Bellegra’s origins date back to the 6th century BC, when, on the summit of Monte Celeste, the site of the current town, the Aequi, then the Hernici and finally the Romans built settlements.
Evidence of its past can be found all over the area, starting with the remains of the temple of the goddess Bona, characterized by impressive Cyclopean walls which border the town at various points.
About 2 km from the village, at 815 metres above sea level, the Sacred Retreat or Convent of San Francesco di Bellegra is set in a dense chestnut forest called “Capelmo-Antera”.
The Convent’s origin is connected to the visit made by Saint Francis of Assisi to the sacred cave, the Sacro Speco of Subiaco.
According to an ancient version, in distant 1223, Friar Francis, on his way to the Monastery of San Benedetto a Subiaco, stopped to rest in the original small structure and was struck by the place’s evocative setting and the greenery of chestnut and beech trees in the Simbruini countryside.
About 4 km east of the town of Bellegra are the caves, “Grotte dell’Arco“, a karst cavern almost 1000 metres in length and in some points up to 30 metres high, comfortably accessible to tourists.
This highly evocative natural cave has numerous stalactites, stalagmites, and potholes and contains remains of fauna from the Middle and Upper Paleolithic with traces of the Mesolithic stone industry, as well as anthropomorphic and zoomorphic paintings.
They are called “the Grotte dell’Arco” because about thirty metres downstream from the entrance is a natural stone arch.
At the table, tacchie in the ancient Bellegra recipe is pasta, handmade with water, flour and eggs. It is expertly “piled up”, cut by hand in the typical irregular rectangle shape and seasoned with local meat sauces or mushrooms, which the area has in abundance.
A festival is dedicated to the “tacchie” in the first weekend of October.