In Ciociaria, nature and culinary traditions of the Comino Valley

The lovely Comino Valley is a natural verdant environment dotted with small towns and ancient castles.

In this corner of the Ciociaria, spring is a kaleidoscope of colours and scents that enhance the beauty of its picturesque locations.

Folk customs continue to be deeply felt here. They represent a reason for people to gather and celebrate time-honoured culinary traditions.

Our two-day journey through the Comino Valley begins at Atina. An interesting site here is a baronial castle, situated on the main square of the town’s historical centre.

After a short visit we can make our way to Picinisco, home of the Pecorino DOP. A typical product of the Lazio region, this cheese is produced here in small family-run factories.

A popular holiday destination especially in summer, Picinisco is also home to an adventure park equipped with picnic areas.

Our next stop is at the nearby town of Settefrati to visit the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Canneto, situated at about 1,000 metres above sea level in a lush narrow valley on an artificial lake.

This beautiful valley is crossed by many hiking trails that can be taken to reach the main peaks of the Mainarde Mountains in the Abruzzo Lazio and Molise National Park.

Giovanni Paolo II

An easy trail runs through the forest and leads to the John Paul II Cascade. In 1985 the Pope came here incognito and spent three days taking long walks and meditating, often stopping to pray near the cascade.
Our journey now continues to our next destination: Borgo di San Donato. Worthy of a visit here is the Museum of Rural Traditions, which displays an interesting collection of local farming tools.

A stroll up step pathways and under ancient arches will allow us to explore the town and enjoy spectacular views over the valley below before making our way to one of the many nearby holiday farms to savour local culinary delights.

The handmade fettuccini made with the Orapi, a sort of spinach that grows on the mountains, is a truly exquisite local dish.

The second day of our trip through the Comino Valley takes us to Alvito to visit the 17th-century Ducal Palace, today the town hall, and the ancient castle that stands on the summit of the town.

Breakfast with a slice of jam-filled tart or a ring-shaped sponge cake, strictly-homemade, and a hot cappuccino served outdoors will be a great way to start our day.

It may be surprising to see numerous cyclists and bikers but the Comino Valley is actually a preferential thoroughfare for many tourist destinations and is crossed by several cycling routes that lead into the nearby Abruzzo region.

The valley also attracts paragliders and hang-gliders, who have at their disposal a convenient take-off area located along the provincial road leading to Forca d’Acero. It is quite a spectacle to watch their flights and their landing in the valley.

Lago di Posta Fibreno

Our last stop is at Lake Posta Fibreno, a natural area with crystal-clear water.
There are many pathways running along the banks of this lake, but the Cantannovo, which leads to the floating island, is certainly one of the most interesting.
The little island is actually made of cane reed which has accumulated over time and on which plants naturally grow. It is moved on the surface of the lake by the wind.
If you love nature photography, the lake offers many opportunities to take pictures of birds, especially during the migration period, when little egrets, herons and wild ducks are the lake’s special guests.

Families with children may decide to conclude this short trip to the Comino Valley with a ride on a comfortable paddle boat on this lovely lake.

If you are not too tired and are good walkers, you can always opt for a hike along the nearby Via Francigena del Sud or the Cammino di San Benedetto, two ancient pilgrims road.

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