A couple of hours from Rome, the Sabina and the Cicolano area protect tangible signs of the history of the Romans and their strong bond with the territory of the province of Rieti, crossed by the Velino River, in the unspoilt nature of the millennial forests and valley that bears the same name, birthplace of the archaeological sites.
The Ancient Romans were very creative in the construction of road systems to connect the Urbe (cities) to the Adriatic Sea, due to the interest in the provision of oil and food products. This road link was the “via del sale” (the Salt Road), the actual consular Via Salaria, a road that from the sea of Rome went up to the mountains, where food products were transported, and glorious armies marched on. The Salaria became one of most important roads of the Roman Empire to ensure the market would flourish towards East.
Going along the trace of the ancient Consulare, among the Giano, Nuria and Terminillo mountains, artefacts of Roman times can be seen, the so-called pietre miliari, big circular or rectangular columns that still give us information of that period: the distance from Rome, and the distance of the previous city and the following one.
Many marks of the Ancient Romans are still visible today, like the remains of Ponte del Diavolo (Bridge of the Devil) towards Rieti or the ruins of the ancient villas.
The years pass by, the beauty remains! Think that in 271 AD, the consul Manius Curius Dentatus started the works of a channel to make the waters of the Velino river flow directly into the Nera river, a tributary of the Tiber, through the water’s leap of many metres.
Around two hours from Rome, in the locality of Caporio di Cittaducale, an impressive archaeological complex is conserved, the Terme di Cotilia (Cotilia Spa) or Terme di Vespasiano (Vespasian Spa) (2nd century AD), where one can admire the square pool, once fed by the spring whose waters came from a waterfall from the Nymphaeum above. The healing powers of these waters were praised by Latin authors like Seneca, Pliny, Titus, Livy and Vergil. The spas are still open today.
At 180 km from Rome, at Castel Sant’Angelo, above the Paterno lake, there is an impressive monument: Villa di Tito. The functions of this magnificent monument are not very clear, maybe part of the pars urbana of an impressive rural villa, surely property of an important family, maybe of the Flavi themselves.