Subiaco, Italy Tourist Attractions
SituationThe little town of Subiaco, 70km/43mi east of Rome, is situated on a hill above the Aniene valley, dominated by an 11th century castle.History and importanceThe Roman Sublaquem grew up on the site of a large villa belonging to Nero, who narrowly escaped being struck by lightning while dining here. The main features of interest in the town, which still preserves its medieval aspect, are the famous Benedictine monasteries.
Monastery of Santa Scolastica
2km/1.25 mi southeast of the town center of Subiaco on the road to Ienne, situated above the River Aniene, is the large monastery of Santa Scolastica, with a fine campanile from 1052, founded by St Benedict about 510 and later named after his sister. In 1052 a second monastery was built here, and later rebuilt in Gothic style and in 1235 a third, with a Romanesque cloister with mosaic decoration. The present buildings are modern. The church of Santa Scolastica, founded in 975, was completely remodeled in the 18th century. In 1464 two German printers, Arnold Pannartz and Konrad Schweinheim, stayed in the monastery and produced what are probably the earliest Italian printed books.
Monastery of San Benedetto
1.5km/1mi east of the monastery of Santa Scolastica, is the monastery of San Benedetto or Sacro Speco (640m/2,112ft), built against a sheer cliff in a magnificent lonely mountain setting. Both the upper and the lower church are decorated with frescoes. The lower church has 13th century frescoes in Roman style while the frescoes of the upper church dating from the 14th-15th centuries are in Sienese and Umbrian style. The chapel adjoining the upper church contains a unique early picture of St Francis, who, according to legend, while he was staying in the monastery about 1223 transformed the thorns grown by St Benedict into the roses which still flourish in the monastery garden. In the cave in which St Benedict lived as a hermit until he moved to Montecassino in 529 is a statue of the saint by a pupil of Bernini.
Vallepietra and Ienne
The road continues down the Aniene valley beyond the monastery of San Benedetto (9km/5.5mi) to the beautifully situated little town of Ienne (834m/2,752ft). 12km/7mi from here along the Simbrivio valley lies the village of Vallepietra (825m/2,723ft), in a cirque on the southeast side of Monte Autore.
From Vallepietra it is a climb of 1.5-2 hours to the Santuario della Santissima Trinità (12th century frescoes; festival on Sunday after Whitsun), situated at an altitude of 1,337m/4,412ft below a vertical rock face 300m/990ft high. From here it is another 2.5-3 hours' climb (with guide) to the summit of Monte Autore (1,853m/6,115ft), the second highest peak in the wooded Monte Simbruini (2,156m/7,115ft); magnificent panoramic views from the top.