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Latium – The Magnificence of Rome and Its Region

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Fori Romani - Rome - Latium - Tourist Guide - The Good Gourmet

Latium is strictly linked to the city of Rome, region capital and Italy’s capital city. However it can offer much more: art cities, archaeological areas, fascinating medieval towns, mountains, woods, charming beaches, and the beautiful Tyrrhenian coast.

Latium boasts five UNESCO heritage sites: the historic center of Rome and all the Vatican City properties within the city, the Tivoli’s villas: Villa d’Este and Villa Adriana, the Etruscan necropolis of Banditaccia in Cerveteri and the Etruscan necropolis of Monterozzi in Tarquinia, an intangible UNESCO heritage: “la macchina di Santa Rosa” of Viterbo, and a natural UNESCO heritage site: the Cimini Mountains’ secular beech forest.

History

The history of Latium starts with the ancient populations of the Sabines, the Latin (some say that the word “Latium” comes from the word “Latin”) and above all the Etruscan, a sophisticated civilization that influenced in a significant way the early Romans.

Since the eighth century AD up to the eighteenth century, the history of the region coincides with the development of Rome. The Roman civilization achieved the highest level in all the arts and sciences. Roman people founded cities, built communication streets and realized some of the most famous monuments in the world even now. After the crisis and the end of its empire, Rome became the capital of the Christianity. In the meantime, the whole Latium region represented the center of the “Stato della Chiesa”,  which occupied most of the middle of Italy. During the Middle Age, Latium landscape was enriched with many castles and picturesque small villages perched on top of hills. Some of them can still be admired today.

During Renaissance and Baroque age, Rome was the place of residence for some of the most important artists in the world. They have created immortal masterpieces such as Cappella Sistina, San Peter’s dome, parks and gardens in many city of the region, of which you can still admire Villa d’Este in Tivoli, Farnese Palace at Caprarola or the Park of the Monsters at Bomarzo.

In the nineteenth century Rome became Italy’s capital city and later, between the two world wars, was elected capital of the fascist empire. During the fascist period Mussolini built some important cities of the region, as Latina (born with the name of Littoria) or Sabaudia. Currently Latium is one of the most visited regions in Italy, because of its artistic and natural beauties spread around the territory.

Rome

Rome’s district history is strongly linked to the birth and development of Rome. In addition to being the capital of Italy, its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with the archaeological remains of the Forums and the Colosseum, one of the most visited monuments in the world. With over 25,000 places of interest, Rome is the city with the most monuments in the world.

With a lot of churches full of masterpieces by Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bernini, Rome is the capital of Christianity and hosts a small sovereign state: the Vatican City with St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Paul’s Basilica, and the Vatican Museums with the Sistine Chapel, also an UNESCO cultural heritage.

Latium is much more than Rome: the ancient city of Tivoli that houses Emperor’s Hadrian villa and the stunning renaissance Villa d’Este with its gardens and fountains, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Etruscan necropolis of Banditaccia in Cerveteri is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Castelli Romani that host the villas of the great Roman aristocratic families such as Villa Aldobrandini in Frascati or Palazzo Chigi in Ariccia. Subiaco with its extraordinary Benedictine monasteries, pearls of medieval art and the Orsini Castle on the suggestive Bracciano lake.

Viterbo

Viterbo’s district is known as Tuscia, the medieval name that indicated the lands inhabited by the Etruscans. The area runs alongside the ancient Via Francigena, the medieval road that connected Rome to Canterbury. The place has many archaeological remains linked to the Etruscan world. The Monterozzi necropolis in Tarquinia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The county is full of beautiful towns such as the district capital Viterbo itself, a medieval jewel and ancient papal residence with its wonderful Palazzo dei Papi. The city is also famous for Santa Rosa’s day. The “macchina di Santa Rosa” a processional structure that parades through its streets is an intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO.

There are amazing villages perched on plateaus such as Bagnoregio and Calcata; magnificent renaissance villas such as Villa Lante, the suggestive Park of the Monsters of Bomarzo, and the amazing Palazzo Farnese in Caprarola.

Finally, there are many natural beauties such as the Lake of Bolsena and the centuries-old beech forest of the Cimini Mountains which is a UNESCO natural heritage site.

Frosinone

Frosinone’s district, known as Ciociaria, named in this way due to the characteristics footwear worn in the past by the shepherds in that area. Ciociaria is a place abundant in art and in archeological sites spread around beautiful ancient towns.

We can mention Anagni directly founded by the Saturno god, following a legend. Anagni’s fame is linked to the episode of “schiaffo” (slap) when Sciarra Colonna hit Pope Bonifacio VIII. It is a real jewel of Middle Age art showing the Pope’s Palace and the roman-syle Santa Maria Cathedral.

Other impressive places are the Monte Cassino Benedectine Abbey and the towns of Alatri and Ferentino rich in archaeological evidence such as the Megalithic Walls and their necropolis. Finally, we find Fiuggi, famous for its baths and the liberty style of its buildings.

Latina

Latina’s district is famous for the sea. The coastal area covers about 100 km and hosts some of the most beautiful beaches in the whole region. Sabaudia, Terracina, Sperlonga, Gaeta are the most famous seaside towns. The Circeo’s cape is a very suggestive site and it is the seat of Circeo National Park, an impressive, very extensive green area. Other wonderful gardens in the district are those of Ninfa and Sermoneta where it is possible to admire an exceptional variety of plants and flowers coming from all over the world. Furthermore, we have to remember the “Giove Anxur” temple in Terracina, a fascinating archeological site peak on the sea.

Rieti

Rieti’s district is a territory mostly mountainous, having the highest peak of the region: Gorzano mountain (more than 2450 m). The paths scattered on the Sabini, Reatini, and Laga chains of mountains are suitable for excursions and trekking, through lakes and natural parks. Due to its mountainous area, Rieti’s district hosts the most important ski stations in Latium, as Leonessa, Cittareale, and Terminillo mountain, the most important.

Furthermore, Rieti’s district is very famous for its typical dishes as the “amatriciana” pasta: bucatini (a kind of long pasta quite similar to spaghetti) flavored with tomato and guanciale (a sort of bacon) produced in the city of Amatrice.

Gastronomy

Latium also has many local products: the wine that is produced throughout the region with six D.O.C. (Controlled Designation of Origin) and three D.O.C.G. (Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin) denominations: the Frascati Superiore, the Cannellino di Frascati and the Cesanese del Piglio.

Another renowned product is the olive oil produced in almost all the areas of Tuscia, Sabina, and Pontine’s hills with D.O.P. (Protected Designation of Origin) and I.G.P. (Protected Geographical Indications) denominations.

The most famous typical dishes of the Region besides the aforementioned amatriciana are the carbonara: pasta with egg and bacon, and the artichokes “alla giudia”, an ancient Roman Jewish recipe.