Sunday, December 10, 2017

camminando | Out of Rome: Calcata, Nepi, Sutri

Yesterday meanderings were in Etruscan territory. The first destination was Calcata, a medieval village nestled into a "tufo" (limestone) mountain in Valle del Treja. Of particular interest is the old Calcata, which I have been told accounts of only forty residents: private spaces of homes are enmeshed with public places of narrow paths and steep steps.
    Settlement goes back to prehistoric times The village was evacuated in the 1930s, due to the fear of building collapsing; in the 1960s hippies and artists started squatting and then buying the abandoned village houses. Streets and houses were restored and Calcata became home to a small but thriving community of environmental conscious "creatives": artists, musicians, designers brought the village to revitalization and small cafes and restaurant opened, offering local food in an enchanting atmosphere. 
   I experienced Calcata's magic over thirty years ago, before moving accross the Atlantic. Returning to the charming village brought back memories, and I still felt the great energy yet peacefulness emanating from the medieval walls, which open to magnificent vistas of Valle del Treja.

Church Santissimo Nome di Gesù (XIV century)

Museo dell'Agricoltura

Calcata Nuova

17 kilometers of SP17 take to the walled town of Nepi, anciently known as Nepete. The name comes from the Etruscan word "nepa" meaning water: the springs provide "Acqua di Nepi" which is still source of a flourishing industry. Nepi began in the Bronze age, with settlements dating to the VIII century B.C. 
    Nepi is characterized by stunning monuments and sites. The most remarkable site is Rocca di Nepi (or Castello Borgia) was first erected in the XIII century as a walled fort, then restored in the late XV century by Pope Sisto IV. Palazzo Comunale, featuring a clocktower was started by Antonio da Sangallo in 1542 and completed by Michele Locatelli in 1744. The Acquedotto was completed in 1727 and combines hydraulic engineering with outstanding architectural features.
Rocca di Nepi  (Castello Borgia), XV century
Acquedotto (1727)
Palazzo Comunale
The day ends with a visit to Sutri, located on the via Francigena, the ancient pilgrimage route starting in Canterbury and ending in Rome. It is the 77th of the 80 stages., also nested on a "tufo" (limestone) rock formation. Tufo defines the major sites, including the excavated tombs of the Etruscan necropolis and the Roman amphitheater (II-I century B.C.).
    Layers of history are also manifested in the architecture. Torre dell'Orologio in Piazza del Comune is erected on a Roman arch. In the courtyard of Palazzo Comunale (1593), among several antiquities, a Roman sarcophagus is utilized as fountain.
Roman Amphitheater
Palazzo Comunale
Torre Dell'Orologio