Travelling from Rieti along the ancient Via Salaria towards Ascoli – L’Aquila, we find the Cittaducale area. The entire plain is crossed by the Rivers Velino and Peschiera and at one point you will find yourself in front of the Vespasian Baths that bear the name of the emperor who spent his holidays in this area. It is no coincidence that the baths were built right here! The benefits of the sulphur springs present in the area and their therapeutic qualities have been much appreciated since ancient times. The imposing building complex from Roman times reached its notoriety when Vespasian and then his son Titus began to use the water from the springs for therapeutic purposes.
Following a road with dry stone walls and we find before us a truly monumental work: the bath system. The area has terraces and the one that has maintained a better state of preservation contains a great pool which can be reached by the stairs located on the sides. At the top left there is a nymphaeum whose spring was used to supply the poo. Along the sides there are a series of hallways, rooms and niches, some of which are rectangular and others semicircular.
A stone’s throw from here, is the Lake of Paterno, known as ‘Lacus Aquae Cutiliae’, where the emperor Flavius Vespasian and his son Titus went on summer vacation as suggested by the remains of the large rustic villa near Paterno. On the lake, considered sacred, there was a floating island in which there was a sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Vacuna, a deity venerated by the ancient people of Sabina and then by the Romans. She was the protector of the springs, considered miraculous, that fed the lake known for the beneficial properties of its waters, which began to be exploited for thermal use during the imperial period. Lake Paterno retains its magical atmosphere, thanks also to the view that it has, on the side of the Salaria, over the wooded hill on which stands the eponymous village of Paterno.