Take a Hike
Visit the “small” Petra in Norchia
Open pastures, fairytale forests and rock tombs reminiscent of Jordan, Norchia is the “small Petra” of Lazio, and one of Lazio’s lesser known sites thanks to poor map details and overgrowth. Norchia was an inland settlement of the powerful Etruscan city of Tarquinia, which dominated the coast of northern Lazio during the 4th-century CE, which imploded with history.
In the 1840s George Dennis, father of the Etruscan archaeology, while hiking the wild terrain, discovered a wonderful amphitheatre of Etruscan tombs and necropoli. Today’s lanscape is pretty much the same beautiful wilderness in a pleasant half day of trekking. Bring water and GPS because finding Norchia can be a bit of challenge – the only indication is an old yellow sign used for target practice by local hunters.
Where: Located about 6 km north of the Vetralla-Tarquinia road (route 1 bis), 9 km west of Vetralla. Province: Viterbo.
Discover the Etruscan Pyramid in Bomarzo
The wondrous Park of Monsters of Bomarzo is a secret known to all, but few know that hidden nearby the Bosco Sacro is an Etruscan Pyramid. This 2700-year-old monument is technically not a pyramid but more like a rock that is inversely triangulated on just one side, carved with quasi-right angles and a series of steps leading to altar.
Called Sasso del Predicatore (“Stone of the Preacher”) or “Stone With Steps”, this mysterious megalith measures about 53 feet long, 24 feet at its widest point, and 30 feet tall of is grey volcanic tuff (also known as “peperino”) and has the odd vibe of a Mayan pyramid. Maybe it was a sacrificial altar? Conspiracy theories start now!
How to get there: Trails start from the sports field of Bomarzo, but best to rely on detailed directions found online and using GPS. Province: Viterbo.
Walk the Ancient Via Amerina
Have you ever heard of Via Amerina? Built in the 4th century B.C, Via Amerina is an ancient Roman road and one of the epic locations of the Agro Falisco, northern Lazio between Rome and Tuscia. An expansive pavement of amorphic basalt stone, Via Amerina stretches all the way to Amelia, literally symbolizing the Empire’s expansionism goals – the vast networks of roads crisscrossing across Ancient Rome and leading to the old saying “all roads lead to . . .”.
This gorgeous nature hike includes stops for tombs and necropolis that will make step you back in time.
Where: Park your car near Ristorante Tiresia in Castel Sant’Elia. From the parking lot, access to the Via Amerina (towards the Cavo degli Zucchi) is approximate 500 meters forward in the direction of Nepi. Province: Viterbo.
Celleno, a ghost town in Tuscia
Lazio is famous for its abandoned cities, like the gem Civita di Bagnoregio, but if you are looking for something far less touristic, it’s time to explore the ghost town of Celleno. You will love the impressive remains of the Orsini Castel (1026), the XVII-century church of San Carlo and the XIII-century church of San Donato.
Celleno is easy and fun to explore. Enter the quiet square, visit the ancient workshops of artisans, say hello to the funny donkey named Gina and take a pleasant walk in the large pastures that descend to the valley. Province: Viterbo
The lost city of Galleria Antica
One of the most incredible natural monuments in Italy is the “lost city” of Galeria Antica. A kind of Angor Wat of Ancient Rome era, Galeria Antica is a city “lost” in a thick forest of holms and maples in n the Agro Romano north of the Capital of Rome. Built up and abandoned several times in its nearly three thousand year history, the ruins of Galeria Antica are perched on a tufa spur bounded to the west by the Arrone river making for a gorgeous walk in the wilderness where you can explore rock labyrinths, deep caves and esoteric symbols. After several invasions, Galeria was completely abandoned in the year 1809 and its few and desperate inhabitants moved away to found the city of Santa Maria di Galeria Nuova. Now, Galeria Antica is a protected natural area of Lazio.
Getting there: You’ll definitely need a GPS and directions. Location pin to Santa Maria di Galeria Nuova where you will park the car and and walk along Via di Santa Maria di Galeria until you reach a dirt road beyond a gate (on your right). Follow for 800 meters to a forest. Eventually you’ll stumble into the ruins. Province: Rome.
The abandoned village of Monterano Antico
Cinematic is the best word to describe Monterano Antico, an abandoned town on a Lazio hill that has been backdrop for Cinecitta productions like Ben Our and Il Marchese del Grillo. The Roman city of Manturanum reinvented itself in the Middle Ages only to be abandoned. What’s left are the remnants of a castle, parts of a Roman aqueduct and a giant 200-year-old fig tree, the “genius loci” (the protective spirit) of this magic place.
With its wild countryside and sulfur springs, the “Zolfatara”, Monterano Antica makes an enchanting day trip from Rome. Cross the town of Canale Monterano to park your car at the main entrance of the Regional Natural Reserve, where there is the beautiful waterfall of Diosilla, from where begins a picturesque nature trail that leads you to the deserted village of Monterano Antica. Province: Rome.
Bunker Soratte, the mountain escape
The Soratte Natural Reserve, about an hour drive north Rome, can be considered the “green lung” of Sabina, in other words, a Roman retreat for a breath of fresh air. The Mount Soratte, which rises solitary and majestic in the Tiber Valley, is full of hiking trails of varying difficulty and mountain bike trails.
According to lore, pagans worshipped the god Soranus and the wolf-priests of Soranus, walking around barefoot on embers in annual rituals. We suggest hiking boots and pick any o f the nature hikes like the Percorso Madonna delle Grazie. And then descend below the surface of the earth to discover the scenic Bunker Soratte of Sant’Oreste, from Fascism hide out to cold war escape. Province: Rome.
The hidden sanctuary of the Madonna delle Cese
The karstic territory of Collepardo is a natural wonder known only by the locals and all the climbing lovers, who can find magnificent cliffs and caves. This place is also famous for the presence of one of the most important religious monuments of Lazio, the Certosa Trisulti, a monastery dating back to the beginning of the 13th century. A few minutes hike from here you can find the hidden Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Cese, a small hermitage hidden in a cave. Province: Frosinone.
Mediation at San Salvatore
For an afternoon of meditation and an incredible view, Lake Murano, at the base of Mount Navegna and Mount Cervia Reserve is our spot. Especially when we add in a well-paced walk to the San Salvatore, a tiny hermitage located on the slope of Mount Antuni. Located in a natural cavity known as Grotta del S.S Salvatore, the hermitage dates back to the 17th century. Go and discover the hermit’s house, and then continue to the charming Borgo of Antuni. Province: Rieti.
On the Temple of Giove Anxur
There is something about Terracina, but don’t think it’s just another Lazio coastal town built by Mussolini. Look up. On the hillside is ancient Terracina, where the Via Appia Antica traverses, and perched just above is the Temple of Giove Anxur, dedicated to Jupiter, god protector of the city. High on the hill and overlooking the coast, the ancient Roman temple was ritual site and outpost. Though the sanctuary was destroyed with the fall of the Roman Empire, in the early Middle Ages, a monastery was built, only to be abandoned in the centuries to follow.
Today, the remains of Temple of Giove Anxur are worth a visit for their historical value and for the incredible views of the Pianura Pontina, Circeo and Tyrrhenian sea. To reach the temple, head to the historic center and then follow the directions up the hill. Province: Latina.
April 25, 2022