Rieti

Discovering Sabina

Lose yourself in the beauty of Sabina, a unique land full of surprises. From the Angeli route to Rieti’s subterranean areas. From Fara in Sabina to the millennial olive tree in Canneto.

In the city of Rieti the Angeli route starts from the Cathedral of Santa Maria, where the itinerary passes by Andrea Sacchi’s ‘Angelo Custode’ and the marble angels of the ‘Immacolata Concezione’ oval that dominates the altar of Santa Barbara, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, to the angels of Antonino Calcagnadoro, the decorative motif of the Crocifisso chapel.

Then it continues on to the 18th-century church of San Rufo, on the square of the same name, where a plaque indicates that right there is the centre of Italy. Here you can admire one of the most important paintings in Rieti, ‘Tobiolo e l’Angelo’, initially attributed to Caravaggio, but now credited to Antonio Galli, also known as Spadarino.

The walk continues on to Piazza Mazzini, where the war memorial is characterised by a harmonious angel and then on to the church of San Giovenale, where you can admire a work of Bertel Thorvaldsen, a Danish neoclassical sculptor who is considered one of the best students of Canova. The bas-relief depicts the ‘Genio della Morte’ (Angel of Death). Do not forget the Oratory of San Pietro Martire that contains a magnificent fresco depicting the Last Judgment painted by the brothers Lorenzo and Bartolomeo Torresani.

The subterranean route starts in Piazza Cavour at the statue of the Lira, unveiled on 1 March 2003 to commemorate the historic Italian currency, made with more than two million old 200 lira coins. From this square you continue on to Via Roma where, accompanied by a guide, you can enjoy a wonderful glimpse of Italy’s underground: the remains of the Roman viaduct built in the 3rd century BC as a result of the Roman conquest after the drainage of Lake Velinus.

This artefact, passing over the river Velino, allowed the Via Salaria, the ancient salt route, to reach the city and avoid flooding and swamping.
The walk winds through the structure, incorporated into the basements of some noble Rieti dwellings, formed by grandiose arches built with huge square blocks of caverno travertine to support of the road surface of the Salaria, and proceeds to the wonderful underground Palazzo Vecchiarelli, Rieti’s stone theatre where a helical ladder, based on a project by Bernini, allowed spectators to reach the upper floors. The route has been expanded to other areas that allow you to go on a fantastic walk through the medieval streets of the historic centre with its arches, vaults and stones rich in history before returning to the surface. A fascinating and surprising world, testimony to Rieti’s past, awaits the visitor: from Via del Porto, which in the past was home to the river port of the city of Rieti, considered the ‘fresh-water Venice’.

Leaving Via Salaria and continuing along Provincial Road 41 you can admire the millennial olive tree of Canneto: an extraordinary natural monument, 15 metres high and with a circumference of 7, it is among the oldest and largest plants in Europe.

Further on you reach Fara Sabina, a medieval village with an impressive view of Piazza del Duomo, where you can look down over the seven ancient hills of Rome. The Archaeological Museum houses the remains of the town of Cures and the necropolis of Eretum, along with an incredible object: the pink terracotta throne from a grave in Eretum. Next to it is the Museum of Silence, one of a kind, that does not offer a simple museum visit but projects you into the emotional experience by reliving the monastic life. The flavours and aromas of the past come from the late Renaissance bakery with bread still worked like in the past using natural yeast.

The town of Fara Sabina enraptures you with its perfectly paved roads, cleanliness, absence of traffic, its houses that have almost all been restored and an air of peace and tranquillity. The real surprise, however, is the stunning panoramic view from Piazza del Duomo, where, on a clear day, you can see the seven ancient hills of Rome, to admire, now as before, the most beautiful sunsets over the Eternal City. In the square there is the Archaeological Museum, which is peculiar in that the exhibits are from two different types of excavations: a village (Cures) and a necropolis (Eretum). The comparison between the two has allowed them to rebuild a portrait of Sabina’s society. From the depths of emotion comes an exciting and unique object: the pink terracotta throne that was discovered in 2006 in Eretum.

You will be further fascinated and amazed by the Museum of Silence, which has been set up in a new way to change the visitor experience. It has a ‘strong’ but decidedly abstract theme, that of ‘silence’, which marked the everyday life of the nuns and their every gesture. This led the creators (the architects Sveva Di Martino and Mao Benedetti) to design a museum itinerary that is innovative in its language and structure.

One of a kind, it offers not just a museum visit but it will give you an experience that will take you ‘away’ from your life and on to a dimension without units, time or space, making for unforgettable emotions.

The flavours of the past can be found in the lovingly-managed Ancient late-Renaissance Bakery, located on the ground floor of Monte Frumentario, which still produces bread in the same way as in the past and with the same ingredients starting from the natural yeast. The scent of freshly baked bread will guide you to it.

Further along Provincial Road 41, at the foot of the Mount Acuziano, surrounded by nature, there is the village of Farfa, characterized by low buildings with workshops on the ground floor. In the village there are craft products such as biscuits, ceramics and textiles, produced with an ancient 17th-century loom, as well as a herbalist shop with the best foods and cosmetics from the monasteries and abbeys of Italy and Europe.

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