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This itinerary moves through in the area known as “Teverina=wetted by river Tiber) and starts from the IVth century small town of San Martino al Cimino with a magnificent view on a double row of houses placed around the main square and dominated by an imposing Cistercian gothic abbey (Doria Pamphili).
Leaving S. Martino, the next destination is Vitorchiano which is reached crossing the Cimini Mountain and reaching another interesting small village: Soriano nel Cimino – considered as the “Pearl of the Cimini” thanks to its fine and healthy air and temperature (mild in winter, fresh in summer) – with its Castle (known as Castello Orsini). In 1848 Soriano passed under the property of the Vatican: the castle was abandoned by the nobility and was transformed into the first papal prison. In 1871 it passed under the Italian State and continued to serve as a prison until 1989, when it was definitely closed and restructured and used for exhibitions and events.
Vitorchiano, is on the way to Viterbo and can be easily reached from Soriano in few minutes thanks to a comfortable highway. In the centre of the small village, there are all the 1200s architectural elements of Viterbo’s S. Pellegrino and Piano Scarano hamlets and gives wonderful sights of the medieval life.
From Vitorchiano on the way to Grotte Santo Stefano (on the Belvedere square) the tourist finds a Moai, the typical statue from the Easter Island.
From this point the itinerary is split into two different paths: the former leads to Grotte Santo Stefano and will be dealt with later on while the latter (shorter but more intense) takes us to the highway Viterbo-Orte, direction Orte.
We leave the highway at the exit to Bomarzo which we reach and cross (whose ancient and medieval hamlet appears – inviting and intriguing – on the left). Bomarzo – really worth a short visit – is well known and famous thanks to the presence of the Monsters’ Park (worth itself a trip) and many archaeological remains (the sites of Montecasoli and Santa Cecilia and the noticeable and interesting “Etruscan Pyramid”).
Following the road down a steep hill we reach the Tiber Valley and we cannot help noticing the lovely and fascinating hamlet of Mugnano in Teverina emerging with its tower on the top of a tufa hill and surrounded by green and peaceful lawns.
Once visited this graceful hamlet, we go back to Bomarzo and to the highway which we do not enter: at the crossing, we turn to left and drive for a few kilometres until we meet the post “Chia” on the left. It is a very small and ancient hamlet – pertaining to the municipality of Soriano nel Cimino – half of which in remains and under restoration. Chia is famous for being on the banks of Fosso Castello (Castello Stream) where some of the scenes of “Il Vangelo secondo Matteo” have been shot in 1964. “Il Vangelo” is one of the masterpieces of Pier Paolo Pasolini – famous and discussed Italian cinema directors who decided to spend the rest of his life in this small village and bought the famous “tower”, now known as Pasolini’s tower. Pasolini was found – dead – on Ostia beach, not far from Rome and his death is still object of arguments and discussions.
The road to Chia has no exits and we are obliged to go back to the main road where we turn to left and reach Bassano in Teverina, a very small and scarcely inhabited village which has been completely restored during the past decades because heavily damaged by an explosion of a train containing ammunitions during the Second World War.
Once visited Bassano, we go back to Vitorchiano (via the highway to Viterbo) and continue our trip toward Grotte Santo Stefano. This area – known as “Teverina” because it develops on the banks of the Tiber – is dotted with ancient castles, fortresses and extensions of olive trees and vineyards producing excellent wine and oil.
Once reached and left Grotte Santo Stefano, the road leads to Montecalvello – a castle-hamlet completely uninhabited but still in perfect conditions – and to Graffignano with its Baglioni-Santacroce castle (XIth century).
We drive back to the Teverina main road and turn to left – aiming to the North – and after some kilometres we find the ancient hamlet of Roccalvecce – under the municipality of Viterbo – with its magnificent Costaguti Palace-Castle. The castle, the perfect place for weddings and social occasions, is also a good and appreciated solutions for holidays immersed in a silent and peaceful nature.
In front of Roccalvecce – on the other side of the valley – there is a wonderful sight of Celleno Vecchio, an abandoned and a “ghost” village now being recovered and re-inhabited. The area of Celleno is famous for the cultivation of cherries and houses one of the most interesting Sagre (Festivals) in April when the colorful branches make the village a real explosion of whites and pinks.
Castel Cellesi (a sort of colorful village-farm) is within easy reach and really worth a visit thanks to the nice area and the tall bell-tower (similar to those present in the North of Italy) and a little further we meet San Michele in Teverina, surrounded by peaceful sights and with the palace connected to the rest of the hamlet via a nice bridge.
We are not far from Civitella d’Agliano. This is the area of wine and wheat thanks to the immense fields surrounded by woods of oaks, cypresses and pines trees.
Civitella d’Agliano is not the “usual” hamlet like all the other small villages we have met so far. It is a real Commune with its Mayor in spite of the fact that the inhabitants are no more than 1000 in total.
The village is all gathered around a steep tufa block and grants a bird’s eye view on the Tiber Valley, the Calanchi of Bagnoregio and the mountains of Umbria.
Vaiano is a far and away hamlet surrounded by “Calanchi” (starting point for most of the adventurous trekking paths) not far from Bagnoregio and its hamlet Civita, worldwide famous as “the dying town”.
Once reached Lubriano (with its magnificent view of the Calanchi Valley) we reach Sermugnano, near the border of the province of Viterbo and Orvieto.
Sermugnano is one of the many small villages with very few inhabitants (less than 100) and still in good conditions, immersed in the silence of nature, far from noise and confusion.
The last destination of this itinerary is Castiglione in Teverina, well known for its wines and offering superb sights of agricultural economy and of the Valle dei Calanchi.