets, small piazzas and noble palazzi. Town guarded by steep cliffs, formidable defense walls and two main gates: Porta San Pietro on the east, built into a wall high above the Via Cassia, and Porta del Ponte (dell’Orologio) on the west, where it blends with the ancient Anguillara castle. Federico Fellini shot a small scene for his film La dolce vita just outside Castrovecchio beneath the Porta del Ponte. To the west of this gate stretches the Renaissance (1380–1600) section of Capranica; it is closed off from the newest section of the town, which lies outside the town walls, with the 17th century gate, Porta Sant’Antonio. Via Francigena, the great medieval pilgrimage route, which led from the English cathedral city of Canterbury through Switzerland and France to Rome, still runs alongside Capranica’s town walls and precipitous escarpments, just below them, and pilgrims still walk along it today.
Sutri is located about an hour from Castel Cellesi, about 63 km south. Plans to see it in 2021 just did not work out, so it on the list for 2022. The modern town has less than 5,000 people but the big sights are the ancient remains. They include a Roman amphitheater, Etruscan necropolis with rock-cut tombs, and the crypt of the church of the Modonna del Parto. It is described as a historic town with loads of ambiance. There are remains of the ancient city walls built of great rectangular blocks of stone, with gateways that permitted entry to the town. The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta has a lovely crypt with 20 different columns, giving it an air of mystery. All around town are ancient monuments and inscriptions, lots of architectural details and embellishments.
Soriano nel Cimino
A few miles from Viterbo, here Lazio, Umbria and Tuscany Regions meet. The massive Orsini castle stands above the houses of the old historic village. During the medieval era Pope Nicolas Orsini built the castle around the tower that had already served as a defensive lookout for centuries. The castle, a summer papal residence, provided great benefit with the presence and the patronage of the wealthy Popes and their friends. Then, over the centuries Soriano nel Cimino was passed, a prize, among popes and nobles. Narrow, meandering streets of the medieval core are surrounded by more classical, open street plans and palaces of the Renaissance era. Palazzo Chigi-Albani is a ordered Renaissance palace adorned with a decorative, sculpted fountain fed by spring water. It was built in the 1560s. The cathedral dedicated to St. Nicolas is topped by a wide dome. The little temple of St. George rests outside town and is a rustic stone chapel emblazoned with angels and Christian symbols.
About 45 km, 1 hour, from Castel Cellesi, on the other side of Lagao Bolsena, is the town of Valentano. Here the village is clustered in medieval fashion around the prominent castle and tower. The town hall was built in 1552 and bears porticoes, the first in town to have this Renaissance feature. The monumental gate Porta Magenta still stands in place.
Located 80 km south of Castel Cellesi, on the east side of Lago Bracciano, thee are the ruins of the Church of Saint Roch. There are various parts of the religious complex standing. The city was a very important Etruscian location. In the first half of the 17th Century the city of Monterano was at its height, Emilio Bonaventura Altiera, Pope Clemens X commissioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini to build many works for Monterano.
Ancient Monterano is west to the Bracciano Lake, about 2 km away from Canale Monterano and 7 km away from the Stigliano Baths. The ruins are on top of a tuff hill enclosed between to gorges formed by the Mignone river and the Bicione creek, between the Mounts of Tolfa and the Mounts Sabatini. Once at Canale Monterano you will only have to follow the signs to the Nature Reserve until getting to an open space where you can park your car. From here, you can only continue on foot along a 200 meter-long path.
This would be a day trip from Castel Cellesi, about 90 minutes. From what I read, we will know we are there when we reach the fountain and the remains of the roman acquaduct. The sights include some monuments covering a variety of historic periods: from Etruscan tombs at the feet of the hill to the big Roman aqueduct, passing through the Medieval Castle - which became afterwards the Baronial Palace - and, finally, to the great Cloister of San Bonaventura, from Renaissance times.
The fountain in front of the church is a replica of the original octagonal base fountain by Bernini. The original is in the Piazza del Compo in Canale Monterano.
It will all wrap up with a walk through the ruins of the Church of San Rocco, the Gradella Gate (one of the three gates in Monterano) and the Via Gradella, the cathedral bell tower, some bastions north to the village, the remains of the entrance of a tavern and some houses surrounding the palace.
All in all it could be a lot of walking. Advice noted is to start the visit right from the parking area of the Diosilla and to reach the ruins following first the red itinerary and then the narrow road that from the solfatara leads to the Monterano hill (3500 meters). If less walking is the idea, then focus the visit on the ruins, and go directly to the Monterano parking area and continue on foot for about 200 meters.
The ruins of Monterano can be reached following the Strada Antica Monterano that starts at the beginning of the town Canale Monterano and ends close to the archaeological site.
About 20 km from Castel Cellesi is this town where an old castle overlooks the small village. The medieval castle was built betwseen 774 and 776 by the Lombard King Desiderioi. Forticiations ets were added in the 13th Century. Many changes of ownership but the most recent was in 1970 it was coold to art painter Balthasar KIlossowski de Rola who lived there till his death, and the castle passed on to his son. The castle is privately owned but parts of it are the village include the the courtyared and the church.
Entering from the only door, accessible from a widening of the SP Grottana, popularly known as the Piazza , you cross a short gallery that leads to the churchyard of the parish church of Santa Maria. Proceeding to the left, you arrive at the courtyard of the castle, where you will find the entrance to the imposing building, a fountain and the small medieval village. The court also offers a view of the hill where the Macchie di Piantorena rise, on whose terminal spur once stood the Etruscan-Roman village of Torena.
A scenic stone down in Umbria, near Baschi