Un pittoresco vicolo di Orte in contrada San Biagio durante l’Ottava Medievale.
Affacciata sul Fiume Tevere, al confine con l’Umbria, Orte è una delle cittadine d’arte più importanti dell’Alto Lazio. Dopo decenni di abbandono, negli ultimi anni il centro storico ha favorito di numerosi restauri (tuttora in corso) che hanno “rispolverato” l’aspetto nobile di molti edifici e vie, valorizzando le architetture medievali e rinascimentali. Allo stesso tempo, però, l’anima elegante ed “aristocratica” di palazzi e case-torri convive con quella calda e “popolaresca” dei vicoli con i panni stesi popolati da gatti sornioni, degli intonaci sbrecciati con le edicole mariane e delle abitazioni in tufo ornate da gerani e surfinie. Tale commistione ne fa un luogo particolarmente pittoresco ed interessante per la fotografia, anche per la presenza di tanti dettagli come stemmi di antichi casati e portali di pregio; la limitazione o la chiusura al traffico di alcune strade inoltre permette finalmente al visitatore di passeggiare con sufficiente tranquillità “perdendosi” spesso in un ambiente suggestivo e apparentemente “fuori dal tempo”. Eppure, nonostante un tesoro come “Orte Underground” e l’oggettiva bellezza del centro storico (la cui qualità dell’ornato urbano è nel complesso assai elevata rispetto a certi paesi ben più celebrati del Viterbese – a cominciare da Caprarola, Sutri, Vignanello o Soriano…), Orte è snobbata dai più ed anzi sa risultare addirittura antipatica: sarà che è sempre stata considerata un posto di passaggio, sarà la vicinanza con l’Autostrada (che comunque incide sul paesaggio sicuramente di meno rispetto ai capannoni, ai viadotti, ai nuovi condomini nella piana sottostante e alla zona moderna), sarà che molti sentono poco “trendy” questa città così “a portata di mano”, sta di fatto che Orte non è apprezzata come merita. Con le foto che seguono vogliamo quindi farla conoscere meglio al pubblico italiano, tenendo conto che gli stranieri la stanno già riscoprendo da tempo… Si consiglia di andare a fare qualche scatto a fine agosto e a settembre, quando il centro storico viene addobbato dalle bandiere delle varie contrade per l’Ottava Medievale, uno degli eventi principali dell’anno.
Some images of Teverina Viterbese, along the way from Viterbo to Orvieto.
This itinerary moves through in the area known as “Teverina” (wetted by river Tiber – click here for the gallery) and it starts from Viterbo. It is the “capital” of Tuscia, the “City of the Popes”, where the word “Conclave” was born: the town is stunning because of its perfectly preserved medieval squares.
In few minutes, thanks to a comfortable highway, we can reac the little medieval town of Vitorchiano, The centre preserves 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 can find a Moai, the typical statue from the Easter Island.
From here we can follow two different paths: the first leads to Grotte Santo Stefano and the other one (shorter but not less 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 its Monsters’ Park (worth itself a trip) and many archaeological remains (the sites of Montecasoli and Santa Cecilia and the appreciable “Etruscan Pyramid”). Bomarzo is surrounded by misterious valleys that the tourists love to discover in spring and in late autumn to admire the wonderful colours of the woods and of the countryside.
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 notenter: 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 burgh – 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 – one of the most famous and discussed italian cinema directors who decided to spend the rest of his life in this small village: he bought the famous “tower”, now known as Pasolini’s tower. Pasolini was found – dead – on Ostia beach, near Rome and his death is still object of arguments and discussions.
The road to Chia has no exits: we must go back to the main road where we turn left. We 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 can visit Orte, an ancient etruscan town, with Renaissance palaces and medieval towers, rich of interest for the underground itinerary (“Orte sotterranea”).
Then 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.
From Grotte di Santo Stefano, a modern village, many archaeological and naturalistic hiking trails start (Ferento ruins, Infernaccio falls, The Ring Stone, Piantorena, etc.) in a very beautiful, almost wild, countryside.
Then the road leads to Montecalvello – a castle-hamlet completely uninhabited but still in perfect conditions, last dwelling of Balthus – and to Graffignano with its Baglioni-Santacroce castle (XIth century).
From Graffignano we drive back to the Teverina main road and turn 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 colourful 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).
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. The landscape remembers the tuscan countryside.
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 burgh 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”.
“Heart” of the Calanchi Valley, Civita of Bagnoregio is visited by many thousands of tourists from all over the world…
Once reached Lubriano (with its magnificent view of the Calanchi Valley) we continue to 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 next destination of this itinerary is Castiglione in Teverina, well known for its wines and offering superb sights of agricultural economy and of the Calanchi Valley.
Now we are near Orvieto, with its wonderful monuments, as like as Saint’s Patrick’s Well and the gothic Cathedral, and also with its good wines: so we can finish the itinerary tasting a glass of Orvieto docg wine…
Translation by Osvaldo Velo (http://flyfishingtuscia.com/) in collaboration with Luca Bellincioni and Arianna Federici.
Roccalvecce (VT) – “Castello Costaguti”
Il bellissimo panorama che si gode da Orte sulla verde Valle del Tevere e sulle prime colline umbre. La cittadina, nota quasi soltanto per essere un trafficato snodo ferroviario e una frequentata uscita autostradale, è in realtà un piccolo scrigno d’arte e storia che merita una visita attenta. Costituisce la porta d’accesso per viene da sud alla splendida sub-regione della Teverina Viterbese.