On foot or by bike, in summer or winter, the colours of the Cimini Mountains will enchant you. On their slopes is the village of Canepina, the “City of the Chestnut” set in a fairy-tale forest full of this precious fruit.
Legend has it that Luigi Pirandello spoke of Dante Alighieri going through Canepina’s woods, the Selva Luce, the source of inspiration for the description of the Dark Forest in the First Canto of the Divine Comedy.
Archaeological artefacts place the beginnings of this village in the Etruscan era. Located about 70 km from Rome and fewer than 15 from Viterbo, in the Middle Ages it belonged to the powerful family of the prefects of Di Vico.
Canepina owes its name to the flourishing medieval hemp cultivations, thanks to abundant water, the same that now flows from the village’s beautiful fountains: Sorgente Fontanella, Fonatana di Via Umberto and the Fontanile di Cavonelli, the green area a few kilometres from the village, surrounded by ancient chestnut trees and accessible by mountain bike.
Worth visiting are the majestic Anguillara Castle, the 16th-century Palazzo Farnese, the medieval Collegiate Church Santa Maria Assunta, the Church of San Michele Arcangelo and the Church of the Madonna del Carmine with 15th-century paintings and frescoes. The Museum of Popular Traditions is also interesting, as is the 13th-century Church of Santa Corona, in honour of the Patron Saint celebrated on May 14th.
While the queen of the table is the chestnut, or marrone, in all its forms, cream of marroni, jarred marroni, chestnut flour, liqueur and pasta with chestnuts, the Canepina court never lacks extra Tuscia DOP extra virgin olive oil and hazelnuts, or local tozzetti and doughnuts. Characteristic dishes include Maccaroni or Fieno di Canepina, with their own festival in June, and Ciciliani, pasta worked with an iron tool, paired with excellent IGT Colli Cimini wines.
Not to be missed in October is the much-loved wheelbarrow race at the Chestnut Festival in honour of Sant’Antonio Abate on January 17. On June 5, the 115 Canepina citizens who lost their lives in the American bombings of 1944 are remembered.