Lazio North of Rome Attractions
Numerous cities and towns of note are to be found to the north of Rome.
80km/50mi northeast of Rome is the provincial capital of Rieti (402m/1,327ft; pop. 44,000), situated on a fertile plateau, fringed by hills, on the right bank of the River Velino. Along the north side of the town stretch defensive walls and towers. In the central Piazza Vittorio Emanuele is the Palazzo Comunale with the Museo Civico. To the southwest stands the cathedral (completed 1458, almost completely altered in the 17th century), with a 13th century campanile. Inside, in the fourth chapel on the north side, is a statue of St Barbara by Bernini. From the Piazza del Duomo there are fine views. Behind the cathedral lies the Bishop's Palace, with the beautiful Loggia Papale (13th century).the town hosts the Festa del Sole every July.
From Rieti attractive trips can be made into the Monti Reatine, particularly to Terminillo (21km/13mi northeast: cableway, chair-lift, ski-lifts), a popular summer resort and winter sports center, much favored by the people of Rome (the "montagna di Roma"). From Monte Terminillo (2,216m/7,313ft), the highest peak in the Monti Reatini, there are panoramic views extending to the Gran Sasso and Maiella, and on clear days as far as the Adriatic and the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Civita Castellana, Italy
In northern Latium, situated at the west end of a tufa plateau surrounded by deep gorges, is the ancient town of Civita Castellana (145m/479ft; pop. 15,000), capital of the Faliscan territory lying between Etruria and Latium. In 241 B.C. the Faliscan town, known to the Romans as Falerii Veteres, was destroyed by Roman forces and the inhabitants transferred to a new settlement at Falerii Novi, from which they later returned. The noteworthy 12th century cathedral of Santa Maria has a beautiful porch of 1210 and some ancient columns in the crypt. In a commanding situation to the west of the town stands the Citadel, built by Pope Alexander VI in 1494-1500 to the design of Antonio da Sangallo the Elder; in the large arcaded courtyard are decorative paintings by the Zuccaro brothers (16th century). The Citadel houses the Archeological Museum of the Faliscan Territory.
6km/3.75mi west of Civita Castellana are the remains of Falerii Novi, founded in 240 B.C. to rehouse the inhabitants of the older town of Falerii Veteres, which has preserved its complete circuit of walls (2,108m/2,315yd long, with nine gates and 50 towers). Within the walls, near the Porta di Giove on the west side, the ruined abbey of Santa Maria di Falleri has ancient columns in the nave. Near the Porta del Bove, to the southeast are the remains of a theater, the forum and a swimming pool.
Lago di Bolsena
Another attractive place in northern Latium is the Lago di Bolsena (alt. 305m/1,007ft; area 114 sq.km/44 sq.mi; up to 151m/496ft deep), known to the Romans as Lacus Vulsiniensis. The lake occupies the crater of a collapsed Tertiary volcano. In the southern half of the lake are two little rocky islets, Bisentina (361m/1,191ft) and Martana (377m/1,244ft). On the island of Martana the Gothic queen Amalasuntha, only daughter of Theodoric the Great, was strangled in her bath in the year 535 on the orders of her co-Regent Theodahad.
At the northeast corner of the Lago di Bolsena the picturesquely situated little town of Bolsena (348m/1,148ft; pop. 4,000) lies below the site of Etruscan Volsinium, political center of the league of twelve Etruscan cities (remains of a wall of dressed stone), and the Roman Volsinium Novum, built in 263 B.C. An ancient road paved with basalt blocks leads up (30 minutes) to the scanty remains.Features of interest in Bolsena itself are the 13th century Castello and the church of Santa Cristina (13th century) to the south of the town. The church has a fine Renaissance facade (c. 1500) with two terracotta reliefs by Andrea della Robbia above the doors. In the interior is the Grotta di Santa Cristiana, with the saint's tomb, and, under the high altar, the stone with which she was drowned in the year 278. The altar is known as the Altare del Miracolo, following the "miracle of Bolsena" in 1263, when a Bohemian priest who had doubted the doctrine of transubstantiation (i.e. the transformation of bread into the body and blood of Christ in the mass) was convinced of his error by the appearance of drops of blood on the consecrated Host. To commemorate the event Pope Urban IV made the feast of Corpus Christi (which had recently been initiated in Belgium) a universal festival of the Church (1264) and caused the splendid cathedral of Orvieto to be built.
Southeast of Bolsena, on a subsidiary crater just inland from the lake, is Montefiascone (590m/1,947ft; pop. 12,000). The cathedral of Santa Margherita (by Sanmicheli, 1519) has an octagonal dome. From the gardens around the castle above the town there are extensive views. To the northeast, below the town on the Orvieto road, is the double church of San Flaviano (12th century), with 14th century frescoes.
Lago di Bracciano
Also in northern Latium is the beautiful Lago di Bracciano (alt. 279m/921ft; area 57.5 sq.km/22 sq.mi; up to 165m/541ft deep, the ancient Lacus Sabatinus, which, like Lake Bolsena, was created by the explosion and subsequent collapse of a volcanic cone.
Above the Lago di Bracciano to the southwest is the little town of Bracciano (279m/921ft; pop. 11,000), with the massive five-towered Castello Orsini-Odescalchi (built 1470, in the possession of the princely Odescalchi family since 1696), a fine example of a fortified medieval castle. Notable interior and pillared courtyard; from the wall-walk there are magnificent views of the lake.
Lazio North of Rome Pictures View All