Rome and Surroundings: visiting Ariccia, the village of fraschette and Porchetta!
On the slopes of Monte Cavo, framed by the woods, there is one of the most beautiful towns of the Castelli Romani: Ariccia.
This town is surrounded by green volcanic hills coloured by dense vegetation that preserves the remains of the Roman civilization. A destination for Sunday walks, Ariccia has always attracted many visitors because of its charm and the mix of nature and history.
What to see in Ariccia?
Although not comparable to the immensity of Rome, Ariccia has to offer the visitors numerous architectural works of considerable beauty. The Monumental Bridge certainly is one of the most impressive and most interesting creations.
Dating back to 1853, it was built during the pontificate of Pius IX and, at the time, it appeared as an extremely innovative engineering work: about sixty metres high, it develops on three orders of different overlapping arches and extends for about three hundred metres to the area where Ariccia is located.
It seems undeniable this bridge is inspired to the architecture of the Roman aqueducts, given its so classic shapes and the pillars surmounted by the cornice. By the time, the bridge was put at risk, especially by the Germans in 1944, but the constant reconstructions have allowed this architectural work to survive till nowadays.
Palazzo Chigi is another of the most important and artistically significant buildings in Ariccia: situated in Piazza di Corte, it was designed by the very famous Bernini and despite the time, the interiors still retain their original furnishings.
It dates back to the 17th century, and it is possible to admire Neoclassical frescoes, sculptures and various paintings within the walls.This building is an example of a baroque residence set in a simple urban context.
The work tells about the wealth of a great papal family, the Chigi's, that wanted to leave its mark once again.
A fun fact about the palace is that, probably due to its features, it was chosen to set "Il Gattopardo", the famous movie whose scenes took place there. Palazzo Chigi - belonging to the municipality of Ariccia - is currently used as a museum and it also hosts numerous cultural activities, such as exhibitions or conferences.
Bernini, in addition to this incredible structure, wanted to give Ariccia another work in the same square, so he built the Collegiata Maria SS. in Cielo; it will be enough to admire it a few seconds to immediately see a resemblance to the Pantheon of Rome, a work the sculptor was inspired by.
The Chigi Park, near the palace with the same name, was not completely designed by Bernini but is nevertheless of great importance for the inhabitants and the artistic panorama of the city.
The park, owned by the municipality, is located within the protected area of the Castelli Romani Regional Park: it is possible to admire the ancient oak trees and numerous other typical plants of the territory there.
This park covers about 28 hectares, where you can discover numerous archaeological finds, the fauna and the flora of the area, ancient artifacts and fountains dating back to past centuries. Thanks to its beauty, it has been reproduced in various paintings by famous artists and quoted in literary works by great writers such as D'Annunzio and Goethe.
The most important works, from an artistic point of view, are the "Uccelliera" by Savelli - seventeenth century - and the monument of the pretor of Mesia.
Prevously ,mentioned due to the works inside, Piazza di Corte, for those arriving mainly from the side of Albano Laziale, represents the first artistic work that can be admired upon entering the town.
Created by Bernini, who inserted two of his most important works, this square is also known for its splendid double basin fountain, always built by the famous artist.
Features of Ariccia
Once you have finished the tour of the most important works, you can have a walk through the streets of the city. Going towards Monte Cavo, you will find another of the attractions of the place in the haunted climb: this part of road gives life to a strange optical illusion as it will seem to you to go down a slope that actually is a climb.
Many people get amazed by this phenomenon that still confuses its inhabitants.
At the end of the tour, you will not be able to leave the town without having tasted its famous Porchetta in one of the various "fraschette". They are above all in Via Strada Nuova or in Via dell'Uccelliera and they can be easily reached on foot from anywhere in the town.
The fraschette are nothing more than typical taverns of the place, where you can taste the delicious Porchetta of the city along with good wine and local products. Lazio's food and wine is famous for its goodness and offers a wide selection of cheese both fresh and seasoned, various types of cold cuts and first courses of the Roman cuisine such as Pasta all'arrabbiata or Carbonara.
Ariccia therefore surely represents an important historical and cultural centre immersed in the greenery that however continues not to neglect the good cuisine and the food traditions of its land.
What to visit near Ariccia
If you have time to explore its surroundings after the tour of the town, there are some points of interest that you could certainly like. Near Ariccia, there actually are the splendid volcanic lakes of Albano and Nemi, surrounded by the two beautiful towns where you can admire new architectural evidences of the past.
A place you can't miss is Rocca di Papa, from where you can reach the Palazzolo Caves, through a mysterious path. To those who want to rest and take a leisurely, we suggest the itinerary that goes towards the shores of Lake Albano and allows them to admire the beautiful surrounding landscape.
Last advice is to visit the Convent of Palazzolo, if there still is some time left before returning home, and it is in an interesting position on the edge of the lake.
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